What do you want to see on Lost Garden?

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Hola,

I just checked my site stats and things finally seem to be settling down to normal after the spike in June of being linked to on Slashdot. Here are some numbers and a question for all those kind souls who appear to be regular readers.

  • Daily unique visitors: 515 per day on the week days. 381 per day on the week ends
  • Average page views per visitor: 2.1
  • Monthly unique visitors: 5600

It’s not a huge group of folks, but everyone who writes in seems intelligent, well spoken and remarkably insightful when it comes to game design. You rock.

I started this blog because I felt there was very little practical game design advice available on the internet. The only way we are ever going to get a large number of quality innovative games is if there is a population of game designers trained in the basics. Yet many industry members are wary about sharing their tips, tricks and proven techniques. The result is a vacuum of knowledge that encourages treating design as risky, mysterious activity.

  • My hope was to create an online resource to that acted as a repository for practical design tools and processes.
  • I’ve stayed away from technology and most ‘current events’.
  • I’ve tried to avoid (though I’m not sure how successfully) the obscure philosophical ranting that often accompanies design blogs. Instead the focus has been clear descriptions of common problems.
  • Finally, I’ve focused on example game designs such as Space Crack and Secret Life of Aliens to ground the discussion.

There are several directions this site can go from here. I’m curious what you are interested in. Here are some ideas that have been floating about:

  • Guest Designers: I could open the site up to game designers who have published a game and ask them to write on tools they find critical to their success.
  • Advanced business topics: I can focus more on the money side of design. It is a fascinating topic.
  • Life of a game: I can dig into the development of an actual game in more detail. This sacrifices the theory a bit, but gives you more details. Think of it as yet another game diary.
  • Current events from a game design perspective: What the hell is Nintendo/Xbox 360/Hot Coffee doing and how does it effect my game design choice?
  • Monkeys: I’ve always been a big fan. Really big.

Thoughts?

Woot,
Danc.

23 Comments

  1. These ideas all sound great. I would be most interested to hear how you think current events will effect game design, although that really couldn\’t hold the site on its own. You could do that every so often, whenever you think there\’s something particularly noteworthy. I\’m not sure what you mean by the \”life of a game\”, not having created any games myself.Or you could just take the easy way out and get a monkey to write in depth on games he\’s developed on the money side of design, and how current events shaped said games.

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  2. Zooba says

    Hey.I\’ve just started a game design idea, and although (mainly because I\’m so young) I\’d never dream of the game being made, I\’ve started writing articles about how the game would work, and its general design. I was wondering if you could post these on your blog, as you already have a secured fanbase, so hopefully they would be read and enjoyed.

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  3. I\’m interested in the last three. For example, what design errors are evident in Ape Attack 360? How is the reward schedule of Banana Busters Revolution? Etc.

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  4. I think i would most enjoy seeing you pursue the \”life of a game\” but no exclusively. It would still be great to have guest designers every once on a while, as well as thoughts on current events (and even more business stuff). I think you\’re balancing everything well at this point, and I\’m not sure of any reason you should focus solely one of these topics.(oh, and i\’m not anti-monkey, i\’m just really pro-games)

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  5. I\’d like to see more discussion of game design patterns and the abstract elements of game design. I find that the discussions about games as systems of tokens, verbs, and rules and the use of risk-reward schedules as the \”fun\” part are the most interesting. It changes one\’s perspective, which is a healthy thing, and my favorite part of Lost Garden.I also like you kicking around game ideas (Aliens, Space Crack), it can be the inspiring kick to get us working on our own projects.

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  6. I have found your posts where you comment on common mistakes that people make and ways of isolating what makes the game fun the most insighful so please keep them coming! also it would be great to have some guest designers as it would give a different perspective and help round things out. Above all keep up the great work!

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  7. Hey Danc, you know I\’d love to hear more or less anything that comes from your twisted little mind… (It would also be great to hear from Phil, Leinad, Lennart, and all the other contacts you\’ve met over time, if they have things to add.)I also wanna hear your take on the latest gaming news, brainstorming, or whatever… And tell us how the wedding plans are going. :)–Ray

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  8. Anonymous says

    What about case studies? I\’ve always wanted to see someone analyze a successful (both critically and financially, although emphasis on the latter) game and help disect why it was successful. Alot of game postmortems really only talk about specific events that happened during development not really the core elements that made it work.Sort of like that TV show At The Movies except for games…

