On his blog, Benjamin Cribb recently published a sort of “meta-design” post, not discussing concrete design principles, but rather the process of developing theory itself.
Better understanding the common or competing structures of game design theories will help us to be more diligent in crafting these theories, and reduce confusion while debating them.
It’s a really interesting read! Check out the full piece: https://bennycr.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/how-system-discovery-culture-progresses/
Fabian Fischer has a new featured piece up on Gamasutra today about the “transparency” of game mechanics.
If players have to deal with adding and subtracting numbers constantly, there’s little time left for truly deep and interesting decisions. That’s why information should, whenever possible, be represented in more intuitive ways. A typical example of this is a tactical grid in turn-based strategy games that represents complex mathematical relations in a very accessible way. And if there are still bare numbers involved, they should ideally be small have a very discrete range, so that a human brain can easily deal with them without having to take any intermediate steps of abstraction first.
Check it out here on Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/FabianFischer/20170810/303441/Game_Design_Principle_Transparency.php
Nikhil Murthy has a new post up over at Gamasutra. In it he expands on the idea of “foreshadowing” which we typically know from storytelling media. He argues that in the context of games, this concept can also be used in ways which better fit the medium than just copying what movies are already doing. And that means taking a look at the gameplay mechanics themselves.
Check out the full article: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/NikhilMurthy/20170719/301979/Mechanical_Foreshadowing.php
Keith Burgun mentioned to acquire another fantastic guest for his Clockwork Game Design podcast. In the new episode he talks to James Lantz, among other things the design mind behind one of the best strategy games of recent years: Invisible, Inc.
The discussion ranges from strategy games design in general, over a short excursion about last-hitting in League of Legends, to being the son of a game design guru.
Give it a listen: http://keithburgun.net/interview-with-james-lantz-designer-of-invisible-inc/
Very interesting post about the design of the board game Orleans. Games precipice frequently has some interesting insights into game design patterns, and are well worth checking out! The link to the full article is below!
If the personal objectives we looked at in the last section can drive divergence and motivate players to try something new, community objectives are another tool that game designers can use to drive convergence, or areas of collective interest and competition.
Game Design Analysis – Orleans
Phillip Zupke wrote an interesting philosophical piece on game design over at Gamasutra.
As soon as we start asking ourselves why a certain change leads to a particular outcome, we step into the realm of “selfconscious design”. The result would be that we can abstract the reasons for an emerging behavior of our design. By knowing why something works, we have the power to apply generic rules to intentionally instigate a certain user-behavior or emotion through our design.
Read the full post here: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/PhilippZupke/20170509/297644/The_Uncertainty_of_Design.php
On his blog Ethan Hoeppner goes into depth regarding the ways information can be provided to players during a match of a strategy game. He introduces the interesting concept of deliberately using “information spikes” to disrupt the players’ plans so that they regularly have to readjust their strategy on the fly, while still being able to make relatively predictable use of the constant flow of information in between.
Full article: https://ethanhoeppner.github.io/gamedesign/plan-disruption.html
Here’s a new piece from Frictional Games, the creators of Penumbra, Amnesia and SOMA. It offers a somewhat new way of looking at the relationship between mechanics and “story”, although it seems like they use the word “story” interchangably with “theme”.
This article goes over a framework for understanding how videogames work. It divides games into systems, story, and a mental model, and then shows how these interact. Using this system makes it easier to make design decisions and enables one to have insights into the workings of a game.
Read the full article here: https://frictionalgames.blogspot.de/2017/05/the-ssm-framework-of-game-design.html
There is a new article up on No Hidden Info. It’s an attempt to explore the very nature of interesting decisions in a less “vague and unsatisfying” manner than many of its precursors. The heart of the essay lies in the concept of “tension”:
Rules (player actions and environmental rules alike) come into tension with one another as a result of three properties interacting to create clashing incentives: exclusivity, situationality, and indirectness.
Check out the full text: http://nohidden.info/Tension/
The narratology/ludology war wages on! Check out a recent entreaty by our very own Fabian Fischer about how artistic media is best when it plays to the strengths of its form. Link to the full article is below: