All posts tagged: skill chains

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 […]

Project Horseshoe: Multiplayer Game Atoms

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The 2008 Project Horseshoe reports are up! We wrote about how to diagram multiplayer games using skill atoms. Truly a brilliant weekend. The discussion was quite wide ranging and as a result the write up became a bit…long. However, the results should spark a few brain cells. Let me know what you think! 🙂 Best wishes, Danc. PS: There are some great reports up this year so be sure to browse around a bit.

Tidbits from the garden

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A few odds and ends have collected in my inbox lately. Video of the Princess Saving Application is up! All the videos from the night are posted up on My talk starts 10 minutes into the first video and lasts approximately 30 minutes. There’s also a bit of Q &A after all the talks finish up. You can get the original slides here.<a href=”” target=”_new” title=”Microsoft Office Labs & Engineering Excellence IxDA Event […]

The Princess Rescuing Application: Slides

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Last Thursday, I gave a talk on game design to the local Seattle chapter of the IxDA, an interaction design group. About 100 folks were in attendance and the catered finger food was downright delicious. Other speakers included George Amaya, who spoke about recent research on social/party games, and Mark Long, CEO of Zombie. Mark gave a lovely presentation on how narrative and storytelling immerse players. His new game looks gorgeous. My talk was on […]

Theme and game design

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Recently I was chatting with some friends about the role of ‘theme’ in game design. Theme, in this discussion, was the setting of the game, be it fantasy, sci-fi, military, etc. At first blush, the typical game designer’s use of theme appears a bit primitive. Limited range compared to the wide variety of themes in movies or books. Games recycle a half dozen major themes or in some cases invent their own surrealist themes that […]

What actitivies can be turned into games?

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Techniques for designing consumer scales Recently, my amazing wife picked up a copy of Wii Fit. No, this is not a review. Here is something you may not know about my wife. For the past year, she’s been dealing with a rather serious, debilitating illness. One side effect is considerable and undesirable weight loss. On the positive side, she has enjoyed shopping for a new wardrobe to match her more petite frame. On the less […]

Project Horseshoe 2007 slides: Smashing the game design atom

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Here are my slides (with talking notes) from Project Horseshoe. I blazed through this in about 30 minutes since dinner was waiting and there is nothing more ornery than a crew of wild haired game designers in complete glucose crash. See if you can spot the source of the infamous ‘8mm’ meme that stalked the conference. Since it was Halloween yesterday, let’s start with a tale of horror. Not so long ago there was an […]

The Chemistry of Game Design

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It has been a bit quiet in the garden this summer as I’ve been busy working on a set of longer essays. The first, The Chemistry of Game Design, is up on Gamasutra this morning. You can read it here. A blurb from the article: ‘“…it was clear to the alchemists that “something” was generally being conserved in chemical processes, even in the most dramatic changes of physical state and appearance; that is, that substances […]

What are game mechanics?

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The phrase “game mechanics” sends a pleasant shiver down my spine. At the heart of every game are these mysterious whirring clicking mechanisms that deliver to the player pleasure and thrills. We use them, we build them, but I’ve never seen a good unified definition of game mechanics that gives us a practical base upon which to build great games. Here is one. It is clobbered together from a variety of influences though many of […]