Ludomedia #77

October 20, 2020


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Mark Brown: Are Lives Outdated Game Design?

  • “So are lives outdated?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


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


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.”

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.”

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.”


August 12, 2013


Game Design Theory

Teilnehmer: Keith Burgun (Dinofarm Games) und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Im Vordergrund stehen Spiele als Entscheidungs-Wettbewerbe und die unĂŒblichen, jedoch enorm bereichernden, Ansichten und Philosophien der Dinofarm-Games-Crew. Dazu werden immer wieder interessante GĂ€ste eingeladen, die hĂ€ufig auch eine Gegenposition zu diesen spezifischen Ideen einnehmen. Hier eine nĂŒtzliche EinfĂŒhrung in die Philosophie im Allgemeinen.

Zielgruppe: Aufgeschlossene Spieler und Spiele-Designer, denen bewusst ist, dass Fortschritt manchmal zunĂ€chst ein gewisses Maß an Zerstörung erfordert.


Teilnehmer: Geoff Engelstein und Ryan Sturm (und selten GĂ€ste).

Inhalt: Designer Geoff Engelstein (Space Cadets) und Regel-Guru Ryan Sturm (How To Play Podcast) diskutieren in erster Linie spezifische Design-Bausteine im Detail und hĂ€ufig auch die psychologische Komponente dahinter. Zudem werden hin und wieder spezifische Spiele betrachtet oder gar “on air” designt.

Zielgruppe: Brettspiel-Enthusiasten und -Designer.

Roguelike Radio

Teilnehmer: Darren Grey, Andrew Doull und (teils wiederkehrende) GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Der Pflicht-Podcast fĂŒr alle Roguelike-Fans. Genre-Veteranen diskutieren Design-Ideen, kontroverse Definitionen und hĂ€ufig auch spezifische Spiele im Detail. Zudem sind immer wieder Entwickler bzw. Designer zu Gast, die interessante Einblicke “hinter die Kulissen” zulassen.

Zielgruppe: Roguelike-Interessierte und Game-Designer im Allgemeinen.

The Game Design Round Table

Teilnehmer: Jon Shafer und Dirk Knemeyer (und manchmal GĂ€ste).

Inhalt: Brettspiel-Designer Dirk Knemeyer diskutiert mit dem kreativen Kopf hinter Civilization 5, Jon Shafer, Game-Design aus allen erdenklichen Perspektiven. Tiefgreifende und informative Diskussionen spezifischer Themen sind an der Tagesordnung. Zudem informieren die beiden Hosts regelmĂ€ĂŸig ĂŒber den Fortschritt ihrer aktuellen Projekte. Hin und wieder gesellen sich zudem hochinteressante GĂ€ste (in aller Regel natĂŒrlich selbst Spiele-Designer) hinzu.

Zielgruppe: In erster Linie Game-Designer, aber auch Spieler, die auf theoretischer Ebene tiefer in die Materie einsteigen wollen.


Board Game University

Teilnehmer: Tom Vasel und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Von Brettspiel-Guru Tom Vasel (The Dice Tower) gefĂŒhrte Interviews mit Designern, Publishern und sonstigen GrĂ¶ĂŸen aus der Spieleindustrie.

Zielgruppe: Alle ĂŒber das Spielen an sich hinaus Interessierten.

Brainy Gamer Podcast

Teilnehmer: Michael Abbott und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: HĂ€ufig durchaus tiefgreifende Diskussionen mit variierender Design-Relevanz rund um die Welt der Videospiele.

Zielgruppe: In erster Linie Spieler, die nicht bloß konsumieren wollen.

Game Design Advance

Teilnehmer: Charles J. Pratt und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Unterschiedlich interessante Interviews in entspannter AtmosphÀre mit zahlreichen Game-Designern aus New York und Umgebung.

Zielgruppe: Game-Designer.

Game Design Bookclub

Teilnehmer: David Koontz und zahlreiche GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Eine Gruppe Game-Designer aus Phoenix und Umgebung diskutieren breit gefĂ€chert und ausschweifend. In den ersten Episoden wurde unter anderem Keith Burguns Philosophie im Detail betrachtet und dabei nicht mal mit der hĂ€ufig zu beobachtenden reflexartigen Ablehnung gestraft. Das spricht schonmal fĂŒr hörenswertes Potenzial!

Zielgruppe: Vor allem Game-Designer.

