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.”

BelohnungsmĂĽdigkeit und korrumpierte Motivation

February 18, 2020

Ich halte Minion Masters für ein fantastisches Spiel. Aber nach ein paar Monaten oder teils auch nur Wochen wieder ins Spiel zurückzukehren, stellt für mich eine beträchtliche Herausforderung dar. Nicht etwa, weil ich vergessen hätte, wie das Spiel funktioniert, sondern weil es mich vom Spielen abhält.

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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?”

“Insta-Tournaments”: Multiplayer-Solitaire?

January 18, 2020

In der Community seinerzeit gefeiert, doch von Spieleentwicklern allem Anschein nach weitgehend unbemerkt, erfand Zach Gage fĂĽr Pocket-Run Pool im Jahre 2018 einen ganz besonderen Spielmodus.

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Podcast: Indie Board Game Designers

December 24, 2019

Im Rahmen unserer Kickstarter-Kampagne zur ersten Erweiterung für Crimson Company war ich vor einer Weile zu Gast im famosen Indie-Brettspiel-Podcast von Patrick Rauland. Unser Gespräch gibt es nun hier nachzuhören. Viel Spaß dabei!

Ludomedia #70

December 16, 2019


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.”

Ludomedia #69

November 4, 2019


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…”

Heilsbringer “Battle Pass”?

October 18, 2019

Etwa eine Woche vor Release von Call of Duty: Modern Warfare hat Activison angekündigt, dass es im Spiel keine Lootboxen geben wird. Stattdessen soll auf einen “Battle Pass” à la Fortnite gesetzt werden. Natürlich kostet der Zugang zum Spiel selbst je nach Edition bereits zwischen 60 und 100 Euro. Somit fällt es in die von Jim Sterling geprägte Kategorie des “Fee to Pay”Spieler bezahlen initial Eintritt, um dann für weitere Inhalte bezahlen zu dürfen. Doch davon mal abgesehen: Ist das Modell Battle Pass an und für sich völlig unbedenklich?

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Planbarkeit und (Vor-)Spiel-Entscheidungen

October 11, 2019

Die Möglichkeit zur Vorausplanung der eigenen Aktionen ist ein zentrales Element, auf dem die Faszination vieler Spiele basiert. Thomas Grip von Frictional Games bezeichnet sie sogar als Hauptgrund dafür, dass sich Gameplay gut anfühlt. Einleuchtend ist das spätestens beim Blick auf die Alternative. Ein Spiel ohne jede Planbarkeit versinkt zwangsläufig im Zufallschaos. Statt interessanter Entscheidungen stellen sich Gefühle der Machtlosigkeit und Apathie ein. Wozu handeln, wenn ich ohnehin keine Ahnung habe, wohin es führt?

Doch wie so oft ist das andere Extrem kaum weniger problematisch. Ein absolut vorhersehbares System bietet, sobald der perfekte Plan gefunden ist, ebenfalls keine echten Entscheidungen mehr. Das Gameplay gleicht dann eher einem – bestenfalls möglichst effizienten – Abarbeiten des im Vorhinein berechneten “richtigen Weges”.

Es ist ein Balanceakt. Im Idealfall schmieden Spieler permanent Pläne, werden bei deren AusfĂĽhrung jedoch regelmäßig durch behutsam eingesetzte, unvorhergesehene Elemente gestört und so zur Anpassung und Neuplanung gebracht. In diesem Wechselspiel aus Planbarkeit und “WillkĂĽr” bleibt ein System dauerhaft interessant.

Nun gibt es Spiele, die sich in eine Planungs- und eine Ausführungsphase aufteilen lassen. Entscheidungen werden dabei in der Regel in beiden getroffen, sind jedoch gänzlich unterschiedlicher Natur. Diese Form der Aufspaltung samt potenzieller Vor- und Nachteile, je nach erwünschter Spielerfahrung, soll im Folgenden diskutiert werden.

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Ludomedia #68

September 23, 2019


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).”