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Game Design: Dice

July 26, 2013

So I just read a book, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. It’s my first formal reading on the topic of game design, and it’s both invigorated and educated me. I don’t know why I was resistant to picking up a textbook on the topic–maybe I wanted to explore my own designs before allowing other people to influence me? That sounds right, I always wrote papers in college before doing research, because I didn’t want other people’s ideas to stifle my own. But anyway, I’m glad I picked it up, because it’s immensely valuable and I love reading textbooks.

So. Dice.

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Game Design: Character Design

July 7, 2013

So for the longest time in my RPG, I’ve been sitting on top of a single character creation concept, and been forming the rest of my game around it. However, as with all other aspects of the RPG, the time for character creation to receive a critical eye is nigh, and the time for Googling “Best tabletop RPG character creation systems” has come.

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Game Design: Exploration Mechanic

June 26, 2013

So I’ve had a stroke of inspiration, set off by my last post/article. After writing it, I started writing a “how do I apply this to my RPG design?” post, since I want the space module for my RPG to be just as awesome as Star Citizen intends to be. Well, I hit a tiny problem: the sensor operator is an absolutely terrible role for a player to have. Below I’ll describe why, and how I fixed it!

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Game Design: Mining in Star Citizen

June 23, 2013

A Wild New Blog Entry Type Appears! Alright, so normally I try to keep my blog focused on my game designs, but I’ve been obsessed with Star Citizen lately, so I wanted to share my thoughts on how Chris Roberts should go about designing the mining aspect of Star Citizen. I’d just like to emphasize that I’m not trying to tell the master how to do his job; just that outsider observers into design often bring a fresh perspective that can inform positive changes. I certainly know that sometimes I become obsessed with certain designs, spend weeks polishing them, only to realize that I’ve just polished turds. Well, Mr. Roberts, in the hopes that Star Citizen is turd-free, here are my thoughts on how to properly implement a mining minigame that proves to be actually fun rather than simply present.

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Game Design: Whether to Save the Best for Last

April 23, 2013

I’m sure most of you have heard the idiom “save the best for last”. It’s sort of an odd one because it doesn’t really describe any particular bit of advice, it’s just kind of a statement of fact: dessert comes after dinner, the best part of the episode is the ending, the main attraction happens after the opening acts, and so on. In a lot of cases, saving the best for last is a great rule of thumb for pacing yourself and making sure you have something to look forward to–and conversely, making sure you don’t eat your dessert or watch the main attraction, then leave. I’d like to discuss whether or not this concept applies to game design though. I don’t think it does.

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Game Design: Car Chases are Boring

April 17, 2013

So, as pretty much anyone can tell you, what works in one medium does not always work in another. But usually you can create something close, right? Take a simple gunfight. In a movie, it’s the action itself which entertains us. We know how the scene ends before it even begins, but how it gets there entertains us. Guns! Explosions! Men screaming and falling off ledges! Glass shatters, sharks swim to the top tanks and grab the villain’s foot! The hero who hasn’t been on camera in a full minute shows up to save the day! Of course the heroes win, but we enjoyed watching it. In a book, a gunfight is a more blunt affair: less spectacle, because every tiny bit of spectacle takes an entire paragraph or even page to set up and follow through with, and you really don’t have that much space if you want to keep the action flowing. So it’s bang bang, shooting over walls, and the excitement comes from not knowing how the scene will end. In other words, suspense v. spectacle.

Well, here’s another translation problem. Car chases. Or vehicle sections in general. They work in movies because you can have the spectacle (crashes! Hubcabs rolling away! Fruit stands! Burning rubber!). They work in books because you have the suspense (Where is this chase going? What will happen next? Was that car behind our hero a second enemy car or just a passerby? Oh no, they’re going to the docks, will one of them end up in the water? Will it be the hero?). But in games, be they video games or tabletop games… they’re the most boring thing, because they’re just raw mechanics. So the question is, can we define these problems, and can we overcome them?

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Game Design: Trigonometry is FUN!

April 10, 2013

Alright, this is a weird one. It’s more musing than game design discussion. It’s based on a simple question: instead of dice rolls or even miniatures, can you make trig a game mechanic in an RPG? Read the rest of this entry »

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