Ludomedia #75

July 27, 2020


Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.

Adam Millard: What Makes a Great Deckbuilder?

  • “Deckbuilders are fantastic at stimulating our creativity […] I think I’ve managed to come up with a set of three criteria that I think all well-designed deckbuilder card pools fall into: The cards need to enable synergies, they need to create interesting decisions as part of longer-term strategies, and they all need to have distinct identities.”

Alan Zucconi: The AI of “Creatures”

  • “Creatures was designed around the very concepts of empathy and nurturing, making it the closest experience possible to having a pet. To this date it was, and still is, an experience unmatched by any other game. But how could a game that is almost 25 years old succeed where even modern games are struggling?”

Jonathan Blow: Video Games and the Future of Education

  • “I think that one of the things that games can do is help you develop systems thinking. […] Systems literacy is becoming something of an emergency, it’s important in a way that it’s never been in the past. We need to develop systems literacy society-wide, we need to train people in systems thinking. And the way to do that is by engaging with systems.”

Mark Brown: The Best Games from GMTK Game Jam 2020

  • “Again, it was the biggest jam in’s history, but this year’s event was, by my numbers, the biggest online-only jam to ever be held. […] These are my 20 favorite games from the GMTK Game Jam 2020, in no particular order.”

Riad Djemili: The complete sales history of modest indie hit game Curious Expedition

  • “The first commercial version of Curious Expedition was released at the end of 2014. In this blog post I will give you the complete overview of all the sales numbers of these first six years. How many units we sold, when we sold them, in which territories, on which platforms. I will also tell how it felt to tank with our game and how we were able to eventually turn it into a bigger success than we ever imagined.”

“Videospiele sind zu lang”: Symptome eines viel grundsĂ€tzlicheren Problems

June 29, 2020

Shawn Layden, ehemaliger PlayStation-Chef bei Sony, hat – diesmal am Beispiel The Last of Us Part II mal wieder die gute alte Debatte der “zu langen” Spiele losgetreten. WĂ€hrend er dabei vor allem aus Sicht der Tragbarkeit immer weiter ausufernder AAA-Entwicklungen argumentiert, entstanden auf den sozialen KanĂ€len allerlei hitzige Diskussionen (unter anderem unter Jason Schreiers provokanter Zuspitzung in Tweet-Form) um “Unterhaltungswert pro Euro”, kurze “interaktive Erfahrungen”, den Sinn und Unsinn von Grinding und diverse andere angrenzende Themen.

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Ludomedia #74

June 5, 2020


Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.

Jon Ingold: Dreaming Spires: Dynamic Narrative, Layer by Layer

  • “Is it possible to make the entire narrative out of contextual dialogue? Instead of tying the conversation engine to something rigid, like an adventure game world, we’ve tied it instead to a procedurally-generated Chess-like strategy game. Boards, moves, pieces… and combinatorial explosion. “

Keith Burgun: Why “quarterbacking” isn’t a problem in cooperative games

  • “Whenever there is quarterbacking, the actual problem is that there is a large skill imbalance between the players. This is a problem in all multi-player games, not just in cooperative games, though. […] If you have a group that you want to play Pandemic with, you have to try and make sure that all the players have played a similar amount, same as how if you want to really get into Chess it’s best if you have a partner who is somewhere near your level. In short, I don’t think this is a “game design” problem.”

Mark Brown: School of Stealth

  • “These are games where your power doesn’t come through sheer brute force, but only through your ability to hide from the enemy. So having your sneaky status be fragile and fuzzy reminds you that you’re always at risk of losing your tenuous advantage over the enemy. […] But making the system completely obvious has its own advantages. It puts way more power in your hands and allows you to play with a huge amount of confidence.”

Tommy Thompson: The Story of Facade: The AI-Powered Interactive Drama

  • “The player is secretly playing along in several of what are known as ‘social games’. These social games are specific phases of Facade where based upon your interactions, they can influence Grace and Trip’s feelings on a particular subject matter, their self-awareness about their underlying problems and their affinity towards the player. Every provocation, criticism or praise found within the natural language typed in from the keyboard will nudge the characters feelings on each subject.”

Zach Gage: Humans Who Make Games (Interview)

  • “Games are ways to learn and enjoy the skill of critical thinking, and I think a lot of adults don’t do a lot of critical thinking. […] One style of solving a problem is basically a pattern-matching style. […] But there’s this other way of teaching, which is teaching people how to be good problem solvers. […] If you can do problem solving well, you can learn anything.”

Monster Train: Roguelike-Deckbuilder 2.0

June 3, 2020

Vor Kurzem ist Monster Train aus dem Hause Shiny Shoe sehr erfolgreich auf Steam gestartet. Der Roguelike-Deckbuilder hat bereits ĂŒber 3000 Bewertungen (im Schnitt “ĂŒberwĂ€ltigend positiv”) eingeheimst und wurde auch von vielen Streamern und YouTubern (u.a. Northernlion und Rhapsody) begeistert in ihren Content-Zyklus aufgenommen.

