I'm one of those folks whose life was truly changed by reddit.

Bio/backstory: A little over a year ago, I quit my PhD at MIT to work full-time on a video game called Prismata that some friends and I had been developing in our spare time since 2010.

This August, we gave our first demo at FanExpo, hoping to get our first big chunk of users. Due to an unfortunate bug in offline mode for google docs, I ended up accidentally deleting the entire list of emails we gathered. We were crushed, as we had spent over $6500 attending FanExpo. Reddit saved the day when, a few weeks later, I posted the story on r/tifu, got BESTOFed, hit the front page, and thousands of redditors swarmed our site due to one of you finding Prismata in my post history. That single event resulted in a completely life-altering change for me and our studio, including a 40-fold increase in our mailing list size, creation of the Prismata subreddit from nothing, and our game's activity growing from a few dozen games per week to tens of thousands.

Since then, we've been featured on the reddit frontpage multiple times, have had Prismata played by famous streamers, and raised over $100k on Kickstarter. Reddit completely reversed our misfortune and I can honestly say that I don't think our community would be even close to what it is today without reddit.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/lunarchstudios/status/542330528608043009

Some friends suggested I do an AMA after Prismata's loading animation was featured on the reddit front page yesterday. (I was the guy who posted the source code in the discussion.)

I'm willing to answer anything relating to Prismata, Lunarch Studios, or whatever else. I'm also a huge StarCraft nerd and I love math, music, puzzles, and programming.


EDIT: BRB going to shower and get my ass to the office.

EDIT2: If you folks want to know what Prismata is, we have a video explaining how the game is played.

EDIT3: If you wish, you can check out our Kickstarter campaign. Alex is sitting in the office sending out the "INSTANT ALPHA ACCESS" keys to supporters, so you should be able to get access almost right away.

EDIT4: SERIOUSLY, this is on the FRONT PAGE?! WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK!!! Guess I'm gonna be here a while...

EDIT5: It's 12AM, I'm STILL doing questions. Keep em coming! I do believe I've answered every single comment in the thread.

Comments: 953 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

drive-by_wiseguy373 karma


Elyot270 karma

Define "greatest". I like C for one thing and that thing is programming contests. Never really felt any desire at all to use it for anything else outside of school.

realhacker130 karma

What's your favorite language?

Elyot539 karma

They all suck.

Honestly, I've never really found a language that I liked all that much, I think just about every language I've used over a long period has some irritating feature that I think really hurts productivity.

Lately I think python is among the better languages I've used recently. I personally chose it for the Prismata server, even though I'd never used it before, because we could get things up and running ridiculously fast using twisted (which is a great framework BTW).

Mokosha7 karma

Have you tried any of the functional programming languages? There are a lot of experienced programmers who say that languages with a Hindley-Milner type system have revitalized their love of programming (and languages).

Elyot22 karma

I like functional languages, but I think most of the good functional features exist in most modern languages.

Did some ML and Haskell back in undergrad. I couldn't see myself being as productive doing actual development because we do so much hacking and fucking around just to test shit out. I think MAYBE purely functional code can be good for enterprise-level shit or maybe medical or military uses where the cost of failure is higher and the development cycles are very long.

eddotman263 karma

Was it tough to decide to quit your PhD? Or did you not enjoy your research much?

Elyot488 karma

The hardest decision ever.

I loved my research, but I hated all the other crap... the teaching, writing, travelling to present, giving talks, making slides, reading papers, refereeing, etc.. Really what I learned doing a PhD was that the only part that I actually enjoyed was solving hard math problems. Everything else felt like needless busywork.

I pretty much knew that I didn't want an academic career, so it was mostly a question of "is quitting now going to damage my future"? I basically decided that the experiences I'd get running my own company would probably be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than the PhD. So I'm happy with the decision.

kbanks413094 karma

Wait, what, what were studying for your PhD? Graduating next semester with a BS in math, and everyone ponders grad school.

Edit - Thanks everyone for the responses, including Mr. Grant. I really appreciate everyone's input. I was pretty set on the idea of entering the workforce before grad school, and hearing everyone's experiences really solidified it. Good luck with your game, Elyot.

Elyot161 karma

Computational geometry and Combinatorial Optimization

PhysicalRedHead65 karma

I'm taking computational algebraic geometry next semester. Should I play your game?

ResurrectedWanderer324 karma

Apparently you should make your own game and quit computational algebraic geometry.

martinspp86 karma

And delete the mailing list .

Elyot63 karma


MikeMcDonald89226 karma

What is the thing you are worst at? Are you better than me at that?

Elyot306 karma

LOL guys this is Mike, he is a poker pro. He's asking this question in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek fashion. I told him I was doing this AMA so he's come here to troll me I guess.

I'm really awful at rock-climbing: I have weak, useless arms and huge legs from playing way too much DDR.

