Game Grammar and Game Design Theory – Interview with Raph Koster

Today I had a conversation with the author of my favorite book on game design, as well as a designer on one of my favorite interactive experiences of my high school years, Raph Koster. The conversation goes for about 90 minutes, and like Raph said, we could have easily gone another four hours afterward. It was a great conversation that touched on a number of topics:

  • How videogame history both has a lot to teach us, but at the same time hasn’t changed much in some ways since the early days
  • Raph’s guideline for designing good abstract strategy games
  • Game grammar, and the books Raph has been working on for a decade
  • The state of game design theory discourse

Check out Raph’s website here. Also at the end of the podcast he mentions this article.

Enjoy the show!

As always, you can support this podcast by becoming a patron over at my Patreon page.

 

CGD Podcast Bonus – Introducing The Dinofarm Community Podcast

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.

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”

New video series: HITSCAN – pop culture media analysis

I’ve been talking for awhile about how I’ve been working on a new pop culture media analysis show. It has taken me a long time to figure out what the direction for it would be, but the good news is I have my first video (and a short intro video) up already. I also have 80% of the next video ready to go, and I’ll try to get it going really soon.

And here is Episode 1! Enjoy.

Clockwork Criteria: 6 Guidelines for Ideal Strategy Game Design

What are the criteria that make something a good “Clockwork Game”?

The Clockwork Game Design model is something I have been working on for the last five years or so. It is specifically an effort to figure out how to make the most elegant and effective strategy games possible. There are certainly practical reasons why you might not want a specific game to be a Clockwork game. But to the extent that you want your strategy game to be elegant, you should adopt as many of these principles as possible.

Above: my book

Below is a list of criteria that strategy games should strive for. I am sorting them by how controversial they are. In other words, I am putting the stuff people pretty much agree upon towards the bottom.

These are not ordered by priority. I am making no statements about which of these is more or less important; just that they are all something to strive for. Continue reading “Clockwork Criteria: 6 Guidelines for Ideal Strategy Game Design”

CGD Podcast Episode 32: Contests of Understanding, and Questioning Gun Worship in Games

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Hello everyone! A new episode, finally. This one is a distinct two-parter, coming in at about 45 minutes. I first talk about how games are better described as contests of understanding rather than contests of decisions. The “decisions” aspect of games tends to actually be a bit over-stated.

The second thing I talk about is a new IGN article that asks the question, “Are Guns In Video Games Holding The Medium Back?”

(Above is a screenshot from a new satirical VR game called The American Dream.)

Thanks for listening, and let me know what you think of the episode below.

Liked the episode? Please consider becoming a patron at Patreon.com. You’ll gain access to previews of new episodes, articles, and even get the first glimpses at my games and prototypes.