Ludomedia #72

March 2, 2020

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Brett Lowey: Action Funnels

  • “An action funnel is any system in a game that takes a wide menu of possible player actions and limits it to a subset of currently possible actions. […] So help your players navigate a complicated and interesting game space without heavy proofreading, action parsing and calculation. Use Action Funnels!”

Brett Lowey: Skill Compensation

  • “Skill Compensation is the degree to which a player’s performance is reflected in the final outcome of a match. […] Varying Skill Compensation can have both positive and negative effects on your game design, depending on what other properties you’re optimizing for (evaluation, learning rate, playfulness, etc).”

Joost van Dongen: Five important realisations about game balance

  • “1. Overpowered is much worse than underpowered […] 2. Variety always adds imbalance” […] 3. Competitive players often dislike randomness and luck […] 4. Balance automatically becomes worse over time […] 5. ‘Perfect’ balance is impossible”

Mark Brown: How Level Design Can Tell a Story

  • “Environmental storytelling requires a certain level of deductive reasoning as we connect up details to create an overall story. We use investigative and archeological skills to determine relationships, cause and effect, and history. This makes us an active participant in the storytelling process and not just a passive viewer.”

Keith Burgun: Achieving playfulness in strategy game design

  • “A playful strategy game is deep: there is a huge range of possible tactics and strategies. […] A playful strategy game is expressive: each player plays the game a little bit differently […] A playful strategy game feels low-stress. You don’t have a feeling that if you make one mistake, you’re screwed. […] A playful strategy game has a balanced difficulty. […] You have to play seriously, but not so hard that you don’t have room for experimentation or so hard that the experience becomes stressful.”

Ludomedia #71

January 28, 2020

Ludomedia

Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.


Brett Lowey: The “Playfulness” Property of Strategy Games

  • “So I’m not talking about simplicity/complexity, and I’m not talking about depth. […] Instead playfulness refers to a property of games that encourages players to play with their gut/creatively, and minimizes the incentives to calculate/count/solve.”

Elliot George: Complexity and Noise in Games

  • “I noted that [players] are in principle unpredictable, but they are not the same thing as noise. In some contexts it is possible to improve ones ability to predict other players. […] Players are, at the very least, weighted noise generators, and in some contexts they are noisy pattern generators.”

Iggy Zuk: Modularity

  • “Modularity in game design can be used to improve the depth of a game by introducing complexity. This is done primarily by breaking up an object into many components and having them all do something. […] Systems become more fundamental to the overall structure of the object the deeper they are.”

Mark Brown: The Two Types of Random

  • “Randomness can be an incredibly important part of games. It’s used for variety, balance, rewards, the information horizon, and probably more things I’ve forgotten about. […] Understanding the difference between input and output randomness is perhaps the most important thing to learn.”

Randy Farmer et al.: Prosocial economics for game design

  • “Multiplayer games can help build a player’s social support network. What would game design look like if our goals included reducing loneliness, decreasing toxicity and boosting a player’s positive connections with others?”

Ludomedia #70

December 16, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Christian Huberts: Die Spieler scheißen auf den größten Haufen

  • “Death Stranding belohnt somit Influencer. Jeder möchte viel Laufpublikum fĂĽr seine Leitern und am Ende fĂĽhren gleich fĂĽnf ĂĽber denselben Fluss. Der Teufel, in dem Fall der Spieler, scheiĂźt auf den größten Haufen. Alle anderen können der Elite zumindest den erhobenen Daumen zeigen.”

Jonathan Blow: Making Games in 2019 and Beyond

  • “It’s hard for people to understand what your game will be. […] Look, feedback is good. […] Seeing other people interact with your game can shatter any illusions that you may have. […] On the other hand […] if you release something in early access and it’s far from what it’s going to be, I think most of the feedback will be incorrect.

Mark Brown: The Most Innovative Game of 2019

  • “While making an open-ended puzzle game sounds great, it’s open to easy answers […] so the designer’s job is to actually lock you in and force restrictions on you.”

Rym DeCoster & Scott Rubin: Take Your #@*$ Turn!

  • “If a game is fun, but it takes a long time, it’s not that good. Or at least it has a low fun economy. […] If you can find a game that is a certain amount of fun, but takes like 10 or 20 or 30 minutes to play, that game is probably objectively better as a game, and you should seek those games out. You should reward the games […] that respect you enough to not waste your time.”