Moses38598 karma


Also, game looks great :-)

Elyot145 karma

There was a time last year when Mike was badly injured from climbing and got some major surgery. I think for those couple of months, I would have been better than him. ;)

soik9014 karma

Sounds like you're built for bicycling, then.

Elyot46 karma

I used to cycle a ton. At one point about 25k/day for commuting. I was in the best shape ever then.

soik9015 karma

Was it a hilly commute or relatively flat?

Elyot30 karma

Somewhat hilly, not too bad tho. About 3 mins faster in the downhill direction, like 31 mins/28mins for the two directions.

AndyC50217 karma

What is your darkest and dirtiest secret? Don't leave out any details please.

Elyot852 karma

I've heard that the correct way to answer these questions on AMAs is something like "Your mom."

So I guess that would be it. Your mom.

AndyC5097 karma

That's mean T_T.

Elyot287 karma

Your mom.

AndyC50140 karma


Elyot210 karma

I found THIS aerial view of your mom's house.

festivemanb197 karma

Every job has its boring side. What are some of the grindy aspects to working in a dream job like video game design?

And what do you guys do for fun when you are sick of playing video games?

Elyot276 karma

Hiring is always a grind... reading resumes, looking at dozens of art portfolios, obsessing over it because hiring is such a high RoI decision.

Also dealing with crap like expenses and taxes and lawyers and all that stuff that our company isn't really big enough to pay somebody else to do.

For fun? Honestly we do a lot of gaming... sometimes less traditional things like board games, ultimate frisbee, DDR.

jesusonapterodactyl41 karma

Favorite board game? Dominion maybe?

Elyot68 karma

Not really a board game but sure. Tabletop game.

Enjoyed Power Grid for a while but we would analyze endgames and find that almost always the result was "KINGMAKER".

AlmightyLatka152 karma

Your story on TIFU was awesome and I loved the follow up. It's amazing reddit has made your game a reality.

What's your favorite sub to browse?

Elyot147 karma

/r/prismata obviously... my subscriptions are mostly science/tech or gaming subreddits. /r/speedrun is a favourite.

idontupvotereposts106 karma

If you look at games like League of Legends or Minecraft, those games were never intended to be played as much as they are. In both games the code base is a huge clusterfuck and now that they are as successful as they are, a ton of bugs turn up. They have teams working on repairing the base of the code since everything was a dirty hack. Did you guys plan your game to avoid those things, or are there some dirty hacks you could share?

Elyot115 karma

Hahah I think our code is a lot better but sure, there are hacks. I can't think of any of ours that haven't been removed yet. Maybe /u/etotheipi1 or /u/willmasaur have some better ideas?

I just did a search of the entire codebase for the word "hack". About 35 results, almost all of them are for testing. Some of the remaining ones are mine and they've all been fixed it seems.

Here's one cool example: we used a really weird flash hack to prevent popup blockers from blocking the "analyze" button because, since the click went through starling, the browser didn't recognize it as a true "click". So we just put an invisible flash native button over top of the starling button.

Jesus_Faction77 karma

I'm baffled that you guys don't advertise the parallels of your game to board games such as Dominion. Your game strikes me more as a board game than a card game. My question: when can I expect to play the single player portion?

Elyot70 karma

Some folks love Dominion but the majority of online gamers don't really play those types of games much. We definitely can sell Prismata in a way that appeals to them, but there's not much exposure to our message, at least in my mind.

Single player... next summer. Demo of a few chapters in the Spring maybe? Not entirely sure as these things are highly subject to delay as we're super nitty perfectionists about everything.

Mr_Milenko36 karma

Just... Don't do Early Access. Please. Release demos, or a beta.. Don't do early access.

Edit: Steam early access.

Elyot67 karma

What's the difference? Or... the answer that I really want to know from you, my customer... Why do you care?

trogdc72 karma

I think he means Early Access as in paying around full price for beta access. I think your current system of releasing access codes periodically while also having them as a kickstarter reward is pretty good.

The main thing is we don't want a situation where you take our money but don't deliver.

Elyot105 karma

The game is intended to be free so I don't think this applies.

Asian_Prider47 karma

Hey! I read your TIFU post and signed up for your mailing list, but I've never had time to download and play it. But I have seen you around the Reddit community and I just wanted to say thats awesome!

My question is, what other games do you play? And which one is your favorite?

Elyot63 karma

StarCraft: Brood War is my all-time favourite I think. Also a lot of Tetris, Quake 3, Smash Bros., Dominion. Got big into hex (the board game, not the TCG) a couple years back, and hardcore puzzle solving (World Puzzle Championship, etc.) after that. Plenty of classic and single-player games too, I play through most of the major Nintendo titles when they come out.

12358132134558914417 karma

I know this could be a personal question, but what was your Brood War handle?

