Arcs in Strategy Games

It is common to hear players talk about “tactics” and “strategy” in games. In this case, the colloquial understanding of these terms happens to be pretty useful, in that it maps well to something that actually goes on in playing strategy games. With that said, it’s worth taking a moment to clarify these terms:

Tactics” usually refers to “short-term decision-making”. Questions like “should I move this character two steps forward, or three steps forward” are questions of tactics. Tactics are micro-level decisions in strategy game play.

Strategy” usually refers to “longer-term decision-making”. Questions like “should I be aggressive early, or be defensive now and attack later on” are longer-scale choices about a game that players make. Strategies are macro-level decisions in strategy game play.

In both cases, we are talking about a grouping of gamestate information over time and how it changes. I refer to this grouping as an “arc”. Continue reading “Arcs in Strategy Games”

Game Design Digest, from the Dinofarm Forums

A few months ago, I posted a thread on /r/gamedesign about how we should make 2017 a year with more game design blogging. Since then, a few Dinofarm Forums members have talked about starting up a game design writing career (or re-starting one). The last few days have had a huge uptick in interesting, quality articles on game design. I may be biased, because these are people who hover near my circles, but I find these to be some of the best articles on game design I’ve read in many years. (Here’s the good news: if you’re a reader of my work, you may also have the same biases!)

Here are some of the users over at the Dinofarm Forums (and the Discord!) who have been writing stuff recently. Follow these blogs!

Evizaer – Some of my long-term fans might remember Evizaer from an appearance he made on my old podcast years ago. He recently has started up a new blog and has a new article up about analogy (sort of like theme) that I think is quite good!

Elliot George – A newcomer to the Dinofarm community, Elliot produced this great piece, which is easily one of the most thoughtful pieces on strategy game design I’ve read in years.

Hopenager – Has started a completely brand new blog on game design. I have a few issues with the opening setup, but based on the last paragraph, I’m really excited to see where it goes.

Brett Lowey – This one doesn’t entirely count, because Brett is an established game developer, but I just really appreciated that he wrote this great piece on his “game design commandments”. I think this is something every game designer should do. (Also: his commandments are great!)

Disquisitor Sam – Started his new blog last year (I think) but it has recently gotten a facelift. His article on Auro I particularly recommend!

 

Already, 2017 is looking like it might be better than the last three years of game design writing combined. I should mention that a lot of these have happened in the last 36 hours. There are also rumblings on the forum of other people who are also starting blogs. Like I said in that reddit thread: if you’ve been thinking about writing about game design, do it! Ping me anywhere you can, and I’ll share your work. I want to do whatever I can to help foster a community of thought on game design.

Interview with Carolyn Petit of Feminist Frequency

Today I spoke with Carolyn Petit, the managing editor of Feminist Frequency, which you’ve probably heard about, since they’re easily the most successful and influential feminist/socially progressive games criticism outlet out there. A heads up: this is not a big formal “game design” conversation

Instead, here are some of the things we did talk about:

  • Some follow-up to my point about “be critical of the games you love” thing from the last episode with Tevis Thompson
  • A bit about Carolyn’s background, how she came to a “feminist awakening” after working at GameSpot
  • How game developers, especially indie white male game devs like myself can do a better job with representing people who don’t look like themselves
  • How the future is looking for representation and social issues in games

… and a lot more. I’d like to thank Carolyn again for her time, thanks to you for listening, and as always, thank you to the patrons who make this show possible.

To support the show, visit here.

CGD Podcast: Episode 34 – Videogames and Game Culture with Tevis Thompson

Writer and critic Tevis Thompson has been on my radar a long time as a rare person who talks about games in a way that is markedly less alienating to me than usual. I recently heard him on the 1099 podcast, which I recommend people check out, and I thought we could have a really good discussion about games and games culture, which that conversation just barely touched upon. And that’s just what we did! In this conversation we talked about big-budget games like The Witcher and The Last Guardian, violence glorification and other toxic politics of games, the hyper-defensive culture surrounding games, and a lot more.

Check out Tevis’s site here. Follow him on Twitter here.

As always, I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about it in the comments. And if you want to support the show, do so here.

New video series: HITSCAN – pop culture media analysis

I’ve been talking for awhile about how I’ve been working on a new pop culture media analysis show. It has taken me a long time to figure out what the direction for it would be, but the good news is I have my first video (and a short intro video) up already. I also have 80% of the next video ready to go, and I’ll try to get it going really soon.

And here is Episode 1! Enjoy.

Push the Lane!

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I’ve been working on this game now for over a year. It started as an abstract strategy game that was kind of like bejeweled or something, and then I decided to take it in a D&D Boxing direction with the Battle Blast theme.

Now the design is maturing in a lot of ways. One small example: instead of your attacks dealing random amounts of damage, minions have a random amount of health. So it’s basically just one of the ways to convert the output randomness to input randomness.

Another neat thing: you have stats, like attack damage and items that change that, and the enemies have health and armor and all of that, but health is visually represented as pips underneath a minion that simply “how many of your attacks it WILL take to take down this minion”.

Here’s a rundown.

Theme
It’s an American Gladiators or Nickelodeon’s Guts! type of TV game show. A sport – played single player, against basically an advanced strategic obstacle course, fighting robotic minions.

Continue reading “Push the Lane!”