Games With Garfield

Teilnehmer: Richard Garfield und Co.

Inhalt: Die lebende Legende Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering) greift diverse Themen rund um Brett- und Videospiele auf. Leider erscheinen die Episoden sehr unregelmĂ€ĂŸig und jetzt schon lĂ€ngere Zeit gar nicht mehr. Im Archiv sollten sich aber einige interessante Folgen finden lassen.

Zielgruppe: Game-Designer.

On Board Games

Teilnehmer: Donald Dennis, Erik Dewey und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: Pro Episode wird ein Thema im Detail erörtert, wobei es sich dabei nicht immer um Design-relevante Sachverhalte handelt. So werden gegebenenfalls beispielsweise auch Vertreter aus Industrie und Marketing eingeladen, um mit den Brettspiel-Veteranen Dennis und Dewey zu diskutieren. Daneben gibt es in jeder Episode auch noch eine Handvoll Brettspiel-Reviews.

Zielgruppe: Brettspieler und Game-Designer.

Plaid Hat Games Podcast

Teilnehmer: Das Team von Plaid Hat Games (und manchmal GĂ€ste).

Inhalt: Die Plaid-Hat-Crew (Summoner Wars) diskutiert verschiedenste brettspielrelevante Themen. Nicht immer steht dabei das Design im Vordergrund und hÀufig gleiten die GesprÀche eher in die humoristische Richtung ab. Je nach Theme sind die Episoden zum Teil dennoch sehr hörenswert.

Zielgruppe: Game-Designer und Plaid-Hat-Fans.

The Game Developers Radio

Teilnehmer: Joseph Burchett, Devin Becker und Andy Moore.

Inhalt: KĂŒrzlich wiederbelebter Podcast, der in der Regel auf Design-Theorie fokussiert ist, jedoch auch darĂŒber hinausgehende Themen mit Relevanz fĂŒr die Spieleentwicklung im Allgemeinen aufgreift.

Zielgruppe: Interessierte Spieler sowie Spiele-Entwickler und -Designer.

Three Moves Ahead

Teilnehmer: Troy Goodfellow, Rob Zacny und GĂ€ste.

Inhalt: In der Regel wird pro Episode ein aktuelles Strategiespiel im Detail beleuchtet. Dabei steht mal mehr und mal weniger das Design an sich im Vordergrund.

Zielgruppe: Strategiespieler und Game-Designer.

Weitere Empfehlungen? Kommentieren!

Brett-“Spiel” und Video-“Erfahrung”

May 7, 2013


Wie gesagt: Ein Spiel ist in erster Linie ein System von Regeln. Spiele sind zum (immer wieder erneuten) Spielen gedacht. Eine hohe Wiederspielbarkeit wird bei den besseren Gattungsvertretern dabei entweder durch den geschickten Einsatz von “Input Randomness” (Zufallsfaktoren beim Aufbau bzw. Setup des Spiels) erreicht (z.B. Ascension) oder schlicht durch einen ausreichend großen und interessanten Entscheidungsraum (d.h. es gibt nicht oder zumindest nicht offensichtlich die beste Aktion), der in jeder Partie aufs Neue kreatives Vorgehen forciert oder sogar erfordert (z.B. Puerto Rico). HĂ€ufig wird natĂŒrlich auch eine Kombination der beiden eingesetzt (z.B. Eclipse, Pandemic, Small World). DarĂŒber hinaus darf selbstverstĂ€ndlich der Mehrspieleraspekt nicht vergessen werden, allerdings gilt das Beschriebene genauso fĂŒr Solitaire- (z.B. Phantom Leader) oder sogenannte “Multiplayer-Solitaire”-Spiele (z.B. Dominion).

Wie die gewĂ€hlten Beispiele schon andeuten: Die klassischen Eigenschaften eines Spiels sind heutzutage insbesondere bei Brettspielen zu finden. Diese sind ihrer Natur nach auf die reine Spielmechanik fokussiert und versuchen, durch eine spezifische Komposition der Gameplay-Komponenten ein robustes System zu erschaffen, das möglichst mit einer Spieltiefe ausgestattet ist, die es lohnenswert macht, dieses System ĂŒber sehr viele Partien – im Idealfall ĂŒber Jahre – hinweg zu ergrĂŒnden. Genau dies ist die hohe Kunst des “Gamedesigns“.

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