Elyot101 karma

On ICCUP it was DJ_Elyot.

Fun fact: I was the winner of the Reddit StarCraft Tournament:



Do you prefer the original Starcraft or the new one?

I loved the first one, could never really get into SCII. As a protoss, the lack of Dark Templar and Dark Archons really annoyed me. No mind control makes me sad, especially in large team games. Curious to know what others think, as there's nobody playing the original game anymore on Battlenet.

Elyot4 karma

It's really hard to answer this without a ton of nostalgia bias creeping in. I think Brood War had a lot of flaws... Zerg vs Zerg was really a horrible, inexciting matchup in a lot of ways, and Protoss vs Protoss was very high in rock-paper-scissors. SC2 fixed these issues for sure and I think is overall a better competitive game, but brood war still "feels" a lot slicker and more fun to me.

Alphaetus_Prime13 karma

Prismata is an in-browser game, FYI.

Elyot16 karma

The alpha is. The final game will not necessarily be, though we may continue to make a browser version available for a long time. Not sure.

ElOhTeeBee45 karma

Favorite kind of pizza? How about ice cream?

Elyot108 karma

Pizza... meat-lovers with the thinnest crust possible to maximize the meat-to-starch ratio. I don't really like to eat massive shitloads of carbs.

Ice cream? Raspberry cheesecake.

DefectivePerfection24 karma

We should be friends.

Elyot48 karma


thecaseace42 karma

Hi Elyot

What the fuck is going on with Tarsiers? Why is one of the most fundamental combat units in the game a tiny monkey like thing? Why does a tarsier do as much damage as a GAUSS CANNON?

There must be a story behind that, and I would like to know it please.

Great game, btw. Pity I am so bad at it.

Elyot59 karma

They are not tarsiers. They are WEAPONS. Dangerous laser weapons. However, rather than having computerized tracking and aiming devices, these weapons are attached to primate tissue to provide locomotor and targeting functionality. Why use computers when you can use CUSTOM NEURAL TISSUE that homes in perfectly on the enemy, doesn't make judgement errors, and FEELS NO PAIN!

There is a post on blog.prismata.net that explains this. I think it's called "Prismata Base Set"

MikeMcDonald8941 karma

What is the toughest part of video game design that one might think is easy? The easiest part that one might think is tough?

Elyot53 karma

I think every aspect of video game design can be as tough as you want it to be depending on how hard you want to work. You can agonize for days on one tiny little bit of graphics or animation behaviour if you want, but probably it's not worth your time to do so.

I think the stuff we've spent the most time on that people would assume is easy are decisions like "how should these stacks of units look" and "where should these icons go". They take ages. We try tons of things.

Easiest? Stuff like replays, friends lists, chats, etc.. It's all pretty routine and there aren't so many hard decisions to make when designing the systems. Often we just pick whatever is easiest to implement under the assumption that we'll be able to change/improve it later if necessary.

Aldrahill33 karma

So, the awesome Reddit post that got tons of attention for Prismata (twice).

How planned were they? Act of Reddit-God or are you the secret controller of Reddit?

Elyot59 karma

It was 5am, I was pissed off as fuck, didn't feel like sleeping. Just posted it. Wasn't expecting anything at all. Wasn't trying to get attention for Prismata. The original version of the post had no mention of Prismata at all; somebody found that out by creeping my post history. At that point, the cat was already out of the bag.

That said, we definitely have realized that reddit is really important, we do try to get stuff on reddit and encourage our players to share Prismata with online communities that they're a part of. But 90% of that stuff goes nowhere. You can't just be like "yo guys, we need to frontpage today". For example, I've spent hours and hours on blog articles that I posted to subs like /r/gamedev and many of them have fallen completely flat. Some of them did better on gamasutra and so on.

And then an animation that I've been staring at for years gets us frontpage again. Honestly, I have no idea why or how. We don't have some magical network of 1000 proxies upvoting stuff. At the end of the day, you need content that appeals to people.

Aldrahill15 karma

I simply think you've been sacrificing to reddit. Admit it, come ooooon.

In all seriousness, it's pretty amazing what's happened with Prismata and Reddit - have you considered getting official Reddit Ads?

Elyot25 karma

Our PR person said their CTR sucks in their testing.

I honestly think that our PR person might just suck at writing them, not sure. I do want to try them. Being able to target a sub is awesome.

Mahrgell30 karma

Do you believe you can stay competitive at top level, once the game goes live? (so once registration is not limited to alpha key owners) Or will in the long run other hardcore gamers prevail, while you are drowned in work?

Elyot34 karma

I anticipate that there will be people 300+ Elo above me before the end of 2015.

Caoism26 karma

Hey Elyot. Fellow MIT PhD here and I'm close friends with some of your friends so kind of knew of Prismata before you went public. What was the conversation like when you decided with your co-founders to take a leave from MIT? Who was your advisor and how did react to your news? Does Will plan on going back to school if so how would that affect how Prismata is ran and its direction?

