Productive design day!
Oh god what am I doing…?
In case you didn’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure (Steam link). When you get right down to it, this game had a HUGE influence on my game design thinking, especially with respect to the kinds of pared-down, endlessly interesting little decision-making machines that I want to keep making! Auro, and Keith Burgun’s writing about a single-player ladder ladder/procedural content system (among lots of other interesting game-design insights!) have become the basis for BrainGoodGames!
Long story short, Auro is awesome, Dinofarm is awesome, Keith Burgun is awesome, and I’m super excited to follow and play their spiritual successor to Auro Alakaram! Of particular interest is this idea of “Chaff” spells, which may or may not be balanced, but are included for the sake of variety for players who favor that (or sometimes do) over serious, meticulously balanced play. I think there’s probably a ton of room for spells like this and I can’t wait to try em out!
There’s been an awesome resurgence on the Dinofarm discord of people blogging about game design! Tons to think about and great to have a community of people to bounce ideas off of.
You can check out a list that Redless made on the Dinofarm forums here!
I was watching a Lewis Pulsipher game design video where he talked about players who like to use Logic vs Intuition in games. He broke things down as follows
-Tend to balk at randomness
-Tend to like to “figure things out”
-Tend to want to come to a definitive conclusion
-Tend to like more serious “thinky” games
-Are okay with randomness
-Tend to go with heuristics or instincts
-Tend to be OK with fuzzy conclusions that may be incorrect
-Tend to prefer “beer n’ pretzel’ style games
I wanted to push back on this a bit an mention that I like to think about this in terms of Keith Burgun’s forms. Kieth defines puzzles as interactive systems that have “correct” solutions and games as those that feature much more ambiguity in terms of your approach. Basically this means that it is not ever confirmed whether your move was “best” or correct in a Burgun game (as it would be when you have solved a puzzle), but you can have some sense of whether it was good, or whether some moves are better than others through a developed intuitive/heuristic sense of the game system.
These Burgun games – systems that rely on heuristics/intuition rather than calculation – are what I am most interested in playing and creating. For starters, you can circumvent the calculation/busywork involved in taking a purely logical/conclusion based approach, and secondly, because your “solutions” are ambiguously correct, there is a lot of room for continual development of your internal heuristic framework as you continue to engage with the game system!
This commandment is in some sense the simplest, but also the most important and far reaching. It has implications that reach into all of the other mechanics, and to some extent it can be interpreted as the driving force behind the other mechanics. The fundamental premise of this commandment is to highly value the player’s time.
Players have many ways they could spend their leisure time. If they choose your game, make sure they’ve made a good decision.
This means a lot of very simple things for starters; do not have overly-long animations, do not force the player to replay content that has no new value to offer them, ensure that they spend the least amount of time fiddling around in menus and the most time actually playing your game. But the fundamental reasoning behind it goes a little deeper.
The design philosophy behind this commandment is the idea that games can in fact be a valuable use of an adult’s time through interactive merit alone. This primarily means making sure that your experience has strategic depth, presents the right challenge level for the player and encourages as much learning as possible. Games can be a worthwhile way to spend your time, if they can challenge, surprise and reward you. They can help improve your decisiveness (and the quality of those decisions), they can increase your ability to value things, and they can increase your spatial reasoning ability.
Perhaps more importantly can also teach hard-to-communicate lessons about sacrifice, determination and confidence in a safe, enjoyable environment. There is no need to try and hide the interactive systems in our games behind movies, music, fancy graphics or skinner box style manipulation. By including other sources of value or perceived value, players can develop the incorrect assumption that games need to be propped up by the values of other media, In fact, games can stand on their own as valuable as long as we give them the chance to shine by cutting away those unnecessary masks.