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”

CGD Episode 26: Auro, and my change in philosophy

works

This episode is undoubtedly my most vulnerable episode, wherein I talk about the failure of Auro, a game that I believe in strongly and which I worked on for six years. I talk about the process and the struggle of dealing with that and how it has re-shaped my way of looking at art. It’s a short episode, but I had to talk about this before I talked about anything else.

The above Venn diagram, which kind of expresses my recent dramatic change in philosophy, was based on an off-handed remark from a recent David Sirlin article.

Thanks for listening, and as always, you can support my work on Patreon.com.

The Default Number of Players is One

I did a Twitter poll recently:

Most people (almost half!) voted that there “is no default/ideal”. That probably sounds like a safe, reasonable choice, but it’s really a pretty bold claim to say that there is no default or ideal – certainly at least as bold as any of the other options.

In second place was “2 player”, which did not surprise me. What did surprise me was how close the margin was between “2 player” and “3+ player”, though. I would have expected the breakdown to be more like 40% “unanswerable”, 40% “2-players”, 20% “3+ players” and basically no one voting for 1 player. Actually, I still kind of think that if more people took the poll, it would probably head more in that direction. Continue reading “The Default Number of Players is One”

CGD Podcast Episode 20: Options in Games

cgdplogo_superwideIn this episode – our 20th! –  I talk about the idea of “optional game rules” and why they are to be avoided. I also go into detail on some experiences designing abilities for Auro. Enjoy!

 

CGD Podcast Episode 17: Rogue-likes and Other “Bar Games”

roguelikes

I don’t mean “bar” as in “pub”, I mean it as in like a resource bar. In this episode, I talk about Rogue-like games in detail, why it isn’t really a genre, and what the future of these games are.

What can we do with single-player strategy games? Must they all be “managing highly random resources”? I think we should question our reliance on output randomness and heavily variant input randomness (such as map generation in Civilization) to make single-player strategy games work.

It turns out that my two articles I wrote on score in the past were really outdated and they’re in the shop to be worked on. In the meantime, I recommend reading these for more thoughts on why the traditional high score system is a problem (which I claim in the episode but don’t really back up).

“Why I Hate The Term Permadeath”

Episode 12 of this podcast, which talks about good goals

Auro’s Single Player Elo System

A Roguelike Radio episode that I’m featured on that discusses score

A reddit “Weekly Game Design” that touches on it

Thanks for listening!

 

Support the show here on Patreon!

Why You Need the Clockwork Game

Let’s start from scratch. You’re a game designer. How can my work help you?

If you’re the kind of designer who wants to tell a good story, create a lush immersive atmosphere, express a social value, or just embrace the latest in graphics technology… this article – and most of my game design-specific work – isn’t for you.

But there’s a ton of designers out there who want to make a little “fun machine” – an interactive system where the player is doing stuff, gaining mastery, and being otherwise entertained for reasons other than atmosphere, story, social values or those sorts of things. Continue reading “Why You Need the Clockwork Game”