Elyot36 karma

It was mostly just Will and I deciding we would do it. I think he had a harder time with his supervisor than I did. I had talked about it before with my supervisor and he basically said "if you're gonna quit, quit sooner rather than later".

I kinda half-expected that we'd spend a year doing fuck-all and then give up and go back to school, but things turned out much better than expected.

I think Will might eventually go back, his big contribution was the game engine which is mostly done and we hardly ever find bugs in it, it's been tested to death. If he left then single player content would get produced more slowly but stuff would still get done.

evanisvinks1421 karma

Once Prismata reaches its final stage in development, what do you plan on doing next at Lunarch?

Elyot72 karma

Once League of Legends reaches its final stage of development, what will Riot Games do next?

Release the next version of League of Legends and keep adding more shit to it, of course.

Same with us. At least, that's the plan for now.

trai_dep20 karma

So, can you enter the human rights field so you can accidentally muff something up, then as a result, bring world peace, happiness and self-filling Martini glasses filled with icy-cold vodka for all?

Or, dragon eggs. Have you considered giving the Ol' College Try at hatching dragon eggs? I mean, there's gotta be nothing that could possibly go wrong there, right?

Elyot17 karma

Uhhhhh I don't think my powers can be used in that manner.

foxh8er18 karma

Does dropping out of a PhD program really make you an MIT dropout? Depending on when OP dropped out he still got an MS from MIT!

Elyot82 karma

There is an amazing story here. I was literally handing in my withdrawal form and the secretary asked if I was getting an MS. I asked what the requirements were. She said "6 courses... and let's see here... you've got... 6". SWEET!

"So all you need for your MS is the thesis!"


Long story short, I wrote the thesis in 4 hours by copy-pasting 2 papers together and writing an introduction. My supervisor approved it and I had an MS.

Easih12 karma

wow that's ridiculous for a thesis; I guess top school student have it as easy as I heard in certain case.

Elyot20 karma

At UW, I spent like 3 months on my Master's thesis, on top of the year I spent working on the papers that made it. Huge difference.

But also note that at MIT, the MS isn't intended to be the final degree. I actually was able to skip the MS cuz I already had a Master's degree when I started there.

arisuMizuki18 karma


Level 4-8: Agony. Seriously... What is wrong with you?

Elyot10 karma



David challenged me to make an exponential gadget in his game. I succeeded.

Inspector_Bloor17 karma

Have you secured any other funding aside from donations/kickstarter? Have any big name companies approached you? What about venture capitalists or even bank loans? Not really sure why I'm interested in that part, but I am.

So music fan... you going to see Arcturus in May in Baltimore? As a musician, and genuinely curious, how are you guys handling the music/soundtrack portion of Prismata?

Elyot33 karma

I've had inquiries from people interesting in investing but nothing too crazy/serious yet. Bank loans are hard to get without revenues and not a great deal anyway, we were able to pool enough of our own funds to get started so I'm happy to have not needed to go that route.

Music, see here: http://blog.prismata.net/2014/09/16/prismatas-soundtrack-is-radically-different-from-most-video-game-soundtracks-heres-why/

And no Arcturus in Baltimore... where did that question come from, is it a thing?

ComedianMikeB15 karma

As a guy who does computer things, what's your opinion of the Sony hack? Do you understand what they did or how they did it, and could you come close to doing any of those things with your current skill set?

Elyot22 karma

I've talked to enough security folks to believe that there are a lot of unpatched exploits out there that people are using all the time. It's mostly the case of knowing the right people because it only takes one person to discover an exploit that dozens can then use. Of course, discovering exploits is an art in and of itself. I'm probably more equipped than most to do that but many hackers are REALLY GOOD.

18andover15 karma

Game looks awesome! I signed up for the beta last week, when am I going to get to play the game? I think I read several months? Why would it take so long?

p.s. I'm a programmer so hopefully you can give me a better answer than 'we need to get our servers ready to handle all of that traffic' or something. Shouldn't take months to prep your servers...?

Elyot23 karma

Our server guy works 1 day/week right now. We're getting him to train other devs but things are unfortunately moving a bit slow. It takes a lot of time to scale from 1 machine to 2 and there's a limit to how much we can grow before we absolutely must take that step.

Right now we're doing OK with one game node and one matchmaking node. The plan is to be able to run more game nodes but there are a couple of features (tournaments, e.g.) that don't work in multinode mode yet. We do have multi-node up and running on our test instance and it mostly works. That said, I don't think alpha will be running multiple game nodes for at least a month; the priority right now is squeezing as much as we can out of a single node because the current alpha testing is showing us a lot of things that need optimizing anyway. We should be able to run 5000+ users on a node but right now it's much less because of some CPU usage stuff that needs optimizing.

