Month: May 2005

Movie Theater Games

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An anthropological view on game design Game Anthropology There is a concept in product design called product anthropology that can be usefully applied to game design. “Plain anthropology is about watching how remote tribes go about their everyday lives and joining in with them eating nasty things. Product anthropology is about watching how ordinary Westerners go about their lives; what sort of things do they do, what do they want to do, how do they […]

How small game team efficiency compares to other media

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Often people who deal with Serious Games ask very different questions than people in the game industry. Game developers, driven by intense competition and the urge to have a king of the genre title will typically ask “How can I make the best game possible, no holds barred” Business instead as “How much does it cost to get a basic job done?” You end up with productivity comparison charts that look like this: Getting the […]

Small Teams Kicking Arse: Defining "HPD"

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The classic question that any game developer with an inkling of project management is bound to ask is “how do we do more with less?” A more pertinent variation is “How do we do just enough to make the game addictive while consuming as few development resources as possible?” Fate I was recently playing the game Fate by good folks over at WildTangent. It is a lovely little Diablo clone with a bit more of […]

E3: There and back again

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Yet another E3. Noisy, intense and blinged out the wazoo. I go to a lot of trade shows each year, but E3 is the only one that consistently manages to outfit midgets (aka little people) with such marvelous costumes. Other than the inevitable meetings, the thing I look for on the show floor is innovation. A couple of thoughts: The graphics plateau will never be reached People still get excited about graphics that are 2% […]

Serious Games: A broader definition

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I was hoping to polish off a simple, easy to use definition of serious games. I ran into the following difficulties immediately: A wide spectrum of groups are interested in serious games Each group has a radically different understanding of the term ‘serious games’ The company I work at is in somewhat of a unique position. We’ve been working on game technology for the past 10 years and have been successfully selling solutions into businesses […]

SpaceCrack: Game Concept Sketches

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Ah, SpaceCrack. This is a simple multi-player game played in the spirit of Spaceward Ho. It is all played over the internet and uses a simple match making service similar to evite. Set a date, the system bugs everyone incessently to log on, and then within 3 minutes of clicking on the link you are playing against your buddies. The goal is to get people playing quickly and to convince their friends to play. In […]

Book: Raph Koster’s "Theory of Fun for Game Design"

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My charming (and tall) friend Lennart turned me onto Raph Koster’s book “Theory of Fun for Game Design” and I must say it was a delightful read. This book fills the ‘game apologist’ niche in my bookshelf. Every game designers, at some point in his career, feels the urge to justify his work to the broader community. We need more such writing that talks about what is good in games. Games as learning activities Koster […]

Game Genre Lifecycle: Part IV

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Profiting from the Genre Lifecycle Let us revisit the genre life cycle and summarize what we have learned. I’ll also discuss basic design strategies for succeeding during each phase of the genre lifecycle. I apologize ahead of time if some of these comments are a bit tongue-in-cheek. Introduction “A new and addictive set of game mechanics are created.”   During the introduction phase, there is lots of risk and not a lot of profit. You […]

Game Genre Lifecycle: Part III

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How to create a new genre We’ve seen how genres die. Now let’s look at how they are born. There are two clear cut methods I’ve come across for founding new genres:   Innovate in terms of more potent reward mechanisms Innovate in terms of more cost-effective risk mechanisms. As we will see, innovating in terms of reward mechanism is merely a path that leads towards creating new risk mechanisms. Ultimately new genres rest upon […]

Game Genre Lifecycle: Part II

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How to kill a genre: Revisited In my previous article, I discussed how a single king-of-the-genre title can take such a large market share of genre addicts that it gains a market monopoly that crushes future competition. This tale is certainly quite palatable to many craggy old genre addicts who reminisce about their favorite genre. However, now that I’ve looked at some more data I’d like to revise my theory of genre death. First, genres […]