Stellaris Overlord: A Design Retrospective

It was a snowy Norrland morning in the middle of October, the advent of sunless winter months to come, when it was announced that Paradox Arctic (where I work) would be collaborating with PDS Green to work on Stellaris. That was a bittersweet moment for me—on one hand, Arctic had just recently endured the cancellation of a project, on the other, it was an opportunity to work on a game I enjoyed. Read more.

The Resource Trinity of Games

Resources in games are usually taken for granted. They exist, of course—every game has them—but they are often overshadowed by other more elaborate and publicized mechanics. My recent foray into the realm of Grand Strategy, a genre that puts so much emphasis on resources that the games have been jokingly called spreadsheet applications, have let me appreciate how important they are in forming the backbone of a well-executed strategy game. Resources in every game can be summarily categorized into three varieties (the titular trinity), read on if this intrigues you as much as it does me. Read more.

Old Buildings Are Gorgeous

Moving to Sweden to join Paradox was motivated primarily by my love for their games and a shove forward for my career as a game designer, but at the same time, I was also entranced by Sweden’s natural beauty and colorful history. Coming from the land-scarce and constantly under-construction metropolis of Singapore, the allure of open skies and storied architecture of old is hard to resist. Over the summer break, I managed to convince my family that a 642 kilometer road trip to southern Sweden to look at old buildings was a good idea. I’m still surprised they fell for it. Read more.

In Pursuit of the Player-Driven Fantasy

After spending a decade building games for the so-called casual audience, changing course to work on a behemoth like Stellaris has at once been inspiring, academic and humbling for me. While most of the design philosophies I’ve acquired in my career so far have been surprisingly transferable to this new genre, a lot of the practical aspects have to be relearned. In the settling dust of my scuffle with the grand strategy giant, one of the most interesting insights that has crystallized from the chaos was a newfound understanding of Paradox’s fascination with the player-driven fantasy. Read more.

Migrating from Wordpress to Hugo

My old website was hosted on a Raspberry Pi 3 hosting service run by Mythic Beasts that was affordable and fast enough to run a Minecraft server in parallel. The annual contract ran out this month and I was considering renewing, but my usage of the server wasn’t nearly enough to warrant spending more money on it, hence I decided to cancel instead. My portfolio site still needed a host so I required an alternative, preferably a free one. Enter Github Pages and Hugo, two things I’ve always wanted to try and now have a reason to. Read more.

Making My Own Arcade Fightstick

I’ve always been interested in fighting games. Since Street Fighter II: World Warrior in my youth, to Guilty Gear XX #Reload, to my current favorite, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. I’ve spent quite some money acquiring fightsticks for the authentic arcade experience (although the nostalgic factor is a little misplaced for me as I mostly played on consoles), but I recently got bitten by the DIY bug and started refurbishing old fightsticks to make them compatible with newer systems like the PS4. Then a voice in my head spoke to me: “Why not make one from scratch?” Another voice in my head said “That way lies madness.” I ignored the latter and got to work. Read more.