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As a Muslim video-game developer, I no longer feel the US is open for business

When I was a kid dreaming of being a game developer, I hoped that in the future I’d be joining a large studio and working on a blockbuster title. Things didn’t quite pan out that way. After leaving university with a fellow student, I am now the co-founder of my own company, Vlambeer, renowned for successful game releases such as Nuclear Throne and Ridiculous Fishing. I was born in the Read More...

The Industry, the Union, and the Strike

“We spent 19 months trying to come to an agreement on this contract. That’s the longest negotiation in SAG-AFTRA’s history. We did not take going on strike lightly. We really tried to compromise and come up with an agreement that would be fair. But after 19 months of not being able to put safer working conditions in the contract and being unable to share in the prosperity of wildly successful Read More...

It sure would be a shame if something happened to your dreams of becoming a game dev.

As a frequent public speaker in the games industry, I recently had the honor of presenting at the lovely XOXO Festival in Portland. As a game developer that cares a great deal about the economical and technological democratizing game development, I tend to speak about the practicalities of the creative process and the commercial aspects of game development. XOXO’s venue challenged me to speak about something more personal, so while Read More...

2015

It’s January 1st and even though that’s an entirely arbitrary measurement of time that we came up with a few centuries ago, it means yesterday was a day of entirely arbitrary customs and celebrations. Real life mimics videogames sometimes, I guess. I’m not complaining, because to me, it’s a day of oliebollen, family, friends, reflecting on the year that has passed and celebrating the year to come. It also means I’m reflecting Read More...

Tips for development streaming

Livestreaming. It’s kind of a big thing nowadays, and for many developers it’s increasingly common to stream their work or game as they develop it. At Vlambeer, we’ve been livestreaming the development of Nuclear Throne twice a week, and the results have been rather stellar for a two-person studio/six-person team. Streaming can help with building community, getting feedback and keeping you focused and motivated. But streaming might seem daunting, and Read More...

Six stages of game dev community development

During the last few years, I’ve found myself focused on community development in emergent territories around the world. Territory is loosely defined here: it can be a city, a province, a state or an entire country. Game development communities tend to develop along very similar lines, and at some point I’ve started to mentally organize these community growth thresholds into a model. Note that this model is not scientific in Read More...

Saplings

Most of my metaphors about game design mention trees. I didn’t think much of it at first – after all, why would my choice of words matter that much – but then again, I gave a talk on the importance of language at GDC just the other day. Whenever I teach a guest college to game students, I do an exercise inspired by Interaction Designer Norbert van Geijn. He used Read More...

Rami randomly calls… Sarah Elmaleh

Rami Ismail calls Sarah Elmaleh (Gone Home, Skulls of the Shogun) to talk about voice acting, trees and creative fragility.  

Announcing gamedev.world

  In cooperation with Sarah Elmaleh, and supported by Vlambeer and New York City non-profit Games For Change, we are announcing gamedev.world, launching at the earliest in late April 2015. gamedev.world is a collaborative effort to limit the effect of the language barrier on the growth of games development in countries with large non-English speaking populations. gamedev.world is a curated repository of content foundational to creating the discourse and conversation about game design, Read More...

Everything is not fine and that’s fine

During an interview last year, popular games website Giantbomb asked me what I thought of the state of the industry. I responded that everything is fine – used in that way where every good friend would know not to ask again. We’re not fine. I’ve been told by friends wiser than myself to always add nuance to such a sweeping statement. Individual developers might be fine, certain segments of the Read More...

Introducing presskit() 2.5 & distribute()

For the last few months, my studio Vlambeer has funded work on a project called distribute(). distribute() is a free developer service that allows independent developers to easily handle their press contact list and (p)review build distribution. It’s created to inform and assist developers in creating a good (p)review build strategy, maintaining relationships with the press and verifying that press requests come from verified sources. distribute() has been in an Read More...

Nuclear Throne Daily Runs & Why Assumptions Are Bad Programming

Yesterday, we launched one of the most important Nuclear Throne updates yet. In Update #55, we introduced Daily Runs, a challenge every player can take once a day in a pre-generated level. This way, players can compete with players around the world on the same level, but only get one shot at getting a high score. Obviously, this adds a lot of replayability and challenge to the game for those Read More...

Rami Ismail randomly calls… Danny Baranowsky

Rami Ismail calls indie musician Danny Baranowsky of Super Meat Boy, Desktop Dungeon, Binding of Isaac and Crypt of the Necrodancer fame to talk about the cops, content ID and impostor syndrome.

On Full Disclosure

Full disclosure: since a large part of what many voices that co-opted GamerGate are asking is full disclosure, so I’d thought I’d try doing exactly that just for practice. Although it may come off as snarky, I just want to illustrate how connections and networking in the games industry work and create a realistic context for any discussion about journalism and ethics before delving into my thoughts on Gamergate. As Read More...

I randomly call… Mike Bithell

It probably is no secret that I’m a big fan of Mike Bithell‘s 2012, 2013 and 2014 release Thomas Was Alone. This tweet happened earlier today. @tha_rami @xMattieBrice @LaurakBuzz USELESS TWEET RAMI. (wanna skype and chat about how useless I think you are? We can upload) — Mike Bithell (@mikeBithell) August 4, 2014 So I recorded a 1.5 hour chat with Mike Bithell live on Twitch and this is what Read More...

I got bored and made Nuclear Throne wallpapers

Sometimes, I get a little bit bored when I’m working, and I do something I normally don’t really do. In this case, inspired by about a million similar images, I decided to make some Nuclear Throne wallpapers for the five ‘original main characters’ of Nuclear Throne (I’d make the other characters if I had proper art to use for them, so maybe later). All of these use some art by Read More...

What is Ramadan?

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the Ramadan on Twitter, Facebook and even in my mailbox, so I decided to write down the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. Note that there are cultural differences between the way Ramadan is celebrated, and that some of these views are specific to a half-Egyptian being born in the Netherlands. What is Ramadan? Ramadan is the ‘September’ of Read More...

I want a little moment stand still by the fact that English speaking a enormous advantage give in this world.

That header is what English looks like to a large part of the Western world, including people in Western and Eastern Europe, parts of South America, Middle and Southern Africa. أي وانت اى لتل مومنت ستاند ستيل بي ذي فقط ذات انجلش سبيكنغ اى إنرمس ادفانتج جفي إن ذيس ورلد That’s what English looks like to a large part of the rest of the world, including North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Read More...

Four common questions

I’ve been using ask.fm for the past few months, answering questions from both developers and gamers alike. There are a number of questions that I’ve received more often than any other, and instead of answering those on ask.fm or Twitter, I wanted to sit down and write a proper response. Here are the four most common questions I get about independent game development and my answer to those questions. How Read More...