There's also a lot of uncertainty; actually in the last couple of weeks, we've been able to make major progress in improving performance on single nodes, much faster than expected.

If you want a key and don't want to pledge to the Kickstarter, we sometimes do giveaways on the subreddit, you could try there.

GeneralQQ13 karma

Have you considered doing one of those motivational speeches about 'victory in failure' or any of those clichés? I think you could have some serious lulz with that.

A more serious question: What is the future for you guys? Any new games being planned? Can you share anything about them?

Elyot24 karma

Not really. I don't think I'm a good example of "victory in failure" because it wasn't really a case of like... failure inspiring me to try hard or anything like that. It was just a case of getting lucky.

No new games planned at the moment as we're really a 1-product company that plans on working on Prismata for as long as we can, but I'd love to work on an exploration puzzle game like The Witness.

Slevo12 karma

You guys need a marketer?

Elyot19 karma

Not sure. We'll evaluate our priorities after Kickstarter. We get lots of resumes sent in but we do read them all.

listentobillyzane19 karma

Do you guys need an idea man? I'm a pretty good idea man.

How about we make a machine that folds your clothes for you, and can organize it by shirts, pants, and underwear. We can even match socks together!

See, thats a million dollar idea right there.

When do I start?

this post and any ideas in aforementioned post are copyrighted

iamsanset5 karma

I laughed too hard at this... especially your copyright disclaimer (mostly because it seems legit)

Elyot4 karma

That disclaimer means nothing as your post is copyrighted as soon as you type it out. :P

Joe5678011 karma

hey bro hows your day been?

Elyot14 karma

TOO LITTLE SLEEP. Kickstarter in general has been exhausting.

137hamso10 karma

Do you still do math? What, particularly?

Also, what would you advise someone who wants to go for a PhD sometime in his career?

Elyot17 karma

We use math all the time when working on Prismata. And not just the easy stuff. I remember having a very involved discussion relating to markov chains and combinatorial optimization with Will recently... we were talking about raids and minion-spawning algorithms and whether a certain type of enemy that "spawns less stuff when it gets damaged, but chooses stuff to spawn via a random greedy knapsack algorithm" could ever have the property that the players DIDN'T want to damage it. We concluded that the answer was naively yes, but not if certain restrictions were placed on the stuff that got spawned.

DO IT but only if you actually like your subject. Don't do it for money or fame. And if you REALLY want an academic career then think carefully about the costs, the difficulty of getting jobs, having stable relationships, etc.

skMed7 karma

whether a certain type of enemy that "spawns less stuff when it gets damaged, but chooses stuff to spawn via a random greedy knapsack algorithm" could ever have the property that the players DIDN'T want to damage it.

Could you clarify this bit? Are you saying that as the enemy is more heavily damaged, it greedily chooses to spawn stronger minions within some maximum bounds(knapsack)? Why did you reach your conclusion of 'yes' that players would avoid this? Genuinely interested - thanks!

Elyot7 karma

We wanted enemies that spawned less stuff when damage, so that the player would have a choice between attacking the spawners (damaging economy) vs attacking the enemy units themselves.

We never wanted a situation where a player with leftover damage would rather use it on NOTHING than on the spawner. Cuz that would be inelegant and lead to all sorts of weird and possibly degenerate player behaviour. So we wanted to establish a spawning algorithm that had the property that for each possible enemy spawn, its probability of spawning decreased as the spawner was damaged more.

LondonBridgeTroll9 karma

Can you compare and contrast Prismata & Hearthstone? I enjoy hearthstone a lot -- this one looks similar but wanted to hear your take on it (assuming of course you know what Hearthstone is)

Elyot14 karma

Of course! One of our devs (Alex) was a top 5 legend at one point I believe. Prismata is really very little like HS. There are no decks, no cards to collect, no hands. It's more like a turn-based StarCraft with some elements of tabletop games like Dominion. But it feels very fast and fun like Hearthstone, I would say the pacing is about the same.

One analogy I use to explain Prismata to HS players is the following: Suppose on turn 1, you drew your entire deck (and your opponent has THE SAME deck, and it's random every game). Then suppose that instead of mana crystals, you have 6 or 7 "workers" that produce 1 mana crystal at the start of your turn (and unspent crystals can be saved). You can "buy" extra workers for 3 crystals.

That's basically Prismata. Except the combat is different and there is a small tech tree.

DoubleFives9 karma


  1. What are your current thoughts on the balance of Prismata?
  2. What is your favorite prismata unit?
  3. What is a "failed" mechanic that we will never have the pleasure of complaining about?

