All posts tagged: Worth Reading

Value chains – A method for creating and balancing faucet-and-drain game economies

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INTRODUCTION The problem with picking up sticks Recently I was designing the harvesting and crafting system for our Animal Crossing-like game Cozy Grove when I ran into a problem: picking up a stick is not that fun.  The core activities in a life sim are generally not full of mastery and depth. You chop trees. You dig holes. You pick up sticks. In isolation, each of these is dull. Our playtesters would harvest a leaf […]

Prosocial economics for game design 

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For Project Horseshoe 2019, an annual game designer think tank, our workgroup investigated how economics could help promote prosocial values. You can read the other reports here: Attendees: Randy Farmer, Joshua Bayer, Tryggvi Hjaltason, Erin Hoffman-John, Daniel Cook, Ray Holmes “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” — Kurt Vonnegut, […]

Social Design Practices for Human-Scale Online Games

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For this year’s Project Horseshoe, an annual game designer think tank, our workgroup investigated small-scale MMOs. You can read the other reports here: Our group consisted of: Alexander Youngblood, Game Designer at ArenaNet Amy Jo Kim, Chief Executive Officer at Shufflebrain Crystin Cox, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft Daniel Cook, Chief Creative Officer at Spry Fox Erin Hoffman-John, Lead Prototyper at Google Isaiah Cartwright, Game Director at ArenaNet Kyle Brink, Director of Production at […]

Cozy Games

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For this year’s Project Horseshoe, an annual game designer think tank, our workgroup dug deep into how to design cozy games. What a productive, happy group of people! You can read the other reports here: Our group consisted of: Tanya X Short Anthony Ordon Dan Hurd Chelsea Howe Jake Forbes Squirrel Eiserloh Joshua Diaz Daniel Cook Ron Meiners: Moderator Overview Coziness is a common aesthetic in popular games such as Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, yet […]

Game design patterns for building friendships

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In November of 2016, a small group of veteran game designers got together in a remote portion of Texas for a think tank called Project Horseshoe. Our workgroup dug deep into how design can help build meaningful relationships within games. You can read the other reports here: Our group consisted of: Daniel Cook, Spry Fox Yuri Bialoskursky, Electronic Arts Bill Fulton, Microsoft Michael Fitch, Joel Gonzales, Introduction The issue In many online multiplayer […]

Building Tight Game Systems of Cause and Effect

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To play a game well, a player must master a mental model of cause and effect.  You learn that pressing a specific button moves you forward.  You figure out that a sequence of controller moves lets you dodge a fired rocket.  You observe a slight pause before an enemy attack and theorize that you could fire off a headshot at that exact moment.  At each stage of learning, you create a hypothesis, test it via […]

Loops and Arcs

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Here are two tools I’ve been using lately to better understand the functionality of my game designs.  The first is the loop, a structure that should be very familiar to those who have looked into skill atoms.  The second is the arc. Loops The ‘game’ aspect of this beast we call a computer game always involves ‘loops’. The player starts with a mental model that prompts them to… Apply an action to… The game system […]

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 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 […]

Rockets, Cars and Gardens: Visualizing waterfall, agile and stage gate

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The further I dig into new product development practices the more I crave a simple way of helping folks new to the concepts visualize them quickly. In that spirit, I’ve assembled a little pictorial journey through the intriguing landscapes of waterfall, agile, portfolio management and stage gate. For fun, there is also a description of how you can apply portfolio management techniques to individual agile project as a technique for additionally reducing the design risk. […]