Lewis Pulsipher's Expert Blogs
Almost always, when I talk with groups of people about game design, I quote Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery:"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." How do we achieve this?
Why would it bother anyone that a game is too hard for them to play? The notion that it's "wrong" to make a game "too challenging" is another instance of Rampant Egalitarianism, trying to make everyone conform to the lowest common denominator.
Harmony and its opposite, the kludge, are fundamental to good game design. Games that lack harmony or have in-harmonious aspects have a handicap, though some succeed. Fortunately, most of the in-harmonious games are never published, or only self published
Many aspiring designers, and some who ought to have enough experience to know better, design by trial and error (guess and check) rather than by using an efficient method related to engineering and science. I illustrate this and try to explain why.
Computer RPGs (especially MMOs) appear to be a "grind" aimed at rising in level. People don't enjoy the journey, they only enjoy the destination ("I'm 80th level!"). That's why there's a big market for sale of items and gold and even entire accounts.
Party games, and to a lesser extent family games, have always been reward-based (you're rewarded for participation) rather than consequence-based (winning and losing is important, plus more), but hobby games were usually the latter. Not any more.
What is the "natural" format of a game? You can program a boardgame on a computer, or vice versa, but the physical format difference is more cosmetic than real. A man dressed as a woman is still a man, a boardgame on a computer is still a boardgame.
Creativity in game design may amount to about 10% of the whole. The rest is more or less engineering/project management. Some people rely on trial & error (guess & check), throwing things against a wall to see what sticks. Find a more efficient method!
Author Robert Heinlein says this about the nature of jokes: "Funny once, funny twice, or always funny." Games follow this pattern. E.g. I know people who have played my Britannia 500+ times. Which kind of game do you want to make?
I don’t use the word “theme” any more, because there are so many different meanings. These meanings are not even close to the same things. If you cannot know how your reader/listener understands a word, you can’t use it (if you want to be clear).
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