Elyot11 karma

1) Prismata doesn't even have balance in the traditional sense. There are some units that get bought often when they show up (e.g. Vivid Drone) but that doesn't mean they're OP necessarily, it just means they are different. We balance for variety and fun so that players get lots of different experiences as they play with different sets, and players enjoy lots of choices as the game progresses. Right now I think we are doing pretty well. There are maybe 1 or 2 units that I can think of for which a slight rebalancing would improve the game, but nothing too crazy. Sometimes we deliberately rebalance to make stuff "OP" in a numbers sense (e.g. Flame Animus) but accept that it makes the game more interesting rather than less interesting.

2) An unreleased unit called "Ebb Turbine". It sacs drones to produce mountains of cash. It's awesome.

3) Haste (or "Charge" from Hearthstone)... basically units that attack as soon as you buy them. It made counting your opponent's attack potential a huge pain in the ass every turn, and led to all kinds of "unexecuted threat" situations.

YouHaveShitTaste9 karma

At what point did you realize Reddit was this easy to milk/game for free advertising?

Elyot25 karma

I always thought that like... big companies like pepsi or honda or whatever would go out and spend like 100k shooting an ad with a big symphony or a rube goldberg machine or whatever to try and make the frontpage. I thought it was frigging hard.

If it was easy, I think everyone would be doing it.

I think I just got lucky once and now reddit really is into "the story" of it all. I promise that there's no gaming or cheating or anything like that. In fact when it first started, the AMA was going so poorly that I almost called it off. We are really fortunate but I also consider it a big responsibility; I will sit here all fucking day and answer every damn question because I do believe that, though reddit has helped us a lot, we owe it to give back to reddit however we can.

Naitso9 karma

  1. What is your favorite irrational number? How many digits can you resite of it without cheating?
  2. What is the most interesting math fact you know?

Elyot15 karma

1) Pi I can recite... 3.1415926535897932384626... e is 2.718281828... that's about it. Don't have a favourite.

2) Where do I even begin...? Maybe the Robertson-Seymour theorem.

pyrogamerman7 karma

Toilet paper over or under?

Elyot20 karma

I honestly don't even put it on the roller most of the time. GF used to get annoyed but has gotten over it.

Squibbles017 karma

What is the crunch and general working hours like over there? It seems like most studios are pretty bad when it comes to this.

Elyot15 karma

I work like 250+ hours a month but it's because it's what I like to do. Half the time I'm goofing off or playing Prismata/chatting with players anyway. I work on a huge variety of stuff... coding/production/music/blogging, even marketing a bit so I can work for lots of hours without getting bored.

All our paid employees work 7.5 or 8 hour days 5 days/week and we don't really do overtime. We did do a 30-hour hackathon for fun and they did stay late, but they did it for fun, and we let them some paid time off.

touchTheGoose6 karma

Making videogames has always been my dream job, as well as plenty of other people's I'm sure. Do you think that it is a realistic industry to try to land a job in, or do you think that people like me would do better designing software for companies, or other similar jobs?

Elyot19 karma

I've interviewed some folks who worked for AAA game companies and was honestly not that impressed with their technical skills relative to the folks who had worked for google/microsoft/etc.. I actually think that too few exceptionally capable people go into gaming for whatever reason.

On the other hand, I also feel like there are a lot of "hopefuls" trying to get into gaming who could never in a million years land a job at a google/microsoft/etc..

In any case, if you're a good developer, you can probably succeed in gaming.

Easih9 karma

Video game is not the most stable industry which is why alot of programmer do not go there.Working for google,microsoft etc cant be compared to working at most video game company.The amount of specialization in a job at most video game firm is probably a big reason you are not impressed with their tech skill.

Elyot11 karma

Fair enough, but a lot of it, especially mobile/app/game development, is NOT that skill intensive. There are definitely high skill game dev jobs... stuff relating to graphics and AI and systems and so on. But I think the vast majority of game dev jobs are not like that.

DJSonikBuster6 karma

I've been reading through the questions and comments here, and It looks like you have been able to put a really incredible game together. I am currently apprenticed to a VGComposer, but it's up to me to find work. I am actually really excited to see you use a variety of composers on this game. That is a really unique approach to writing a soundtrack. Also, what you said is very true...and if I'm honest my specializations fall between RPG style instrumental pieces, and Trance/EDM. What kind of advice would you give an amateur composer like me for getting involved with a start-up project/Indie Project?

Elyot14 karma

GOOD DEMOS. That's the most important thing. I want to hear something that sounds AS GOOD as trance/EDM that's signed to actual labels. So much of the demos I get sent are made entirely with presets, not compressed or mastered, etc..

Also, just send shitloads of emails. Some folks got a job with me just because their demo hit my inbox at the right time.

SOSyourself5 karma

What advice do you have for people who are questioning their current educational pursuits and considering dropping out in order to chase their dreams?

Elyot9 karma

Talk to everyone you can. And actually sit down and talk to them, don't ask them 1-sentence questions on AMA threads! I'd love to talk more but the questions keep pouring in...

