All posts tagged: game design

How game forms are shaped by their environment

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  We often consider artistic works from a creative or cultural perspective, but I find it just as enlightening to examine them from an economic or evolutionary lens. How does the economic environment within which a developer finds themselves shape the form that art takes? As a case study of this in practice, I’ve been fascinated by a class of content-focused game that’s recently found a stable niche in the maturing mobile, PC and console […]

Multiplayer Logistics

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How do we get players to play together in a manner that fits their schedules? This is a key logistical challenge a designer faces when building multiplayer games. The promise We are seeing a blossoming of innovative multiplayer systems. In previous eras there were a handful of default models that games might use (matches, play-by-mail). Games today exist on a spectrum from fully concurrent to fully asynchronous and everything in between. A game like Dark […]

Shadow Emotions and Primary Emotions

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Not all emotions are created equal. Consider: It is a distinctly different thing to feel sad while reading about a dying mother than to actually feel sad because your mother is dying. The former is a shadowy reflection that we intuitively understand is not immediately threatening. The later is raw, primary and life changing. I’ve yet to see existing terminology for this phenomena, so at the risk of stepping on existing toes, let’s use the […]

Game Design Logs

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If you still practice or encourage the outdated practice of writing long design documents, you are doing your team and your business a grave disfavor. Long design docs embody and promote an insidious world view: They make the false claim that the most effective way to make a game is to create a fixed engineering specification and then hand that off to developers to implement feature by bullet-pointed feature. Great game development is actively harmed […]

The Declaration of Game Designer Independence

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On a cool, clear Austin weekend, a group of experienced game designers gathered for their yearly retreat.  At night they swapped stories of an industry in turmoil.  As social games and mobile games rewrite the landscape, power struggles between business and design dominate and designers find themselves being sidelined or abused.  And the products they work on suffer horribly as a result.  It is a time when musty old assumptions are questioned.  It is also […]

Happy 2011: Celebrating frontiers in Game Design

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When the frontiers go away, culture turns inward and begins eating itself.  For a brief period of time at the turn of the century, we saw our beloved game industry fall into the trap of thinking ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ It was a dark time where risk adverse publishers and platform owners made bigger bets on more-of-the-same.  Independent developers were dropping like flies.  Bloodier methods of shooting demonized minorities in the head were […]

Story as evolutionary success or failure lessons

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Idle thoughts for a rainy December evening. Viral player stories.  When you create games with deep systems, player run into amazing, emergent scenarios on a regular basis.  From these moments of player experience grow myths and legends.  Players tell them.  Press repeats them. Your game goes viral without requiring any of the whirring, queasy machinations of your local social network dealer. Why does this occur?  It happens without prompting.  It requires no points, no bribes.  It is […]

The Cutest Kindle Game Ever: Panda Poet

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Panda Poet, our next Kindle game, just became available for purchase. Panda Poet is my take on an anagram-style word game boosted by an epic dose of procedural pandas. Just like with Triple Town, I played with several key design philosophies: Designing from the root: Instead of expanding on an existing genre, I went back to first principles and re-evolved the mechanics using rapid prototyping. Evergreen gameplay:  Instead of making a series of fixed puzzles, I […]

Wordcamp 2010: Why we turned Microsoft Office into a Game

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At the start of May, I gave a talk down in San Francisco on how game design can plug a gaping hole in the current practice of application design. Wordcamp 2010: Why we turned Microsoft Office into a Gamehttp://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/doc_player.swf?doc=wordcamp2010-public-100517214725-phpapp02&stripped_title=wordcamp-2010-public View more documents from danctheduck. Here is the pdf with the speaking notes included. This contains a bit more than the actual talk. Wordcamp 2010-Public.pdf take care Danc. PS: You can embed PDF files in slide […]

Game design as government

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(Apologies to Aldous Huxley) For many years, I’ve been thinking about game design as a form of governance. Game mechanics, rules and systems are comparable to laws Players are comparable to citizens The code and moderators that enforce game mechanics are comparable to executive activities. The act of game design is the equivalent of drafting new laws, legislative activities. Issue escalation and customer service are comparable to judicial activities. Each of these topics provides years […]