Today, in Episode 36* of the Clockwork Game Design Podcast, I had a great conversation with BrainGoodGames‘ Brett Lowey. If you don’t already know BrainGoodGames, they make some of the best single-player strategy games out there. All four of Brett’s games—Militia, Axes & Acres, Skyboats, as well as his latest, Minos Strategos—are available on Steam.
But making great games isn’t necessarily enough for me to want to have a conversation with someone. What made me interested was “BrainGoodGames’ Design Commandments” which he posted on his site recently.
The conversation was great and went to a bunch of interesting places. We covered his commandments, of course, but discussed his origins and what he considers to be the successes and failures of his games.
I should mention also that Brett is one of the editors over at gamedesigntheory.org, the new site I recently launched that highlights current game design bloggers and media producers.
Enjoy the episode!
*PS I think I said it’s 35 in the episode itself – ignore me!
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 →
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 →
Three podcast episodes in three days! My intention here was to get the podcast really rolling up front. I feel like it’s kinda crappy to have a podcast with one episode, and two episodes isn’t much better. So now there are three, which is a comfortable starting place, I think.
Quickly I’d like to let people know: I submitted the podcast to iTunes two days ago. Still waiting on the approval; from what I’ve read it can take between 30 minutes and 3 weeks (!). Hopefully it won’t be too much longer.
Today’s episode talks about some of the mythology that we’ve all accepted about technology – specifically virtual reality, AI, and graphics technology above all else. We sort of expect these things to solve our problems for us, but the truth is that they won’t.
(This episode doesn’t make much mention of fan comments, but I’ll get back to that next episode, promise.)