Apollo5065 karma

Can you elaborate on how your free-to-play model will work?

Falkie4 karma

Elyot Grant from UW? If so, I remember meeting you in your second year at UWDJ (2007/2008). Do you still DJ and what do you think of the progression of trance music in recent years?

Also, awesome with Prismata! I had no idea it was you! The first exposure I had was watching the streams of Kripp, trump, etc. during that one day of streaming. Will be sure to check out the game now. GL!

Elyot3 karma

YES. There is still good trance out there. Lots of shit but in all honesty there was always lots of shit. Lately I'm loving more progressive stuff like this.

aclay814 karma

I saw in one of your answers that Brood War is one of your favourite games. Can you tell me where you think Starcraft 2 went wrong--why was Brood War better?

Elyot20 karma

SC2 is great. I just never got into it competitively because I was way too busy with school and other things.

I think marketing-wise, they made a huge blunder by not making it more casual. They should have had chat rooms, 3v3 BGH, 3v3 Zero Clutter, etc.. I honestly don't know why they didn't just replicate the brood war online experience more closely. The fact that they had no chat rooms for years is incredibly telling; I feel like their allocation of developer resources was really messed up.

humoroushaxor4 karma

Do you think there is space for responsible gaming? I'm a life long gamer and feel there are many benefits one can achieve from gaming, specifically problem solving and strategy games such as yours. At the same time there is negative connotation around games being a distraction and waste of time.

The reason I ask is it is kind of my goal to develop a culture and possibly brand around this idea. If you are familiar with the code of conduct and ethics in Martial Arts, think that superimposed on gaming. Teach kids not to flame, respect your opponent, and work on improving oneself in many aspects. At times I'm sure everyone finds it hard to balance the temptation to game versus "productive and responsibly things" but I would like to address this issue rather than ignore it.

Sorry for the wall of text.

Elyot5 karma

I think the choice of game matters a lot.

I see a huge gap between games that reward skill and games that reward time. I strongly prefer, as a player, the former. I pretty much haven't played any RPGs since the SNES era. I've read some psychology papers in which they show that certain types of learning/development goals are better achieved through gameplay that rewards skill rather than time, and this intuition agrees with what I see in practice.

Rook7303 karma

Do you need another programmer?

Elyot11 karma

I need a person who is REALLY good at amazon web services and python. Don't really need any more "game developers". Maybe could use a QA person. We'll figure out hiring once we figure out how nice the kickstarter fairy is going to be.

ThisIsSoWrong3 karma

How do you envision the spectator experience of Prismata? How do you think a novice audience will experience watching high-level tournament play?

Elyot4 karma

It's all about the commentators. Plus, getting lots of really good animations and SOUND. I think SOUND is actually the biggest thing we're missing right now, even more than graphics.

Thestrategyboss3 karma

How was M. I. T? How did you get in? I'm planning on going there but it would be amazing to have some details. P.S Congrats on the entire project! Very well done!

Elyot8 karma

I had a really strong C.V. entering MIT, including many good publications and pretty much the top prize in North America for undergrad compsci reserach. I also had really solid grades.

I did spend a fair amount of time on the letter, I think it's important to let people know that you're passionate about what you do, and the best way to do this is through evidence, quantifiable if possible.

Swazniack3 karma

Where do you see your studio in the future?

  • What do see your game being in 2 years?

  • Why did you devil op the game how you did?

    • How many people are working on your game?
    • What's your favorite color?

Elyot6 karma

2 years? Somewhere between where Scrolls is now and where Hearthstone is now.

Huh? Devil op? I'm not the devil... :P

4 devs, 1 intern, 1 artist, 5 part-time folks who are still in school, 2 marketing interns, and a ton of contractors doing art/music/etc.

ronconcoca3 karma

In a scale from Prismata to Prismata, how Prismata do you think a Prismata could Prismata at /r/Prismata without being an obnoxious Prismata?

Elyot3 karma


Crescentzero2 karma

What did you have for breakfast?

I'm hungry and I don't know what to eat, so I'll have what you're having!

Elyot2 karma

A pear and some yogurt.

Crash_overlord2 karma

What has been the best moment for you while you were developing Prismata (Actually developing, not getting an increase in playerbase :P)?

Also, do you think you'll be a finalist in the scorchilla cup?

Elyot3 karma

Best moment? I made a puzzle that I was REALLY happy with. It had a very tight solution and required a very deep insight but no guesswork once you observed that insight. I do quite a bit of puzzle designing in my spare time so it felt really cool to be able to use that for work.

