When variety trumps quality

When designers first learn discipline, there’s a tendency to cut anything that isn’t the strongest gameplay experience. That gets you 90% of the way there. However, it’s possible to throw the baby’s rubber ducky out with the bath water while keeping the baby herself. In small doses, variety trumps quality. Try eating your favorite food […]

Think about the feeling, not the text

Often a designer will create content that seems to literally represent their theme when you read it, but creates a feeling that is the opposite of the intent. My favorite example of this is the board game Relic. In this game, you can play a variety of characters. There is also a mechanic called “corruption […]

The Surprising Danger of Interesting Decisions

I was recently asked to elaborate on the difference between an “interesting” decision and a “satisfying” decision, which I mentioned briefly in my previous post on designing for satisfaction. Dear reader, thy will be done. First to clarify: I’m only talking about design goals. You design differently when you try to maximize how interesting a […]

Everything is Contextual

If you’re a student of game design, literal or otherwise, you’re going to run into a lot of seemingly contradictory advice from equally smart and successful people with proven track records of great design. How do you go about resolving this? Who’s right? What’s the true path? The answer? Often… Both people are right. Everything is […]

Designing your own Muse

Inspiration is like opportunity. Most people wait for it, but it also helps to work hard to make your own with whatever you’ve got to work with. I’ve mentioned before that I do more work refining the design of my creative process than any individual project I’ve worked on, and it’s paid big dividends. One […]

Satisfying is better than “Fun”

“Fun” is a vague, elusive, concept and often trips up new designers trying to define their goals. In 90% of cases, you can replace the concept of designing for “fun” with designing for “satisfying”. What makes Fruit Ninja fun? Hard to say. What makes it satisfying? The audio and visual delight of slicing into the […]

Don’t start believing

Think back to your ideas from 5 years ago. Did you have any that you now think are wrong? I know I do. In the next five years I expect to say the same again. Game design is complicated. No matter how good you are, you’re going to be wrong a lot. If you weren’t, […]

But how does it feel?

The boardgame Relic is based on Warhammer 40k characters questing through space. In that setting, there are dark bargains you can make with the forces of chaos. It’s a constant temptation, and many characters struggle against it constantly. Those that succumb often become incredibly powerful, but lose themselves to the monstrous forces. Relic pays homage […]