Today I interviewed James Lantz, game designer at Klei. Among numerous other games, he was for me most notably a designer on Invisible Inc., a really interesting X-Com-ish tactical strategy game, and Mercury, a small indie Rogue-like game that really boiled down how Rogue-likes really work in the smartest way I’ve ever seen.
(By the way: yes-relation! James is the son of Frank Lantz, who you can hear in my episodes 23 and 24.)
Some topics covered:
How James came to work for Klei
Our opinions on how to market strategy games
A little discussion about League of Legends and last-hitting
Game design writing
A bit about what growing up as the son of a game designer was like
You probably already know Tadhg Kelly, as he’s one of game design’s most prolific writers. He writes for TechCrunch, as well as his own blog at www.whatgamesare.com. In this interview I ask him about why there has been a falling off of game design writing over the past few years, including an interesting point about the role #GamerGate may have played.
We also talk about his new book that he’s been working on, as well as my concerns about VR/AR, both of which he writes about a lot. It was a great interview, and I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for listening. Special shout-out to Aaron Oman for his support as a Patron. If you want to become a Patron and support podcast episodes like this one, as well as articles, videos and even games from me, please support my Patreon campaign over at www.patreon.com/keithburgun.
Strategy game designers should start thinking about alternatives to “score systems” for their games. In this article I will talk about how and why we use score systems right now, what their weaknesses are, and how we can (as well as why we should) move beyond them. Much of this article is written with respect to designing single player strategy games, but the theory absolutely applies to multiplayer strategy games equally.
Score Systems in Videogames
Score systems have been relied on by all kinds of interactive systems designers since the beginning. Early videogames such as Pac-Man and Galaga had high score boards that players would compete for places on, whereas Super Mario Bros. had a score feature as a sort of extra added feature that really serious players could try to maximize if they got tired of beating the game.
It goes back further than that, of course. Pinball, which laid many of the foundations for videogame design tropes, also used a score system, not to mention some ancient games such as Go. Today, there are strategy games that use score systems, such as games like Civilization, Rogue-likes, or my own Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure. They’re appealing to designers because they’re so simple to implement and design; you can pretty easily take just about any simple toy/sandbox activity and slap a score on it, and then it almost instantly feels a little bit more competitive, a little bit more replayable, a little bit more “strategy-game-like”. Continue reading →
Hi everyone! This week, instead of a normal Clockwork Game Design Podcast episode, I bring you an episode of another podcast that I was very recently on – the Dinofarm Community Podcast. This is a podcast hosted and run by members of the Dinofarm Games community, over on the discord and forums. I came on this episode, #3, to discuss core mechanisms, and we contrasted them with Redless’ idea about core decisions. Overall, it was a good conversation, one that I think Clockwork Game Design podcast listeners will get a lot out of.
Enjoy! And subscribe to the Dinofarm Community Podcast, which will have new episodes weekly.
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 →