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/

Keith Burgun weighs in on the recent discussions about score systems in strategy games. His new article basically argues for getting rid of them since they lend themselves better to short-term tactics or race-like structures than well-planned strategic decision making.

Thinking of your game in terms of points, and these short loops of getting points, I think lends itself to a game that repeats many short arcs. It also lends itself to thinking of a game as sort of arbitrarily expandable. […] The inherent nature of “gathering points” is, perhaps, less suited for a strategy game than for a contest. A strategy game is a structured thing with a beginning, middle and end. A contest is a measurement.

Check out the full article: http://keithburgun.net/against-score-systems-and-for-success-and-failure/