BrainGoodGames Design Commandments

I started BrainGoodGames last year because I felt a certain type of game was missing from the landscape. Over the years I’ve ravenously read watched and played as much varied game design thinking as I could, and I’ve come to some conclusions about the types of games I’ll strive to make. I call these the BrainGoodGames Design Commandments.

I may not meet all of these goals all the time, but they are the target that I’m aiming at. Also keep in mind that these are design guidelines for a specific type of game, and not applicable to all designs.

1) The complexity of the game should be in the strategy, not in rules comprehension (the player should know the rules!)

2) The game should have a clear win/loss state (match based play)

3) The player should be having the fun, not the designer (related to 1)

4) The game should always be moving towards its conclusion

5) The game will feature enough ambiguity to remain strategically interesting

6) The game will reward and encourage skill, learning and growth

7) The player should always be playing near the correct challenge level for them

8) The most interesting/fun way to play the game should also be strategically best

9) The game should not cease to be interesting without new content

10) The game should treat the player’s time as valuable

I plan to write a series of articles going into a bit more detail on each of these commandments, so stay tuned!

League Dev Diaries

Awesome to see devs thinking about design philosophies/changing and tweaking their games over time. League in particular moves extremely quickly making changes, but I think they probably have to because things are just basically guaranteed to break all the time with so many playable characters.

Basically, continual tweaking over time absolutely works, but is a pretty labor-intensive way to go about it, and ensures that your game has a definite shelf life of whenever you stop updating it. (Maybe it’s okay if the game features a revenue stream as long as players are playing it?)

Specifically, hearing Ghostcrawler talk about removing/tweaking false choices is super encouraging and cool!

Advance Wars Game Design

Today I was watching a cool video about Advance Wars map design. Makes me want to play some more Advance wars :).

In particular I really like the way randomness is handled in Advance Wars. For the unfamiliar, units all have 10hp, and when you get in a fight the system will tell you you will do 52% damage for example. This means you have a 80% chance to do 5 damage and 20% chance to do 6 damage. There are two reasons this is cool:

1) The variance is within a narrow range (i.e only one point of damage different out of 10). This means that you can normally account for both possibilities (unless you are far behind, which is fine), and often either result is fine, and will provide the same general outcome for the particular localized battle while…

2)  The different outcomes most often result in minor differences in the amount of hp surviving units are left with. This is moreso Input Randomness (more desirable) for later turns than output randomness in my opinion. (I still have to write an article outlining my thoughts on the distinction here).

In addition, Advance Wars even attempts and largely succeeds in playing with an effective and player-influenceable information horizon with fog of war (and some additional ambiguity with weather effects). Overall a very strong design achieved with a relatively low complexity in terms of unit types, terrain types and rules.

Day[9] and Single-Player Game Design

Was watching an old Day[9] video talking about single-player game design. He talks at great length about how “setbacks” are crucial for allowing long-term play and growth in most games. He uses the example of the Hearthstone ladder as a comparison point to building your city in a city-building game. He points out how on the Hearthstone ladder, you can lose and therefore go down in rank, whereas in City: Skylines, your city just continually gets better.

Interesting to see similar musings to my thoughts on single-player game design. Sounds like Day[9] might enjoy the single-player ladder in BrainGoodGames! Maybe someday…

You can find more of my thoughts on single-player evergreen games here

Minos Strategos Update 1.03a is Live

-Allowed you to view leaderboards when game in progress
-Added option to adjust Draft Mode rank
-Fixed bug with merging minotaurs not able to be attacked
-Fixed bug with merging minotaurs not getting golem buff
-Fixed bug with minotaurs spawning on top of player soldiers (edge of board)
-Fixed bug where a surrounded unit (that can’t move) was being highlighted during normal move
-Fixed bug with hydras sometimes not showing their path
-Fixed bug where leaderboards would swap when you entered bonus mode screen quickly

http://steamcommunity.com/app/577490/discussions/0/135508489637584578/

Chillout Games

Been playing a bit of Stardew Valley as a way to unwind from release, and I’ve come to really value the way it provides a relaxing atmosphere. 

Like a soothing piece of music, or meditative poetry, I think this chillout vibe is something I want to explore more. Puzzles like Sudoku already demonstrate this kind of thing in a way, and I imagine the decreased rigidity in games may allow for even more of this. I’m curious to see what playing around with winrate %s, rank presentation and a couple other things does to de-emhpasize learning, growth and calculation and emphasize meditation, relaxation and the feeling of things “falling into place”.

I have a couple ideas in the tank for an experience like this, and I’m excited for when I’ll be able to show you guys more!