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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, 10 May 2021 10:30:00 EDT in Console/PC
The basics of how to enjoy playing a Mystery Dungeon game. From We Love Mystery Dungeon, for sale in a bundle up for a few more days at

Posted by John Harris on Wed, 13 Nov 2019 10:23:00 EST in Design, Indie
This is an excerpt chapter from the book Level Up: A JRPG Creator's Handbook, available in the current Storybundle, about using non-transitive character and monster powers to design interesting encounters.

Posted by John Harris on Mon, 19 Nov 2018 12:24:00 EST in Design, Console/PC, Indie
An interview with ADOM creator Dr. Thomas Biskup, about the game's recent arrival on Steam and various other things, both about it and in general.

Posted by John Harris on Thu, 15 Nov 2018 11:13:00 EST in Design, Art, Console/PC, Indie
Interview with Josh Ge, Creator of the sci-fi, robot-focused roguelike Cogmind, about it and many things about its design and creation.

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.

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 - 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.

Comment In: [Blog - 03/11/2015 - 12:55]

I recognize that saving is ...

I recognize that saving is appropriate for some kinds of games, especially those that present themselves as an exploration of possibilities. But for games that, for their guiding play metaphor, are about the personal history of a character, I think it 's overused. Not worthless , but, misguidedly popular. r ...