Ludomedia #80

May 15, 2021

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Frank Lantz & Naomi Clark: Looking Back and Looking Forward

  • “The thing that makes a game actually work is often not the same thing as the thing that makes it sound cool.”
  • “We don’t have any idea what we’re doing. […] And actually it’s totally fine that that’s the case. […] Understanding games, in part, means finding out what we’re discovering by making them.”

Keith Burgun: How To Add Strategy To Your Tactics Game

  • “The classical way that developers have added longer arcs to tactical games has been to have a second screen, from which you draw a few variables, such as which troops have survived, what loot you’ve found, and things like that. You often have some kind of base building or RPG mini-game, as is the case in X-Com, or Into the Breach. But what if you’re interested in asking the question: ‘how can I make the tactical game – the battlefield game *itself* – more strategic?'”

Mark Brown: The Power of Video Game HUDs

  • “Ultimately, if something can’t be made clear to the player then maybe it’s not a good game mechanic and should be simplified. UI isn’t a band-aid to fix broken game mechanics. And this is why it’s important to design the HUD in tandem with everything else and not throw it together at the end.”

Rune Skovbo Johansen: Designing for a Sense of Mystery and Wonder

  • “I play games to get to explore intriguing places, while challenge and story is secondary to me. But there still has to be a point to the exploration. I don’t want to just wander around some place – I want to uncover something intriguing and ideally mysterious. But the mystery lies not in the uncovering; it lies in the anticipation, or rather the lack of knowing exactly what I might find.”

Samuel Ratchkramer: Truth and Lies in Game Design

  • The idea that games are ideally some kind of canned holodeck program induces a fixation on surface-level imagery over meaning and utility. […] I curse you with the seed of doubt. I curse you to scrutinize the games you love and wonder if they’re everything you thought they were. But I don’t curse you in order to share my pain – I curse you because in the end I promise it isn’t a curse. I really don’t miss all the lies, because experience has taught me that they absolutely cannot compete with truth, with the real.

Game Log Q1/2021

April 1, 2021

A tweet-based journal of what I’ve been playing…

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Crimson Company: Neuer Kickstarter am 23. Februar

January 27, 2021

Hinweis in eigener Sache: Am 23. Februar kehrt Crimson Company zurück auf Kickstarter! Neben der mittlerweile dritten Erweiterung Wildwood Tales wollen wir auch versuchen, eine PC-Version an den Start zu bringen. Letztere wird voll kompatibel mit den bereits verfügbaren Apps für iOS und Android sein, die am selben Tag (nach einem finalen Reset des bisherigen Testlaufs) in ihre offizielle Early-Access-Phase starten.

Begleitet wird das alles von einer Reihe Live-Streams, unter anderem von Tom Vasel im Rahmen der Dice-Tower-Show “What’s APPening?” und von Hearthstone-Streaming-Größe Dekkster.

Noch etwas ausfĂĽhrlicher haben wir den ganzen Prozess ĂĽbrigens in unserem aktuellen Newsletter dargelegt.


Ludomedia #79

January 5, 2021

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Kevin Kuipers: A Pico-8 story: How the fantasy console unlocked Frédéric Souchu’s dreams

  • “Pico-8 provides both strict limitations and straight forward creation allowing you to easily make amazing playable creations in a few hours. Alongside the all-in-one suite, Pico-8 also provides a platform to share your creations with the community and a forum to meet other Pico-8 enthusiasts. As you would expect, some of them are insanely skilled.”

Mark Brown: How Watch Dogs: Legion Works

  • “Because it’s not supported by the game design in any real way, it’s all rendered largely meaningless. […] Watch Dogs: Legion is a strong reminder that innovation alone is not worth chasing. It’s only when those clever ideas are actually supported by the rest of the game and become a critical part of the structure, that they become legendary bits of design.”

Matthewmatosis: Meta Microvideos

  • “In a sense, games are evolving to exploit us. […] On paper, wouldn’t we all agree that getting better at a game yourself is much more rewarding than pretending you’ve gotten better by unlocking more upgrades? […] As a species, we have these collective weaknesses and, now more than ever, games are tapping into them.”

The Game Overanalyser: The Immersive Fallacy in Game Design

  • “Maybe VR is making the same mistake as traditional games: focusing on the sensory dimensions of representation instead of recognizing what kinds of novel mechanical and storytelling experiences they can craft.”

Timothy Welsh: (Re)Mastering Dark Souls

  • “For games developed explicitly around recurrent user payment monetization models, this reorganization of play as its opposite is fairly easy to identify. Dark Souls, however, was not designed for recurrent user payments. It has never included microtransactions and its one downloadable content patch was distributed for free. […] At the same time, however, Dark Souls cannot completely resist the neoliberal reformatting of play.”

Game Log Q4/2020

January 2, 2021

A tweet-based journal of what I’ve been playing…

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PICO-8: Kreativität durch Beschränkung

December 2, 2020

PICO-8 ist eine frei erfundene “Fantasy-Konsole”, die es so physisch nie gegeben hat, fĂĽr die aber seit einigen Jahren von einer eingeschworenen Fangemeinde unzählige Spiele entwickelt werden. Der Clou besteht dabei nicht nur einfach im “Retro-Feeling”, sondern der Philosophie, durch Beschränkungen Kreativität zu stiften.

Alpine Alpaca ist ein alpiner Deckbuilder… mit Alpaka!

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Ludomedia #78

November 27, 2020

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Andreas Papathanasis: The argument for simpler games, in an industry obsessed with complexity

  • “This common obsession with complexity (regardless how well intentioned it starts) is at the root of many problems in the industry. Lack of focus and vision is often cited as a reason for a project that failed, and/or caused significant crunch and stress to employees. It is directly associated with complexity.”

