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September 21, 2018
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John Harris's Blog   Expert Blogs


I write the roguelike column @Play, available here.  The first ebook compilation of @Play columns, at over 700 pages and with nearly 70 essays, is avaiable on and Amazon!

I occasionally contribute to the group video gaming blog Curmudgeon Gamer: I'm a Metafilter member, username JHarris. I really enjoy the roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu, and am a general fan of H.P.Lovecraft. I also like: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Paranoia (the RPG), Paranoia (the state of mind), Nethack, Rogue, Dungeon Crawl, roguelikes in general really, They Might Be Giants, all kinds of video and computer games, especially the works of Atari Games (the arcade company), Greg Johnson, NES-era Rare, the Linux operating system, and many other things really.


Expert Blogs

Posted by John Harris on Mon, 30 Apr 2018 06:17:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
Another excerpt from the VCS book, this one covers the early RPG Dragonstomper, which has some amazing features for 1982! Anyone interested in the early history of CRPGs needs to take a look at it.

Posted by John Harris on Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:02:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
This is an excerpt from '21 Unexpected Games to Love For The Atari VCS', available in the current game eBook Storybundle. E.T. gets a lot of crap, but it is possible to enjoy, and it's arguably better than Warshaw's previous hit Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Posted by John Harris on Wed, 18 Apr 2018 04:18:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
An excerpt from '21 Unexpected Games to Love For The Atari VCS,' Atari Video Cube doesn't actually work like a real Rubik's Cube. It's a lot more accessible! It's a laid-back kind of puzzle game that Atari originally sold by mail order.

Posted by John Harris on Fri, 13 Apr 2018 04:23:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
Excerpt from 21 Unexpected Games to Love for the Atari VCS. Riddle of the Sphinx shows developers for the Atari reaching for complexity of design and theme, a far cry from the Pong and Tank clones the system was made for.

Posted by John Harris on Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:40:00 EDT in Design, Programming
Details on Pac-Man's little-known ghost passthrough bug and why it happens, an excerpt from the book Bug Voyage in the current Rogue Souls Storybundle.

Posted by John Harris on Mon, 21 Mar 2016 02:18:00 EDT in Audio, Design, Programming, Production, Art, Console/PC, Indie
I converse with the makers of Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space and their new Sea of Stars: Infinite Space III, about the games, about design, about their history, randomness, and their friend Phosphorus.

John Harris's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 04/23/2018 - 10:02]

Thanks for the info David ...

Thanks for the info David I 'll update it for future revisions of the book.

Comment In: [Blog - 03/28/2017 - 09:40]

Like the others have said, ...

Like the others have said, not all hardware that displays sprites supports automatic detection. r n r nWhat graphics hardware does support it, does so because it 's actually simple to provide at that level. When it comes time to draw a pixel, somewhere in the chip is a circuit ...

Comment In: [News - 04/21/2016 - 06:40]

I am one of the ...

I am one of the least well-heeled game enthusiasts you could ever meet, and I don 't feel screwed if a game goes on sale after I buy it. This is particularly because I almost never buy a game that isn 't on sale. A no sale promise says to ...

Comment In: [News - 02/19/2016 - 06:42]

A permadeath strategy game like ...

A permadeath strategy game like classic Fire Emblem with scripted characters makes players feel very bad when someone dies, to the extent that most Fire Emblem players, I believe, restart a battle when someone perishes. If the characters are more generic then there isn 't as much of a sting, ...

Comment In: [Blog - 11/19/2013 - 02:16]

The term roguelike originated in ...

The term roguelike originated in campus computer labs in the 80s to describe a variety of games that were very similar in play style to Rogue. It then evolved to cover/got appropriated to mean games that took Rogue 's lessons of procedurally-generated gameplay to heart. But the term has become ...

Comment In: [Blog - 04/17/2015 - 02:06]

I thought this was very ...

I thought this was very interesting Thanks for writing it out, there 's so much about SWG that needs to be recorded and remembered, while it still can be.