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Mark Brown: Are Lives Outdated Game Design?

  • “So are lives outdated?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.”

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. Bjþrkelo: “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.”

Ludomedia #75

July 27, 2020

Ludomedia

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 itch.io’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

Ludomedia

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 itch.io 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

Ludomedia

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 itch.io!

April 14, 2020

Ein weiteres Nebenprojekt meinerseits gibt es ab sofort auf itch.io 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.

Features:

  • 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

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.”