Stephen Blessing: The Incan Gold Experiment (GameTek 213.5)

  • “We had an abstract condition, which is devoid of any content or theme. […] The abstracts, regardless if they were playing more risky or more cautious […] scored higher than the other two conditions, and they also took significantly less time playing.”

Spiele des Jahres 2019

December 9, 2019

1. Minion Masters

Im Grunde gehört Minion Masters seit Jahren zu meinen meistgespielten Titeln. Nun ist das Echtzeit-Kartenspiel aber endlich nicht mehr im Early Access und damit auch für meine Top-Liste qualifiziert.

Kurz beschreibe ich es gerne als “Clash Royale in gut”. In Wahrheit ist der Mobile-Hit von Supercell auch kein ganz schlechtes Spiel. Doch “MM” liegt in so ziemlich allen Belangen vorn. Es ist tiefer, flexibler, fairer, enthält deutlich weniger Grind und bietet mit seinen “King of the Hill”-Anleihen auch das wesentlich interessantere Grundsystem.

DarĂĽber hinaus kann man die Entwickler von BetaDwarf kaum genug loben. Sie supporten ihre Spiele grundsätzlich ĂĽber lange Zeit und fĂĽgen entsprechend auch bei Minion Masters seit Beginn der Early-Access-Phase vor 3 Jahren regelmäßig Content hinzu (zuletzt einen vollwertigen “Roguelike”-Modus) und feilen am Balancing. Belohnt wird dies mit einer ĂĽber Jahre hinweg stabilen Spielerschaft. Zurecht!

2. Auto Chess: Origin

Bereits als Mod fĂĽr Dota 2 wies “Auto Chess” ein sehr interessantes Konzept auf, war aber noch ziemlich clunky und fehleranfällig. Doch das Mod-Team von Drodo Studio besserte schnell selbst nach und entwickelte eine Mobile-Umsetzung.

“Origin” stellt meines Erachtens den bislang besten Genre-Vertreter des neu begrĂĽndeten Genres der “Auto Battler” dar. Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Titeln stimmt das Balancing, da auf Monate an Daten durch den Quasi-Betatest mittels der Original-Mod zurĂĽckgegriffen werden konnte. Auch wird das Konzept nicht mit Nebenkriegsschauplätzen ĂĽberladen (wie etwa in Riots Teamfight Tactics). Und Valves eigenes Dota Underlords hat sich mit seinen namensgebenden “Underlords” ohnehin selbst zu Fall gebracht.

Fehlt nur, dass die bislang doch stark vernachlässigte Standalone-PC-Version auf einen brauchbaren Stand gebracht wird…

3. Slay the Spire

Der Roguelike-Deckbuilder, mit dem alles begann. Die Idee, die klassisch-mathematische RPG-Progression (“höhere Stats, mehr Schaden”) durch ein bedeutsameres System zu ersetzen, das die Möglichkeit bietet, sich spontan im Spielverlauf verschiedenste “Builds” zu basteln, ist brilliant.

Ăśber einige Early-Access-Jahre hinweg und dank des unablässigen Supports durch Mega Crit hat sich Slay the Spire zu einem echten Content-Monster gemausert. Dank unzähliger Regel-Modifikatoren gleicht kein Run dem anderen. Die “Ascensions” bieten eine Art Single-Player-Matchmaking und motivieren langfristig.

Durch die grundverschiedenen Charakterklassen (sowie einige clevere Community-Mods) wird beinahe das Maximum aus der Design-Prämisse herausgeholt. Einzig eine Prise Räumlichkeit würde dem Kampfsystem meines Erachtens gut tun. Doch das ist Meckern auf sehr hohem Niveau.

4. The Legend of Bum-Bo

Edmund McMillens neuester Streich präsentiert sich selbst als “Deck-building Roguelike” und damit im Fahrwasser von Slay the Spire. In Wahrheit ist der Isaac- und Meat-Boy-Designer jedoch mit der Idee gestartet, eine strategischere Variante des Kult-Klassikers Puzzle Quest umzusetzen. Dies ist ihm letztlich auch ganz hervorragend gelungen.

