Lowey’s latest game: Minos Strategos

We previously highlighted Brett Lowey’s Game Design Commandments that he defined for his company BrainGoodGames. Now Keith Burgun, host of the Clockwork Game Design Podcast, sat together with Lowey to talk about his career in game development and discuss those guidelines in detail. This resulted in a profound conversation not to be missed by any strategy game designer out there.

The episode is available here: http://keithburgun.net/brett-loweys-game-design-commandments/

What’s the relation between solvability, depth and boredom?

Keith Burgun’s new piece contrasts the meaning of solvability in the computational sense with how it can be defined to be useful for game designers. On top of that it makes a few unusual points about how “too much depth” and in turn “too little sovability” can actually lead to the opposite of keeping the game interesting for its players in the long run.

Check it out here: http://keithburgun.net/solvability-vs-depth/

Imbroglio and Morphblade
Imbroglio and Morphblade

As an unintended follow up to today’s article about Imbroglio, here’s Tom Francis’ article on his “playable game criticism” of Imbroglio: Morphblade! It delves into some interesting discussion on the implications of hit points, how much decision making should be made upfront by the player and how re-thinking your early design assumptions can help avoid local-maxima in your designs.

You can find the full article here: http://www.pentadact.com/2017-03-11-morphblade-and-imbroglio-making-a-game-to-test-a-critique/


Imbroglio's grid-based "deckbuilding" screen.
Imbroglio’s grid-based “deckbuilding” screen.

Very cool post by Vivafringe about the intriguing Imbroglio by Micheal Brough. This one talks about the balance that “Izu Mode” in Imbroglio manages to strike between extremely high levels of deckbuilding customization (and the influx of content that requires) and practical constraints on the production/balance/maintenance of new content (which certainly isn’t free!). Seems like a very cool approach to solving the problem, and certainly has gotten my attention as something to potentially try out.

You can find the full post here: https://vivafringe.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/imbroglios-izu-mode-is-the-way-forward-for-deckbuilding/

Ethan Hoeppner builds off of his definition of “information generalizability” and especially the difference between calculation (the “hard” mathematical solution to finding the best possible move) and analysis (the more intuitive and automatic process of making ambiguious decisions). Interestingly he also draws a connection to the “burden of optimal play”:

The fun strategy and the strategically optimal strategy should be one and the same, but if you give the player infinite time to calculate, they aren’t. You force the player to choose which strategy they will go with: the fun strategy of using analysis, or the boring-but-optimal strategy of using calculation.

Find out more at his blog: https://ethanhoeppner.github.io/gamedesign/turn-based-strategy-games-need-turn-timers.html

On his blog Wonderlust, Elliot George recently wrote about emergence and chaos in games. Continuing his previous explorations of systemic learning, he delved deep into the nature of complex emergent behaviors and their often ambiguous implications in regards to game design:

So there is a kind of tension here, chaos is good for increasing the number of mental models that we use, and therefore offers a lot of opportunities for systemic learning, but it also increases the usefulness of memorisation, which is mostly surface learning.

Check out the full article: https://elliotgeorge.net/2017/02/21/emergence-and-chaos-in-games/

Brett Lowey recently put together a whole collection of posts laying out the game design guidelines behind the BrainGoodGames releases. The ten “design commandments” contain many state-of-the-art design principles of deep and original strategy games.

But beyond “classics” such as elegance, emergence and ambiguity, there is also a strong focus on the experience of playing. Putting fun and constant intellectual enrichment first, as well as treating the player’s time as a valuable good, are core pillars of the described design philosophy.

For all the details, visit: http://blog.braingoodgames.com/2017/02/15/braingoodgames-design-commandments/

“Arcs are one of the fundamental pillars of form, or structure in strategy games, and so they should be considered carefully in any design.”

Keith Burgun explores the topic of “strategy vs. tactics” from a new perspective. The concept of “strategic arcs” serves as a tool to provide strategy games with a more coherent structure. A careful distribution of those arcs can not just help in determining the optimal length of a game, but also in creating “more unique and special” games overall.

Check it out here: http://keithburgun.net/arcs-in-strategy-games/

Evizaer has a new article on his game design blog No Hidden Info has a new post about what he calls “Discontinuities” in randomness. It’s building off of the last few articles about “near” and “far” randomness, as well as a recent article on agency.

Players care much more about random results that cause certain numbers to cross certain boundaries. Even direct and seemingly close randomness can be effectively blunted through an understanding of when changes caused by randomness immediately matter and when they don’t. Randomness denies agency most when its effects immediately generate a big response from the system.

Check out the full article here: http://nohidden.info/near-randomness-and-discontinuities/

Gwent avoids several pitfalls which plague Prismata
Gwent avoids several pitfalls which plague Prismata

Today’s post by Fabian Fischer is a dive into the role that the hidden information (primarily through card draws) allows the game to avoid feeling “oppressively stressful”. It also provides insight into how the potential for card game design to slide towards luck-driven outcomes is mitigated by carefully chosen mulligan, deck construction and game structure (through a “best-of-three” format).

You can check it out here: