Richard Terrell (@KirbyKid) has a passion for video games. Beyond dominating at Super Smash Brothers, he’s an indie game developer and game design critic. He’s also added “Blockspring spreadsheet power user” to the list of gaming related skills. So, you can imagine how curious we were to see how that came to pass!

His company, Design Oriented, grew out of a desire to match awesome games commentary to individual gamer’s tastes. In the vast ocean of blog posts, video analysis, and essays, most of the content is unstructured; Richard tells us that even savvy gamers tend to stick to a single forum or review site. Design Oriented helps gamers discover critics who match their interests based on an hierarchy of characteristics, allowing for a clean visual way to search at an unprecedented level of granularity. Ultimately, Richard hopes that this will provide gamers with a customized list of critical content to discover that they wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Image00 Visual search using Design Oriented

Design Oriented started out by using Google Sheets to categorize game articles by hand, but has evolved into a complex analysis system. Richard tells us that Blockspring has enabled them to become increasingly sophisticated, helping them prototype quickly and find solutions that would have otherwise been out of reach of non-programmers. Starting with collecting simple statistics & crawling links for additional articles references, the team has evolved to using Alchemy to extract tags & keywords and training Machine Learning algorithms with MonkeyLearn to enhance their analysis. While the journey hasn’t always been easy, “Blockspring dug us out of a hole, every time” he says.

Blockspring 1
Blockspring 2 Examples of Blockspring & Alchemy in action

We got to preview Design Oriented’s visualization tools, and suffice to say we’re eagerly awaiting the Q1 2016 launch to discover more video game awesomeness (there may be some excited gamers at Blockspring, too :P). You can learn more about their progress by following Richard (@KirbyKid) and Design Oriented!

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