CGD Podcast Episode 21: The “Classics” Problem

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What does it mean when something is a “classic”? I think there’s actually a huge problem here that needs to be explored. New work is created using new cultural and scientific understandings, and it’s universally better in almost every case. We need to understand and appreciate this fact, and stop glorifying things just because they’re old.

In this episode, you’ll also hear me talk about classic games like Go and Chess, as well as talk about a better distinction between art and entertainment. Enjoy, and let me know what you think below.

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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”

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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It turns out that my two articles I wrote on score in the past were really outdated and they’re in the shop to be worked on.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!

 

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CGD Podcast Episode 16: A Conversation About Rogue-likes with Black Shell Games

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I had a conversation with the main developers at Black Shell Games – Daniel Doan, Raghav Mathur, and Thomas Espinoza – on the topic of Rogue-likes, a design pattern that has appealed to both of us. In the episode, we cover topics like the relationship between Rogue-likes and gambling, grinding, difficulty, replay value, and other related concepts.

Check out Black Shell Games on Steam. Here’s Black Shell Games’ – which also acts as a publisher – complete list of games.

(Side note: apologies about the audio. There were four people on the conversation total and there’s a bit of noise, but I think it’s easy enough to hear.)

Enjoy!

Contests Explained

I have described the four essential “forms” of interactive entertainment, based on four distinct values that these four types of play produce. You can get a more in-depth introduction on these forms by reading this, but I’ll quickly break it down here.

First, you start off with a “bare interactive system” – this is an interactive system that has no goal. I call this the toy. Add a goal, and you have a puzzle. Allow for measurement, and you have a contest. Obfuscate the gamestate (allowing for decision-making) and you have a game.

I would say that the vast majority of people roughly agree with me on the first two forms, toy and puzzle. This makes sense – it makes sense that we would understand these forms first, because they are the simplest. Continue reading

Game Designers: Learn to Program

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When I was 11, my family got its first computer: an AST “Advantage!”, which sported a 66 MHz 486 processor, 4 MB ram and 32 MB of hard drive space. It wasn’t the greatest computer, even for the time, but it did have QBasic on it, and having always wanted to make games, I immediately dove into coding.

I stuck with QBasic for the following decade or so simply because I was comfortable with it. I made a bunch of shooters, platformers, and actually a lot of weird games. I made one called “Kill the Innocent” (download it here, but you’ll need DosBox to make it work), which featured stick figures walking along a bridge, and you aim a gun at them and just kill them. I remember coding a detailed system for how the man’s top-hat would float gently to the ground, and a very simple physics system that would allow you to juggle the man’s head in mid-air with shotgun blasts. (I guess I was subtly picking up on the ugliness of violence in videogames even back then, although I certainly wasn’t conscious of it, being that my AST Advantage was running Doom so often.) Continue reading