Zwar spielt der Zufall etwas zu oft eine zu gewichtige Rolle fĂĽr den Ausgang eines Durchlaufs, allerdings wird so zugleich fĂĽr einen hohen Wiederspielwert gesorgt. Auch die Isaac-Ă„sthetik – hier im Pappe-Look – wird nicht jedem zusagen. Einzigartig ist sie jedoch allemal.

5. Dicey Dungeons

Ein weiteres “Spire-like”, diesmal mit WĂĽrfeln. Terry Cavanagh (Super Hexagon, VVVVVV) gelingt mit seinem ersten kommerziellen Spiel seit 7 Jahren eine umfangreiche und mit Content vollgepackte Exploration des “Roguelike-WĂĽrfler”-Ansatzes.

Während im Karten-Vorbild dank mehr Kontrolle ĂĽber die eigenen Fähigkeiten und rotierendem Kartendeck alles etwas zuverlässiger und planbarer ist, wird hier eher auf die groĂźen “Heureka”-Momente gesetzt, die durch die “Limit-Break”-Mechanik teils regelrecht forciert werden. Das macht SpaĂź, verbraucht sich aber auch vergleichsweise schneller.

Weitere Highlights

Card of Darkness

Militia 2

Nowhere Prophet

P1 Select

Void Bastards


Ludomedia #69

November 4, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


David Stark: Why I Made A Game That Isn’t Fun

  • “Pay to skip the wait. Pay to remove the limit. Pay to get a boost, skip the ads, make the numbers go up faster. Sandstorm is a game that was sparked by a conversation about the intentionality of these kind of mechanics, and the idea that a game could be purposefully unfun.”

Hamish Black: John Wick Hex and the Problems of Adaptation

  • “You can see what they were going for, but in practice [John Wick] Hex ends up being too inconsistent to be a puzzler and too rigid to be an action game. It just lies awkwardly in the middle.”

Jim Sterling: Are Automated Bots A Deceptive Con?

  • “If you don’t know that it’s all pretend times, you think you’re winning. And if you think you’re winning you’ll feel encouraged to keep playing. […] And the more you play, the more you’re entrenched in that game’s economy. And the more entrenched in the economy you are, the more tempted you may be to spend cash on it.”

Neo Magazin Royale: Coin Master – Abzocke mit Fun

  • “Simuliertes GlĂĽcksspiel birgt einige Gefahren: Zum einen wird durch Normalisierungstendenzen eine positive Einstellung gegenĂĽber GlĂĽcksspiel begĂĽnstigt. […] In letzter Konsequenz schĂĽrt dies den Wunsch auch mal um echtes Geld zu ‘zocken’. Junge Spieler sind dafĂĽr besonders anfällig.”

Razbuten: What Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games

  • “Watching [my wife] work through this early section [of Hollow Knight] and seeing the different ways that she viewed the game got me thinking a lot about the language of video games, and just how much a person’s level of video game literacy affects their experience with any given title. […] So I decided to run an informal experiment…”

10 Jahre Zockwork Orange

October 30, 2019

10 Jahre gibt es bereits das famose Zockwork Orange, davon gut zwei mit mir. Zum Jubiläum gab es nun eine Artikelreihe, in der die Redaktion auf ihre jeweiligen Jahreshighlights der letzten Dekade zurückblickt.

Das hier sind meine “Picks”!

Read the rest of this entry »


Crimson Company: “The Other Side”

October 29, 2019

Ein kurzer Hinweis: Crimson Company ist mit seiner ersten Erweiterung “The Other Side” zurĂĽck auf Kickstarter! FĂĽr neue Spieler bieten wir auch ein Bundle inklusive Deluxe Edition an.

Für jedwede Unterstützung (sei es direkt auf Kickstarter, in Form von Likes und Shares auf Social Media oder einfach per Mundpropaganda) sind wir wie immer sehr dankbar! ❤️

Mehr zu den UrsprĂĽngen der Spielidee gab es ĂĽbrigens vor etwa einem Jahr in einem Artikel zu lesen.


Ludomedia #68

September 23, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Mark Brown: Space Invaders | Design Icons

  • “While [Space Invaders] was far from the first ever video game, it made a number of incredibly important contributions to the field of game design that would fundamentally change how games were made. From high scores, to destructible cover, to adaptive soundtracks, to the entire shoot-em-up genre, and that oh-so-important difficulty curve.”