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  9. What about case studies? I\’ve always wanted to see someone analyze a successful (both critically and financially, although emphasis on the latter) game and help disect why it was successful. Alot of game postmortems really only talk about specific events that happened during development not really the core elements that made it work.Sort of like that TV show At The Movies except for games…

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  10. Anonymous says

    What about case studies? I\’ve always wanted to see someone analyze a successful (both critically and financially, although emphasis on the latter) game and help disect why it was successful. Alot of game postmortems really only talk about specific events that happened during development not really the core elements that made it work.Sort of like that TV show At The Movies except for games…

    Like

  11. What about case studies? I\’ve always wanted to see someone analyze a successful (both critically and financially, although emphasis on the latter) game and help disect why it was successful. Alot of game postmortems really only talk about specific events that happened during development not really the core elements that made it work.Sort of like that TV show At The Movies except for games…

    Like

  12. The posts that have focused more on Theory of Fun type topics, have been the biggest draw for me, and are the posts I\’ve read more than once.Like rob f said, discussions on abstract game design patterns and design elements are very intriguing, and your presentation of them in such intuitive and memorable ways leaves me hoping for more.Also, the analysis of a couple game designs has been helpful in further grounding the more theoretical posts. I would love to see you analyze the occasional submission from other game designers.

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  13. Anonymous says

    Actually, your Nintendogs article sold me on the site. An occasional review of an existing game (in that vein) would be fantastic. You are very insightful, and mature analysis of games is always welcome! Keep up the good work, and congrats on your engagement 🙂

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  14. For the record, I just picked up Advance Wars: Dual Strike. I\’m such a sucker for turn-based strategy games and this one looks quite elegant. Perhaps that would be a more traditional design to review. Games like this are rather blatant in their use of nested risk / reward sequences. It sounds like game design theory is a decent topic for further conversation with a bit of mixing it up with a smattering of everything else (including design reviews) Scotty Y: Do you ever read the Post Mortems at Game Developer magazine? Those are classic, though less design oriented.Hmm…looks like the monkey blog will have to wait. 🙂 take careDanc

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  15. I came for the Nintendogs review, but stayed for everything else. Personally I\’d love to see more critical design analyses of games like the Nintendogs review but I\’m also quite interested in your thoughts on the business side of the equation.

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  16. Dave says

    I think you\’ve got a great set of topics going here, as is. Like some of the other commenters mentioned, I ended up here from Kotaku, reading the Nintendogs design deconstruction (or however you\’d term it) and ended up getting hooked on the archives, since getting an in depth view of design/development theory like this is fascinating, and a rare experience. Frankly, I find the theory interesting, but I\’ve found most everything you\’ve ended up posting on here interesting, it\’s always nice to see a new post from you pop up in my RSS reader.As far as where to go from here, I think you\’ve got some possibilities with following the development of games whose design you discussed on here as they progress, the life cycle of the game, as you put it. I\’ve been more or less put off of current events in gaming, as far as all the next gen discussion goes, but there may well be interesting topics to be discussed there and I\’m just not thinking of them, but the reason I dig the site so much is the insight you\’re giving into a designer\’s perspective. Brings a whole new element to playing games, without a doubt.

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  17. I dig the first two options. I love postmortems from designers, and I haven\’t seen many blogs that talk about the money side of design. I feel like I already get the last two options from other sources.

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  18. I like just about everything you write, so write what you want, we\’ll keep reading. Oh…and who doesn\’t love monkeys?brianhttp://myvogonpoetry.com

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  19. Ulthwe says

    I\’ve wanted an insightful look at videogame design for a long time and you just nailed it. Came from Gaming Age Forums for the Nintendogs review and started reading the whole blog. I\’d love to see more of these kind of reviews.Only thing missing (since this is a blog) is a separate index for your full articles, not just the \”Previous Posts\” list. It would be easier to navigate your articles, rather than clicking on each month entries… just imagine the mess in a year worth of blogging!

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  20. Anonymous says

    I don\’t know if anyone else would be interested in this, but I would really like to hear about some ways into the industry. I love games and would love to create (or even just share my ideas about) games. However, it always seems like a bit of a pipe dream to even think about the possibility that my creative ramblings could ever be made into something worthwhile. Any chance? -Elias

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  21. I\’d really like to see more Game Design reviews. I found your review of the design of Advance Wars DS fascinating, looked for more reviews and was disappointed that there seem to be none :)It was particularly timely that I noticed the review on your site, since I\’d just bought Advance Wars. I\’m finding it to be a very tightly designed game . . .

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