Clockwork Game Design is now available for pre-order!

For the last year or so, I’ve been working hard on a book called Clockwork Game Design. It details a clear, useful design pattern for building elegant strategy games.

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How does it differ from my first book, Game Design Theory: A New Philosophy for Understanding Games? Game Design Theory was very broad. It talks about the history of interactive systems design, it talks about other forms such as puzzles and toys, and it talks a lot about modern videogames and some specific problems with them.

Clockwork Game Design is narrow and focused. It asks a specific question: how do we go forward with strategy game design? How do we make games that are significantly better than the ones we’ve made in the past? How do we make games that are not only easier to learn than existing games, but also have longer life-spans?

The answer is in the Clockwork Design Pattern.

The Clockwork Design Pattern is one that starts with a core mechanism – a basic action that is the primary means of interaction with the system. Supporting mechanisms support – but do not fight with – the core mechanism, and all of this is anchored by the Goal. The Goal is the ultimate expression of the core mechanism action.

To the extent that designers are able to create depth and elegance, they’re already using elements of this design pattern without even necessarily knowing it.

If you want to design strategy games, and you can only own one book on the topic, it should be Clockwork Game Design. Pre-order it now on Amazon.com!

 

Site Redesign

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on redesigning my site, for a few reasons. One, I finished my second book – Clockwork Game Design – and I am changing the visual design of this site to reflect that of the book (hence the black gears around the place). What you’re seeing now isn’t necessarily final, and there are probably still bugs, but let me know what you think overall.

One of the coolest things is an idea I got from David Sirlin’s site. For a long time I’ve wanted a way to show all my best articles in a more digestible format than just some giant list. What Sirlin did was put them into a nice grid. I’ve done pretty much the same thing. Tap on “Design Articles” above to check it out (or click here).

I’ve also gone back to many of my old articles and improved them a bit; I’ll continue doing that in the future. Your article is your baby! I’ll also take some offline when they’re no longer relevant or are covered by another newer article.

As to the book: it’s scheduled for release sometime in early 2015, but I’ll certainly have more information soon!

Comments: I’ve now re-enabled comments. It was too much of a pain to use the Dinofarm Games forums for discussions. Bring on the comments!

Auro is out!

Hey – remember that game Auro that I’ve been working on since… God, 2010? It came out the other day, on Android. I’ll be writing a big article about its game design and why it’s so special soon. I am really, really proud of this game, and I just can’t wait to hear what people think of it.

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The game will be coming out on iOS and PC pretty soon too, so keep an eye out for that stuff.

In the meantime, Android users, go play it now!

Weekly Design Problems Complete List

Here is the complete list of Weekly Design Problems on the reddit/r/gamedesign subreddit (which I moderate). Note that I haven’t had time to do one every single week since it started, although most weeks I do. Some good discussion in many of the threads, so it seems worth documenting. I will of course continue to add the problems to this list as they get created. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Weekly Design Problems Complete List”

Some 2014 News!

Hello! If you’re reading this – hey, thanks for reading my blog! I appreciate it. I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing more articles, but as you may or may not know, the reason for that is primarily that I am writing a book! Not my first book, which came out in 2012 – a different book! Let me take you through the things that I’ve been doing.

 

New Book – I’ll probably write more about it later, but for now, it’s a game design textbook. My first book was more of a treatise or something; an overall look at the state of game design, an analysis, and lots of theory. This book, on the other hand, is going to be much more hands-on, direct, and rather than pointing out specific problems, I hope this book gives people the tools to identify problems themselves. Anyway, I’m excited for it.

 

Auro – Also, I’m burning the midnight oil trying to get Auro together, which should be released at some point this summer. It’s really coming along, and I am so, so proud of it. It’s the kind of thing where, even if we had released it 6 months ago, I think it would have been one of the strongest single player games ever made. But now the level of polish and tightness is just so high – I really think people are going to love it.

 

Empire 1.3Empire: The Deck-Building Strategy Game (iOS | Android) just released its 1.3 patch, which I had been working on the design for for months. If you haven’t given the game a shot yet, now’s the time, for sure. It’s vastly improved. Monsters now roam around the map wildly, unit production requires you to build new cities, and tiles can be improved (and destroyed by them roaming monsters!)

 

Reddit – This doesn’t really make up for the lack of game design articles, but I do run the official “gamedesign” subreddit – go check it out. Every week (or, roughly every week, at least), I try to write a “weekly design problem”, which is like a question about game design in general. It’s pretty fun, and gets some decent responses.

 

Beyond that, you should definitely come by the Dinofarm Forums if you haven’t already. I’m there every day working with the Auro beta testers and getting into fights about various stuff. If I have any other big news, I’ll be sure to post it here. And I do have 5 or 6 half-written article drafts lying around… perhaps I’ll finish and publish one of those soon.

Again, thanks for reading.