Prank wars have an ugly habit of spinning out of control. One person pranks another, then the victim gets back at the prankster with a prank of their own. The original prankster raises the stakes with another prank and so on and so forth.
While this sort of escalation is the kind of situation you want to avoid in real life, it is a powerful tool in game design. As a matter of fact, you can find some element of escalation in almost any game worth playing. Continue reading →
Google Risk-Reward and you’ll treated to page upon page on investment strategy. Risk-Reward may be key in getting rich (or going broke), but it’s also vital for making games fun.
The basic principle here is that, in games, the level of reward provided by an action should match the level of risk it entails. Low-risk behavior should generally provide low rewards. A highly rewarding action (say a high-damage attack or a high-value treasure) should require a commiserate level of risk otherwise players will never have a reason to choose a lower-reward alternative. Continue reading →
As the cliche goes: game design is more of an art than a science. As such, there are no hard, fast rules that dictate how a game should be designed. There are, however, mountains of guidelines and examples that provide insight into how to make a better game.
In this article, I’d like to present a few of the game design guidelines that I’ve found useful in my work. Again, they aren’t absolute rules but they are a great way to sanity check game designs to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Continue reading →
It seems I’m not the only one who suggests designing games enemy-first.
Recently, while reading some game dev books, I ran across a bit of advice with sentiments similar to one of my previous blog posts. The text in question is from “Shooting Game Algorithm Maniacs”, a Japanese game dev book focussing on SHMUPS (shoot-em-ups).
For folks who may not be able to read Japanese, here is my translation of the advice from the conclusion of Chapter 2 (called “Stage 2″ in the book.): Continue reading →
Multiplayer in video games is almost as old as the medium itself. It’s at least as old as Pong, right? As such an old institution in games, you’d think we’d have all the issues related to implementing multiplayer in games figured out by now. Of course, you’d be wrong. Otherwise, I’d have nothing to write about in this article.
In terms of handling multiplayer from a game design perspective, there are several issues that tend to slip through the cracks until they show up during actual implementation. In large teams, the late discovery of these issues can cause disproportionate amounts of time being spent to fix them as they wind their way from the discover’s desk to the people responsible for game design decisions and back to the feature implementor. Continue reading →
The classic SHMUP (shoot-em-up) may be one of the purest video game designs out there. Even for games like Ikaruga that implement systems that dramatically change the gameplay, the core mechanic stays essentially the same: the player must destroy enemies while dodging loads and loads of bullets.
Given the significance of the relationship between the player and enemy bullets, the design of said bullets is crucial to making a SHMUP work. The following is a series of guidelines that I use when implementing enemy projectiles in games. Continue reading →
Taking a little break from my usual diet of promoting my latest game and talking about procedural content, I thought I’d touch on a common trap that occurs in the process of designing games. If I had to give this trap a name, I’d call it the Mary-Sue Trap of Game Design. Basically, over-focusing on the abilities of the player character to the detriment of the rest of the game.
It’s surprisingly easy to Mary-Sue yourself during game design. When you start down the path of imagining what sort of abilities you want your protagonist to have, it’s very tempting to start pulling every neat gadget you can think of off the shelf and strapping it on. Where this can really get you into trouble is when you’re looking around for that “certain something” because your game just isn’t quite fun yet. You try adding a beam attack. Air-dashing. A counter system. But nothing quite clicks. You’re thinking about how you want to power-up your avatar as opposed to the whole game. That’s the Mary-Sue Trap of Game Design.
Note: This a re-post from my old blog, originally posted June 2010
On June 11, 2010, I released my first indie game, Legend of the Rune Lords, on Xbox Live Indie Games. LotRL is a short role-playing game featuring many of the trappings of full RPGs: stat-driven combat, leveling, multiple characters, and a cutscene-driven story. While hardly a great game, I think that it stands as a good example of what a determined (or at least stubborn) individual can accomplish in their spare time even while crunching at their day job. Continue reading →