Today’s article is a nuts and bolts dive into a specific implementation of the information horizon. Push The lane currently uses fog of war to manage the point at which new information is presented to the player over the course of a match. This is crucially important to the design of strategy games, especially single player ones, as single player games are not able to rely on other player’s future actions as a source of ambiguity. You can find the full article below!

Risk vs. reward in Crypt of the Necrodancer.
Risk vs. reward in Crypt of the Necrodancer.

Goals and win conditions are a popular topic in game design circles, but a lesser explored area of discussion is loss conditions. Trevor Murray goes into fine detail examining the relationship between the goal and the loss condition, how that plays out in several real-world examples, and advocates for a game system wherein player actions can often take them closer to winning and losing by way a specific loss condition, and how when coupled with a timer, this can result in desirable risk-reward balancing on the player’s part.

You can check out the full article here:

Interesting and practical talk by Soren Johnson (Civilization 4, Offworld Trading Company) about the nuts and bolts design decisions that went into Offworld Trading Company. Topics covered include:

-The consequences of converging resource buy/sell price to the same value
-Buying your own shares, buying other players, and combating snowballing advantage/complexity
-A “Game available” system for small multiplayer communitiies
-Allowing players to play singleplayer while queuing
-Eliminating players early early to mitigate kingmaking
-Initial bid to establish stating locations
-Requiring tournament players to stream to build a community
-The value of Discord as a community building tool
-Splitting a traditional RTS game along Macro and Micro lines because they simply contain so much
Micro: MOBAs   Macro: Offworld Trading Company

You can watch the full talk here:

SwiftSpear recently wrote an article stating:

I claim that a designer who puts effort into making sure their game is a better Skinner box is, almost objectively, just making a better game.

In the article, he goes on to make the distinction between “operant conditioning” with ANY reward and operant conditioning with inherently valueless rewards, coming to the conclusion that it is the nature of the rewards and not the conditioning itself that is important. You can read the article here:

Keith Burgun subsequently wrote a response defending the usage of the term “Skinner Box” as an indicator of manipulative reward systems. You can read it here:

Despite all our rage, we still respond favorably to operant conditioning.
Despite all our rage, we still respond favorably to operant conditioning.
Turn Complexity In the Board Game "Concordia"
Turn Complexity In the Board Game “Concordia”

Games Precipice is a blog primarily focused on board game design, but many (or all) of the same principles can be applied to digital games. This article is about manipulating interest, excitement and/or complexity levels throughout a match in order to create a sense of structure and satisfaction (which the article refers to as “pacing”).

Check out the full article here:

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:


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:

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: