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. (more…)

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Game Designers: Learn to Program

1996pc_06 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.) (more…)

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The Clockwork Game Design Podcast: Episode 5 – The Limitations of Boardgames

cgdplogo_twitter While it's tempting to think otherwise, computers are the best tool we have for pursuing great game designs. In this episode, I also talk about how "abstract" games are problematic due to low information density, the information horizon, and a lot about the medium of board games.   Some relevant links: http://boardgamegeek.com/browse/boardgame - all game designers should make an attempt to get as familiar with as many of the top ~300 or so boardgames as they can. http://keithburgun.net/uncapped-look-ahead-and-the-information-horizon/ - Yet another link to this article! Nethack Wiki - Just hit "random page" a few times to see what an insane amount of content there is in this game. 2013 NYU Practice talk - Art of Strategy   As always, please visit my Patreon page to support the show. Thanks for listening!

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Clockwork Game Design Podcast – Episode 2: Distractions

cgdplogo_twitter Episode 2, already!? Yep! I spent essentially all day one day recording both of these episodes, because I wanted to really get the ball rolling. It's kind of annoying to have just one episode of a podcast, I feel like. Today's episode deals with the distractions and other obstacles that have slowed our growth in the path to progress in game design. I think I've gotten much more into the groove with this episode - now with fewer "ums" and less housekeeping! Here's a few things I said I'd link to in the show notes:

Greg Costikyan's "I Have No Words & I Must Design"

Richard Terrell's old site - also, his new site.

For those who want a direct feed URL, go here: http://keithburgun.net/feed/podcast/ As always, please let me know what you think of the episode. And if you'd like to support the show, visit http://www.patreon.com/keithburgun.  

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Anti-Design Philosophies: Quantity Design

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. (more…)

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