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.
Was watching an old Day 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 might enjoy the single-player ladder in BrainGoodGames! Maybe someday…
You can find more of my thoughts on single-player evergreen games here…
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!
Couple random design lesson thoughts from SkyBoats:
-Tutorialization process went much better for most people than for Axes and Acres. The semi-guided FTL style tutorial seems to work well, and is going to be the default for BrainGoodGames going forward.
-Wind patterns do a good job of allowing players to create a cool machine to score points with, and heavily rewards smart forethought and play
-SkyBoats does a good job of making your moves feel like an AWESOME thing you did, rather than just scraping by. I really like this aesthetic
-Unlockables that trigger on win and loss are a good way to take some of the sting out of a loss
-Depth is great, but I need to more strongly consider the amount to which a player can process/where the information horizon is placed (Minos Strategos does a better job balancing this I think)
-Wind patterns are a cool mechanic, but some players are too overwhelmed to really dig into them
-Being able to use boat powers in any order is a good example perhaps of somewhere that the complexity ramps up a bit too hard
Having said that, there are a lot of things that are really neat about this system that I want to explore a bit more. I want to try adding a stripped down version of the concept as an alternate game mode. Smaller board, hand of cards rather than goods providing powers, fewer boats/one boat. Would you be interested in a mode like that?
Played some Base Set dominion this past weekend, and it reminded me how much I appreciate the clean and elegant design of this game. As a result, I’ve been reading through a bunch of the Dominion 2nd edition changes. 🙂
First off, it’s very cool that Donald X Vaccarino and Rio Grande are willing to go back to tweak and fix things in already released games (a rarity in the board game industry).
More specifically, it was very gratifying to see that a lot of the card removals were in line with the cards that I felt were tedious/not pulling their weight/underpowered in the base set (Spy and Adventurer being excellent examples). The replacements also seem to be in line with the elegance of the other Base Set cards, which is something I tend to value highly!
In short, Dominion 2nd edition is cool, DXV should feel good about it.
At Raph Koster’s suggestion (I think it was him), I’ve been playing through the arcade games on MAME sorted chronologically. It’s FASCINATING to watch games evolve in an environment where there are no genres or rules established yet. Almost every game is an incredibly new and amazing concept, and they’re all fun, because there is no visual or audio spectacle for them to fall back on if they weren’t.
Equally interesting is that EXTREMELY early there were a run of clones of a multiplayer snake-like games (I kind of always assumed that snake was first, and that multiplayer snake was more or less invented by Tron?). So we either have these incredibly innovative and distinct group of games ever or EXACT clones. It’s super refreshing and cool! Recommended for any game designers out there!
This is definitely the best forum thread I’ve seen in a long time (maybe ever?). It’s pretty in-depth and starts out sliiightly flamey, but ends up becoming very analytical and useful. AWESOME GAME DESIGN INSIGHTS WITHIN.
Superhot is starting to look really awesome! Continuous space and continuous time, but with a turn-based type feel. Really interested in seeing where this one is going. This type of design seems like pretty fertile ground.