Brett Lowey: Axes of Victory

  • “The Strategy Dance: Players make moves that change their commitment and power along each axis (some moves also change how much an opponent knows about each). Each player tries to find a “window” in which their power along some axis is sufficient relative to their opponent or the game state to allow for a win.”

Em Lazer-Walker: Using Game Design to Make Virtual Events More Social

  • “Roguelike Celebration took place in a custom browser-based text-based social space. Most of the UI and UX design were based on modern chat apps like Discord and Slack, but structurally it much more resembled MUDs, the text-based precursors to modern online MMOs.”

Keith Burgun: Clockwork Gamefest – 5 Year Anniversary Show

  • “Clockwork Gamefest: a conversation with a bunch of designers to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of the Clockwork Game Design Podcast. Guests include: Raph Koster, Dan Cook, Frank Lantz, Richard Terrell and many more!”

Story Mode: Outer Wilds — Storytelling Through Exploration

  • “The key to beating the game lies in making these paradigm-shifting scientific discoveries. […] Your tools haven’t changed and the places you can go haven’t changed, but suddenly you’ve unlocked a new rule about how to navigate this world because YOU have changed.”

🇩🇪 Literaturhinweis

Mario Donick: Let’s Play! Was wir aus Computerspielen über das Leben lernen können

Eine durchweg lesenswerte Abhandlung ĂĽber die diversen “Mehrwerte” des Spielens (und zum Teil auch ihre Kehrseiten). Der Schreibstil ist zugänglich und der Inhalt setzt keine speziellen Kenntnisse voraus, sodass sich das Buch auch als EinfĂĽhrung fĂĽr “AuĂźenstehende” eignet und, sofern sich darauf eingelassen wird, durchaus Ăśberzeugungsarbeit leisten kann. der Der Autor ist seines Zeichens Spielemacher (u.a. LamdaRogue) und Kommunikationswissenschaftler.

  • Aus dem Vorwort: “Ich will zeigen, dass Spielen an PC und Spielekonsole uns Erkenntnisse ĂĽber unser Leben und unsere Wirklichkeit auf eine Weise vermitteln kann, wie es andere Medien nicht können, und dass wir etwas Wertvolles verpassen, wenn wir Spiele nicht ernstnehmen.”

Ludomedia #77

October 20, 2020

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Andrea Roberts: Designing a Roguelike for People Who’ve Never Played Roguelikes

  • “What is the heart of the genre? Obviously there’s procedural generation, there’s permadeath and there’s that intense challenge. I see all of that as serving this big goal of learning.”

Andrew Aversa: The End of Permadeath

  • “When you have permadeath […] you are basically guaranteeing that early content is going to be seen over and over. You’re making a promise to the player that they’re going to die and so we as developers are going to make a wide variety of content for you at the beginning of the game.”

Jason Schreier: Cyberpunk 2077 Publisher Orders 6-Day Weeks Ahead of Game Debut

  • “Polish video game developer CD Projekt Red told employees on Monday that six-day work weeks will be mandatory leading up to the November release of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, reneging on an earlier promise to not force overtime on the project.”

Mark Brown: Are Lives Outdated Game Design?

  • “So are lives outdated? Well, it’s really down to how they are implemented, how they are balanced, how they are supported by the other systems in the game and how they are presented to the player. But more importantly it’s about why they are implemented. […] The most amazing games come about when every single system is added with intention, thought and care.”

Tom Francis: What makes a good death?

  • “Failure of execution: I know what I was trying to do, the challenge wasn’t difficult or interesting, I just want it over with. […] Failure of foresight: I knew the rules, I failed to foressee how they’d interact.”

Game Log Q3/2020

October 16, 2020

A tweet-based journal of what I’ve been playing…

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Ludomedia #76

September 23, 2020

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Celia Hodent: Emotion in Game Design (A UX Perspective)

  • “An art form is going to manipulate emotions by definition, but we need to be careful about what it is we’re manipulating and if we’re using some of these emotional tricks not to serve gameplay, not to improve the experience for the players, but to reach our business goals by making players come back or spend more.”

Kristian A. Bjørkelo: “Elves are Jews with Pointy Ears and Gay Magic”: White Nationalist Readings of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • “If an action is designed to be possible, is it a subversive result of an oppositional reading by the player? Or should it be considered a dominant or preferred reading, as the game indeed allows for it, and may not even discourage this reading by punishing certain actions through game mechanics?”

Matthewmatosis: The Last of Us Part 2 Review

  • “To be clear, I always acted as was expected of me on my first playthrough, but the gap between presentation and mechanics became obvious regardless. One key factor here is just how often the gameplay shifts into some kind of scripted event. […] Flipping a script made it abundantly clear how little agency I had as a player. So all of a sudden the game felt like two puppets I was barely in control of acting out a film I had no impact on. […] I lost any interest in pretending to pull the strings.”

Mark Brown: The Psychological Trick That Can Make Rewards Backfire

  • “There’s a huge body of evidence that says when extrinsic motivation is attached to a task that we already find intrinsically motivating, we suddenly become way less interested in the task. Other studies show rewards can also make people less creative, worse at problem-solving, more prone to cheating and may lose motivation entirely once the rewards stop, even though previously they were happy to do it for its own sake.”

Tom Simonite: AI Ruined Chess. Now, It’s Making the Game Beautiful Again [Full Paper]

  • “Kramnik presented some ideas for how to restore some of the human art to chess, with help from a counterintuitive source—the world’s most powerful chess computer. He teamed up with Alphabet artificial intelligence lab DeepMind, whose researchers challenged their superhuman game-playing software AlphaZero to learn nine variants of chess chosen to jolt players into creative new patterns.”