Doc Burford: i don’t think i like prestige games

  • “I’d say that prestige games are expensive AAA-type games that imitate better art without really understanding or improving upon them in any way, often using fairly boilerplate mechanics to accomplish this. […] With a lot of these prestige games, the mechanics seem to be there because the designers needed to put some mechanics in to justify telling this story as a game.”

Jim Sterling: How Game Companies Abuse Passion

  • “If there’s one thing a corporation loves to do, it’s to make people feel like they’re choosing to participate in their own oppression. It’s a classic manipulation tactic. […] In short, passion has become a bullshit word used in place of compensation or fair treatment.”

Joel Goodwin: Go the Distance

  • “The beautiful thing about roguelikes is how they force you to overdose on system analysis. What variables you can control, what variables you can predict and what variables are out for your blood. And, boy, Speed Run sent me down a lava-scarred rabbit hole of Hoplite’s systems.”

Keith Burgun: Why it’s important that we push back on Auto Chess being a “genre”

  • “We get some super successful game, and then everyone is ape-ing that for a decade instead of just stepping back and thinking about interactivity in a more broad sense (which is totally possible and works, as demonstrated year after year by board game designers).”

Ludomedia #67

August 28, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Adam Millard: Why We’re Wrong About Violence In Games

  • “We need to be able to distinguish aesthetic from how we approach and engage with games […] I’d argue that instead of judging games by whether they have bloodshed or not, we should instead judge them by what kind of player experience they’re creating.”

Extra Credits: Diegetic UI – Realistic, or Distracting?

  • “Some information, it seems, is just better represented by a bar or number on screen, or even a menu list. This is because the purpose of UI is to show critical information to the player. So displaying that information in the most straightforward way is generally better. […] Good UI should be legible first, stylized second.”

Jim Sterling: The Political Agenda Of Dark Souls

  • “Dark Souls explores the idea of perpetuating cycles to keep a status quo upheld while the ruling class cling to their stale thrones. A ruling class that has convinced those lower on the social rungs to vote against their own interests and belief things that actively keep them under the elite’s boot heels.”

Mark Brown: The Best Games from GMTK Game Jam 2019

  • “This year the theme was ‘Only One’ which encouraged designers to make games with only one bullet, or only one room, or only one button. […] I want to send the jam off by showing the 20 games that I think are most deserving of note and attention.”

Mark Brown: Why Does Celeste Feel So Good To Play?

  • “[Celeste] shows the importance of getting the curves right when building basic movement, adding mechanics that introduce very different ways to navigate the space, using feedback to emphasize movement, being forgiving about pixel precision, increasing the skill ceiling with advanced movement and not being afraid to test, tweak and toss away work throughout the lengthy process of getting this stuff right.”

Ludomedia #66

July 24, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Adam Millard: Engineering The Perfect Enemy

  • “Having enemies with a clear, focussed design is a great foundation upon which to build an iconic bad guy, but it’s not enough. A great enemy also needs to fit into the wider ecosystem of play, whether that’s working alongside other enemies, the environment, or even the player. In other words: A good enemy is synergistic.”

George Weidman: Media Literacy and Game News

  • “Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms. […] But media literacy also requires an understanding of not just the standards and ethics that serious journalists should themselves accountable to, but also the sinister effects that money and cognitive bias have on it.”

Jim Sterling: The Exploitative Push For Social Networking In Games

  • “We’re in an age where kids at school are being bullied for not having any premium skins in Fortnite. […] Social gaming has its place, but its mass adoption by the AAA game industry is a fucking scam, a long con, yet another way […] in which video game publishers plan to swindle, trick and seduce cash out of you.”

Jonathan Blow: Singapore Games Guild Keynote

  • “Don’t even entertain ideas like ‘extending the playtime’, because it’ll make your game really boring. […] You really just want your game to have enough material in it to be interesting enough to last a long time. […] You want to actually have so much material that you then cut the worst material and leave the best material. That’s how the average value of your game goes up.”

Mark Brown: Can We Make Talking as Much Fun as Shooting?

  • “We can make dialogue trees that aren’t just basic skill checks that let you skip through gameplay, but involved negotiations that become exciting gameplay in of themselves, where you’re gathering evidence and intel, reading social cues and body language, and manipulating a web of relationships to get your way.”