game design

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Keith Burgun's picture

My book on game design!

Hi everyone! I really need to post here more often. But, between AURO and several other smaller projects, I've been super busy!

Shawn Delahunty's picture

Nothing Adds Up & The Dice Are Loaded - part 2 of ?

All right folks, this time I'm back to cover the second topic for this pair (group? series?) of articles. (As an aside: I have NO idea exactly how or why my stuff turns into multi-part explorations--it just does, all on it's own. Which is weird, considering I'm the guy supposedly running the keyboard when I write. So I have to ask your indulgence here.) Anyway, just to refresh your memory or in case you missed Part #1, here are the two game related topics I brought up for everyone to mull over.

  • Zero-sum games, or zero-sum outcomes
  • The danger and difficulty of "Truly Random"
Matt Barton's picture

Matt's Game Design for "Rampin' Rescue"

Several months ago I began working on a game that would combine elements from three classic games: Choplifter, Kickstart, and Defender. Unfortunately, I was never able to figure out how to use Gamemaker to simulate a vehicle going up and down slopes, so I'm giving up and moving on to something else.

Keith Burgun's picture

How "Turn-Based" Became a Bad Word

Most of us who are heavily involved in games and game design realize the massive benefits to simple, classic turn-based mechanics. I'm not going to say that turn-based is "better" than real-time any more than a screwdriver is better than a hammer; they're just tools which we can use to get the job done. These days, however, many game designers are indeed using a hammer to nail in a screw, and building some pretty shoddy birdhouses. So many games coming out today would greatly benefit from a turn-based gameplay mechanic - often you can see that the designers knew this, but that something held them back from using one. Today I'm writing about what this something is - a deep-seated cultural mistake that we make about games in general.

Keith Burgun's picture

My Philosophy and the Tale of 100 Rogues

In December of 2008, a friend of mine was asked by his boss to create an iPhone game for their company.  He and I were already engaged in some independent game development, so he said "I know just the guy to help us!"  That guy's name is... me! 

Keith's Picture!
Pictured: My Face (got stuck like that long ago)

I'm a writer, artist, musician, and even a little bit programmer, but I usually introduce myself to people as a game designer.  Most indie developers (or pros, for that matter) don't refer to themselves in this way - if a person designed and programmed a game they'll usually say they're the programmer or software engineer.  Game design is too often an afterthought - something that someone just does - despite the fact that it is the most important element (and the only necessary element) to creating games.  After all, you can create a game with nothing but words (like the game "Ghost") or nothing but rocks (like the game "Let's Throw Rocks At Each Other").  Game design is so ubiquitous to the human experience that we do it all the time without necessarily even realizing it.  As children, we practiced the art of game design when we would tell our friends "Ok!  You can't touch the rugs!"  And then if that was too hard, we'd practice our game balancing skills by "patching" our game - perhaps by saying something like "alright, well, you can touch the rug as long as you have your hands on the table."  Children understand the craft of game design without anyone explaining it to them, and yet so many in video game development in particular seem to lose sight of this as adults.  I have many theories for why this happens;  it's often the technological arms-race that we get sucked into, or a feeling like our games have to be more than just games to be worth anyone's time, or perhaps we just get lost in the theming of a game.  With my first commercial game, I was determined to not let any of those things happen.

Matt Barton's picture

Phil Campbell talks Nancy Drew Dossier

Phil CampbellPhil CampbellBoy, do I have a scoop for you! One of the best interviews we conducted at GDC was with Phil Campbell, creative consultant and the genius behind Lights, Camera, Action!, the first "casual" Nancy Drew adventure game. I played through this game recently and was very impressed. What Phil has managed to do here is make a full-length Nancy Drew adventure game without any of the tedium associated with the genre--this one is pure fun, all the way through. I think Phil is one of the best brains out there when it comes to game design, so I got in touch with him after we got back and sent him some questions. He was kind enough to respond with some really incredible stuff. What follows is an illustrated essay he wrote about his work that gives you a behind-the-scenes-look at one of the best adventure games in recent years. Enjoy!

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