Das große Vorbild ist dabei eindeutig der moderne Klassiker und Genre-MitbegrĂŒnder Slay the Spire. Doch profitiert der Monsterzug nun lediglich vom Hype und “Cult of the New” oder lassen sich tatsĂ€chlich Verbesserungen im Game-Design ausmachen?

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Zu Gast im Clockwork Game Design Podcast!

May 28, 2020

Ich hatte die Ehre, im aktuell wohl besten Game-Design-Podcast zu gastieren!

In der neuen Episode von Keith Burguns Clockwork Game Design Podcast sprechen wir ĂŒber Game-Design-Theorie, Crimson Company (sowie die aktuell laufenden Kickstarter-Kampagne), die Unterschiede zwischen Brett- und Videospielen sowie diverse andere Game-Design- und Industrie-Themen.

“On today’s show, we have an interview with designer and theorist Fabian Fischer. Fabian is the designer behind Crimson Company, which is now running its fourth Kickstarter, which is currently doing incredibly well—at the time of this writing, it has over $33,000 pledged (and they were only asking or $11,000)! On the show, we discuss the difference between designing for digital vs physical, what game design theory needs to go forward, some thoughts about pre-game decisions, and a bunch more. Fabian (who folks over at our Discord may know as Nachtfischer) writes articles on game design theory, which you should absolutely check out, like this article on Insta-Tournaments, or this article on pre-game decisions (which we also talk about on the show). He also compiles a bunch of game design theory together into a “game design news” series he does called Ludomedia. He also does really cool smaller digital games which you should definitely check out here on his page. As you can see, this guy does not mess around! I am glad we got him on the show, and I think the conversation went really well, as expected.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to check out Fabian’s Kickstarter, while it’s still live!”


Ludomedia #73

April 15, 2020


Games media worth reading, watching or listening to.

Derek Yu: Death Loops

  • “Generally, the choice is between more polish, more ambitious game design, or shorter development time, and how much of each you can choose depends on your experience level and your available resources. […] One of the biggest strengths of indie devs is our freedom, which allows us to work in our own way, to make decisions swiftly, and to make bold choices that AAA studios might not be able to. It’s the lone wolf approach versus the large army approach. Unfortunately, it also means that we can be free to spin our wheels with very little accountability.

Jim Sterling: XP Boosters Are Some Sinister Bullshit

  • “I expect boosters to become more this decade and coming console generation. I think it’ll be the new popular way of capitalizing on the concept of monetized grind, especially with the growing popularity of battle passes and the sense of slow teasing progression they ferment.”

Keith Burgun: A discussion about “structure” in strategy game design

  • “Structure exists in the rules of the game when they have high interconnectivity or high ‘coupling’. […] Because these rules are a holistic part of the game […] they have a multiplying effect on the system’s potential depth. Componential rules, or low-structure systemic rules […], have something more like an additive effect, by contrast.”

Mark Brown: Anatomy of a DOOM Eternal Fight

  • “So getting through […] any combat encounter […] means finding answers to four key questions. You might want to think of these as priority, preference, preservation and position – or the four Ps. All four Ps must be considered simultaneously and constantly re-evaluated as new information arises, like running out of ammo or seeing new enemies spawn in.”

Tom Francis: Consider Giving Up

  • “‘Never give up’ is really bad advice, especially for newcomers. We’re very quick to romanticize dedication, and we’re quick to look at folks who already released successful games and say ‘Look at them! They didn’t give up!’ […] There are ideas out there that give you something back when you work on them, but you need to explore to find them. You can’t explore if you never give up on the first path you picked.”

Spacewalk Empire auf!

April 14, 2020

Ein weiteres Nebenprojekt meinerseits gibt es ab sofort auf zum Download! Spacewalk Empire verbindet Elemente aus Echtzeit- und Rundenstrategie. Es kommt auf zĂŒgiges Entscheiden und gutes Timing an, ohne dass sich das Gameplay in allzu viel Mikromanagement verliert.


  • Unique mix of turn-based & real-time strategy! Think on your feet and time your moves, but don’t fiddle with unit micro-management.
  • Random generation! Face a new level layout each match. Enemies spawn in random locations. You’ll never face the same challenge twice.
  • Single-player ladder! The level of challenge will adjust to how well you’re doing. What rank can you reach?
  • Exploding barrels! Because every good video game needs them. Also, screen shake.

Ludomedia #72

March 2, 2020


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.”

BelohnungsmĂŒdigkeit und korrumpierte Motivation

February 18, 2020

Ich halte Minion Masters fĂŒr ein fantastisches Spiel. Aber nach ein paar Monaten oder teils auch nur Wochen wieder ins Spiel zurĂŒckzukehren, stellt fĂŒr mich eine betrĂ€chtliche Herausforderung dar. Nicht etwa, weil ich vergessen hĂ€tte, wie das Spiel funktioniert, sondern weil es mich vom Spielen abhĂ€lt.

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Ludomedia #71

January 28, 2020


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?”