Jono Shields

Highlights from MIGW16...

Dr. Jennifer Hazel’s talks at Unite and GCAP

It was great to learn more about where mental illness and games meet. Jenn created a cool acronym (because who doesn’t love acronyms) to help game devs deal with how mental illnesses are treated in their games.


  • Language - Making sure the kind of language you use is accurate and respectful. Don’t perpetuate colloqualisms like “psycho” and “crazy”.
  • Accuracy - Portray mental illness in a realistic way, take your time to research the details and use it to create well rounded characters.
  • Purpose - Use mental illness for the right reasons, use it is a plot device, use it to build your characters use it out of necessity.
  • Stereotypes - Are reinforcing stereotypes or are you challenging them?
  • Empathy - Consider the whole person, seperate them from their diagnosis. Try doing an empathy exercise with your character… something like this.
  • Support - Promote and model help-seeking behaviour, if possible provide support channels for those that need it.

This is so important because the World Health Organisation states that..

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.

This was awesomely relevant to what I have been doing lately and has definitely given me a lot to look at.

The Awesome Indie Scene in Melbourne

I found myself in the company of some seriously quality indie game developers, whether it be Lucas Pope (Papers Please) or students from AIE (Academy of Interactive Entertainment), everyone was so approachable.

Everyone was so easy to talk to, they would happily and honestly answer any questions that they had. Whether it was stating what games they drew inspiration from or even admitting flaws in their logic. Even going into detail explaining how they achieved certain gameplay mechanics.

It is this kind of openness, sharing and helping each other that has clearly helped the gamedev community flourish. And obviously prevalent when you look at the awesome quality of the Indie Games on show at PAX. It was so cool to see the Indie section bustling with people and at times a lot more so than the giants like Playstation and Nintendo.

Inspirational Diversity

Firstly, gender neutral bathroom fuck yeah! As someone that gets anxious standing next to other guys at a urinal it was awesome to go into a bathroom that only had stalls. But also is it really so hard to make everyone feel safe in a place literally everyone has to use frequently?

Secondly, just wow. Listening to brilliant speakers like Brett Leavy, Kamina Vincent and Innes McKendrick was inspiring. It was clear to see that there is still a long way to go, but Australia in particular are ahead in leaps and bounds of New Zealand.

Something like 97% of people will interact with games at some point in their life. As game developers we have the opportunity to reach audiences that others wouldn’t, let’s make the most of it.

This is just an example of what we are capable of.

And this was my awesome family that I spent the week with! Love you guys! <3


Ted Update

I have been slowly (and I mean real slow) working on a new game.

Last week I wrote out a pitch for it…

Ted is an artist, well that is what he tells people. He spends most of his time in an office job and spends his night painting small intricate paintings the size of cd cases. The last couple of months have been particularly rough, he hates his job and even though he has been to a bunch of interviews he hasn’t had any luck. He wants to spend more time on his art, but his brother thinks its a stupid idea and a waste of time. If that weren’t bad enough, Ted isn’t great with women and isn’t prepared to try right now after how badly his last relationship ended.

The aim of the game is for the player to help Ted through some difficult parts in his life. So I am thinking that they have a view into Ted’s life through his small apartment. You can see his small paintings in various places around the apartment, but things are pretty cramped an there isn’t much room to move about. Kind of like a Tamagotchi but with Ted, hopefully some more meaningful interactions though.

And this week I took it a but further, below is  a short snippet of an art style I am trialling for the game. Based on material design it is simple to implement and requires less from me as a developer, but at the same time looks quite unique and is visually appealing.

I plan to develop this further, currently I am just using planes and lighting in 3d to achieve the material effect, but I have been looking at moving to vector sprites and baking shadows into the textures to massively improve the performance.

I want to make the apartment look super grungy but not quite sure how that will translate to these visuals., but we will see.

Later days.

Making a game that uses REBT techniques, mindfulness, stoicism

So I want to explore a bunch of techniques used in REBT and what I see is the underlying side of stoicism. But I want to explore them in the context of a video game.

Last week I had a few ideas for gameplay mechanics, I really haven’t developed that much further, but now I have an underpinning story.

Ted is an artist, well that is what he tells people. He spends most of his time in an office job and spends his night painting small intricate paintings the size of cd cases. The last couple of months have been particularly rough though.

The aim of the game is for the player to help Ted through some difficult parts in his life. The player does this through a window into Ted’s life (well actually his apartment) and can help Ted out when he needs it. Think of Ted like a Tamagotchi, but one that rather than having to eat and poop; has to deal with disapproval from loved ones, not being able to find a job and friends acting selfishly.

I have been looking at art styles that would work well with this and would be easy enough for me to achieve something that is okay. But will hopefully find an real artist if the prototype works well.

I spent some of yesterday afternoon experimenting with material design in Unity, not sure how it will feel to have an entire game in it, but there are visual aspects that I like. 

Will keep mucking around with the idea, although I can already see two issues with the above style. Firstly Unity is not going to like all the shadows and I might have to end up writing a custom shader, and secondly I think the style might be too abstract to effectively convey the story I am trying to tell.

Later days.