People don’t know game design is a thing: more evidence

I’m writing my book, so I don’t have time to write a big thing today, but I wanted to share a little thing I found.

I’ve often made claims that not only are we (everyone) collectively very bad at game design, but that large segments of our population do not even know/acknowledge that game design is a discipline all its own, separate from programming, art, or other elements of game development to begin with.

There are actually even university programs with “Game Design” in their titles that actually have nothing to do with game design. Take a look at this nice, horribly wrong infographic I found in my research today.

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It’s from a website called “schools.com”, so I guess that’s kind of authoritative, and the infographic itself is nicely put together. Apparently, a game designer does the following things:

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I was the guest on the Ludology podcast

The Ludology podcast, hosted by Geoff Englestein and Ryan Sturm is one of my favorite sources for thoughts on game design on the internet. I met Mr. Englestein at the PRACTICE 2013 conference. Apparently he liked my talk, and so he brought me on to talk about boardgames, videogames, and game design generally.

It went really well – it was actually probably the most non-confrontational interview I’ve ever done. Please check it out and let me know what you thought!

http://ludology.libsyn.com/ludology-epiosde-77-board-to-bits

News: I’m writing a second book. Also, Auro!

I wanted to write a quick post to let people know what I’ve been up to. I haven’t been able to really update the blog with a new article in some time, and I might not for the next month or two. The reasons for this will become obvious in a moment.

I recently signed a contract with CRC Press to write my second book! This one, like the last, is about game design, however this one is much more of a practical “textbook” affair, while the last one was more of a philosophical treatise. In this book (which doesn’t yet have a title), I will go through my suggested process of designing strategy games, starting with concept, core mechanism, finding supporting mechanisms, goals, etc. There will be lots of exercises and I think it will generally be a great book for the game design classroom.

I’ll be spending most of my writing time in the next few months (not ALL of my writing time, though) writing this book, which means I won’t be able to write too many blog posts in that time. I will have news items and such though, still.

Speaking of news items – the other thing I’ve been doing like crazy is Auro! Just today, I created a new commercial site for the game (still a work in progress). What do you think? I didn’t have to do much; Blake’s amazing art kinda carries the whole thing.

But beyond that, I’ve actually been programming on the game myself a lot, which is kinda crazy, because I’m not a programmer. My struggle with trying to learn to program over the last 20 years has been extremely arduous and fraught with doubt. But recently, with Auro so behind schedule, I’ve just decided to DIVE IN head first. And weirdly, it’s kind of working out. I mean, I’ve read the first 3 chapters of about 20 programming books over the past couple decades, so something just must have stuck I guess.

Tons of features have been added recently. The game now tracks wins and losses, and doles out XP. There’s a whole records system that keeps track of everything you’ve done, and a records screen where you can reset your records, etc. Not to mention just a ton of polish to the messaging system (character portraits slide in and out all nice now).

So that’s what’s been going on. I want to write an article soon about slow real time games, maybe I’ll have time to do that at some point.

EMPIRE is out!

Yesterday EMPIRE, a game I’ve been designing for Crazy Monkey Studios for the past 8 months or so, was released.  It was a pretty quick turnaround – after working on 100 Rogues, which took about a year and a half, and AURO, which so far has taken nearly two years, it’s nice to design a game, make it, and put it out there.

It was a pretty different experience, process-wise.  Unlike AURO, I really knew what EMPIRE was going to be at the get-go.  The game that it ultimately was released as was very close to what I had in mind from the start – especially combat, which I feel is very strong in version 1.0.

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Despite the fact that I’m really happy with where EMPIRE is now, I feel that version 1.0 is just the beginning.  I have a lot of other plans for the game in future updates.  For instance, I’d like to change the way that monsters work on the overmap.  It would probably be good if monsters had the bases that they have now, but also sent out troops which milled about randomly until they came in contact with the player’s city.  That way, there’s a bit more life/emergence to the monsters, and it also makes the whole “I target you, you target me” thing – which is kind of strange at the moment – less of a problem. Monster cities would never “attack” you, only launch wandering monsters.  Monsters themselves would attack, but simply by walking onto your city.  Since you and the monsters are already very asymmetrical, it makes sense that the way they attack would be different than the way you do.

Another thing that I think the game might need is some third resource – perhaps “gems”, or perhaps “settlements” – that you can see through the fog at different locations on the map.  These would be required for certain tech things (such as perhaps Shaman’s Huts), but also finite, and could be wiped out by wandering monsters.  This would give exploration a much-needed boost in its coherence as a mechanism.

Anyway, overall I’m so excited about having another game I designed out there.  I can’t wait to hear what people think of the game.  If you know anyone who wants to review the game, send me an email and I can probably get you a promo code.