Also, I was really happy with the trailer theme, which is one of the music pieces that I wrote/produced myself. I had never done a classical/orchestral/epic piece like that, and we had like 3 days to finish the trailer cuz we were submitting it to something, and I bought garritan orchestra and grinded out the piece over one weekend. Was really happy with the result. I still hum the tune all the time. >_<

EDIT: Scorchilla Cup, I think so. I dick around a lot on ladder but I think I'm probably in the top 5 players still, though people are catching up FAST!

go_leemo2 karma

Hi Elyot, I hope you don't take this offensively, but this is my first time hearing about you and your game. congratulations! For my question though, I am a math major, soon to graduate and I remember taking an intro to python class and was easy, but I feel as though I didn't get the necessary information on how to develop anything useful. Is there any books or websites that will give me more specialized knowledge on developing software/games/applications? Should I keep taking classes? Don't know the field well so don't know if this question makes sense, thanks!

ITdoug3 karma

I'm not Elyot, but look into /r/CS50 where you can take a Harvard-developed programming course for free, at your own pace over 12 months, and get a certificate for it. It covers C++ at first, but gets into other languages, all of which may help you develop something useful, or at least guide you to where you want to go.

Elyot12 karma

I disagree with this. I think you'd be better off finding a PROJECT to work on rather than taking more classes. Of course both can be useful, but IMO you learn the most when you actually have something you're trying to build that motivates your study.

It's also handy to have a friend who can help you in those situations where 30 seconds of their time can save 1 hour of your time.

ITdoug2 karma

CS50 consists of Problem Sets which you submit and get graded on. Each problem set consists of very different "projects" you work on. Pset1 was about creating a program to calculate minimum change during a purchase, and also another program where you create the "final pyramid from Mario 1" based on numeric input from the user. You type 10 and it makes a 10-high pyramid.

Pset 2 is completely different projects, about cipher-text (think of the Da Vinci code thing).

CS50 is very robust in terms of what you learn, and is full of "HOLY SHIT I GOT IT RIGHT!" moments that reallllyyy motivate you to tackle the next pset.

Have you tried it yourself?

Elyot3 karma

Haven't tried it. I was the type of guy who pretty much taught myself programming by making games.

pyrogamerman2 karma

Do you have any inspirational words to constant screw ups everywhere?

Elyot6 karma

The worse the screwup, the more valuable the learning experience.

AndyC502 karma

On a more serious note any advice for someone who recently entered college for mathematics?

Elyot6 karma

I hope you like math! Try hard, go to class, make friends with people who like math. Grind assignments together, challenge each other, try to really understand the material. Don't procrastinate.

danheskett2 karma

Why don't you have any women on your team?

Elyot4 karma

Founders were a group of guy friends, but we have 3 females actually (one is technically a contractor).

star-storm2 karma

If you weren't working on Prismata or continuing your Ph.D., what would you like/be able to do otherwise? Glad you're doing well!

Elyot5 karma

No idea. Find a cool startup where I could add a lot of value.

agentlemidget2 karma

What is your favorite DDR song or track, what is the degree of difficulty (9 footer on heavy?) and how long have you been dancing?

Elyot3 karma

I always have liked Xepher (on Challenge, of course)

I usually do 10s and 11s. Have passed a few 12s. Been playing for about 15 years.

crimson_blindfold1 karma

Has fame changed your perspective into gaming development and perception of the player baseplayers in general? And do you plan on continuing your PhD pursuit in the future?

Elyot1 karma

Am I famous? So far I don't think so. Our players are really great. We haven't got famous enough to have a critical mass of trolls/assholes yet.

Dunno if I will finish the PhD, but I'm not planning on quitting my current gig anytime soon.

A_Soporific1 karma

Do you anticipate using Reddit and Kickstarter again for the next game?

I've seen a couple of instances of that not really working out too well. In order to get consistent results out of social media you need to develop a dedicated fan base, and I've seen projects fail because a group got a unique bump or was able to piggy back off an existing fandom the first time and assumed they would get the same the second.

More generally, I've been really excited about starting up businesses for some time. How was Lunarch Studios put together? What kind of people or skills are absolutely necessary to start something like that?

Elyot1 karma

If we have another game, we'll already have a base assuming Prismata does well, so we won't need to build one up from scratch. I guess that would necessitate that the next game appeals to Prismata players, but I don't really see us working on the type of game that wouldn't.

I could speak for hours on the 2nd topic, go hang out in /r/startup for a while and you'll hear lots of opinions.

Naitso0 karma

Would you rather figth one horse sized duck, a hundred duck sized horses, or ten tarsiers?

Elyot4 karma

A tarsier is REALLY small. Like, incredibly tiny. Smaller than a duck. It would be pretty easy to win, I think.

Now, if the Tarsiers had flesh-singeing laser-eyes, I might go with the horses. Shrunken down that much, they wouldn't be nearly as well optimized for speed, and I feel like I could kite the shit out of them.

nojihad-1 karma

One horse-sized duck is fighting one hundred duck-size horses. Who would win?

Elyot1 karma

Is this still a thing... :P