Editor’s Note: Hello all! Since I’m done with my book and Auro‘s finally out, I can get back to writing game design articles, and I’ve currently got a few in the pipeline. Today, however, I have a great guest article from Fabian Fischer. Fabian has a German-language game design blog of his own over at Nachtfischer’s Ludokultur. Enjoy!
Many modern videogames are content-based. They can be “beaten” or “completed” and have, once started, a more or less strictly defined “expiration date”. Some tell a linear story, others provide a set number of pre-built levels. What they all have in common is that their lifecycle, the period of time during which they are able to provide “fun” or value to the player, is directly dependent on the amount of content included. Once the player literally “sees it all”, there’s no more enjoyment to be had and it’s time to buy the next title. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are systemically complex games of strategic decision-making, which are usually much more replayable and therefore tend to follow a match structure: You win or lose and then play again. But even these games are not infinitely interesting. It’s just that the player determines when they stop providing value and then decides to stop playing. The following article takes a closer look at this decision-making process and the involved factors, making a case for elegance, depth and efficiency in game design. Continue reading
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!
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.
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!
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!
There are a few philosophical positions on game development that are, I would say, “anti-design”. In this short series, I will go through a few of them. We’ll begin with an article about what I call “the quantity design philosophy”.
Recently there was a discussion on the Google+ development group for the game Hoplite. The creator, Doug Cowley, is making some improvements to the late-game and asking people for advice.
Then, sort of in the middle of the discussion, another game developer chimed in with:
“At some point you’ll have to accept that it’s impossible to make a perfect game and stop tweaking 🙂 (Also, make more games!)”
This statement really angered me, precisely because it’s such a common sentiment in the world of game development these days. Perfect can indeed be the enemy of the good, but really, who’s even going for “perfect”? Are any games you’ve ever played in danger of being “perfect”? Perfect, in this context where a person is simply trying to do the right thing and improve their game, is a strawman.