Users come in all shapes and sizes; some tall, some short, some seated. Since the user interacts in a room-scale VR space with a realistic approximation of their body, the physical dimensions of both the space and the user matter. Depending on the design of the space and the dimensions/limitations of that user, they may not be able to interact with the space in an ideal fashion, if at all.
Accessibility in VR: Head Height, first in a continuing series of articles.
Accessibility in VR: Head Height, first in a continuing series of articles.
Maybe people have changed, and today we want different things from games than the ancient Egyptians wanted from Senet. Maybe they found the shuffling rhythms of the game of passing to be thrilling, or at least true: the smallness of human life captured against the unchanging vastness of the landscape of the gods.
Steve Meretzky has released a treasure trove of (minimally redacted) Infocom working documents. Written from 1981 to 1987, these internal documents were instrumental to Jason Scott when producing his documentary GET LAMP and have now been released on the Internet Archive. They include business memos, playtester notes, design documents, mockups by their packaging designer, and a tantalizing look into the elements of games that got cut or never fully developed. Stanford University has the originals.
You might know that mefites are making levels in Super Mario Maker. But in a shocking twist, so are game developers! Every Wednesday for the past ten weeks, Polygon has been recording a different designer putting together, commenting on, and playing through an all-new level in their video series “Devs Make Mario”. (YouTube playlist) List of episodes within. [more inside]
RockPaperShotgun asks the British game industry how they would make a game out of The Great British Bake Off.
Here is Justin Alexander's "Jaquaying the Dungeon," a crash course in old-school D&D adventure complex design, for all you grognards out there.
- 1.Definition - Jennell Jaquays wrote many classic RPG adventures for a variety of systems and publishers, notable for their non-linearity.
- 2.Techniques - On non-linear dungeon construction.
- 3.Philosophy - Why do non-linear dungeons matter, how to make good use of it.
- 4. Applied to Keep on the Shadowfell - Jaquaying a typical linear dungeon module.
- 5. General application - Othter ways Shadowfell could have been improved, summation.
- 6.Ways to connect dungeon levels - An appendix of ways to connect dungeon levels to each other.
- 7.Tips and Tricks - Tricky ideas to delight/annoy players.
- Justin Alexander's Gamemastery 101 is further loaded with good GMing advice.
From Software left fantasy for horror, and the results are mind-blowing. More detailed analysis and spoilers below the jump. WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE GAME BLOODBORNE. IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THIS YET AND WOULD LIKE TO, IT SPOILS SOME COOL REVEALS LATER IN THE GAME! LIKE EVEN MOUSING OVER URLS COULD SPOIL STUFF - BE WARNED. [more inside]
As Bethesda is gearing up for the release of a new game in the Fallout franchise, Shamus Young of Twenty Sided considers the writing in Fallout 3. In a five part series, Shamus details the "blistering stupidity" of the concept, the world, the protagonists, the antagonists, and the conclusion. Young has been featured previously on the blue talking about both Skyrim and Star Trek.
Renowned independent game designer (and landscaper-turned-amateur-lawyer) Jason Rohrer launches his twelfth game, an occult themed online strategy game played for real money, Cordial Minuet. (CM previously, Jason previously, Jason's games previously) [more inside]
The brainchild of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team at From Software, the Souls games have gained a rabid cult following over the past few years. The newest spiritual successor Bloodborne (trailer 1, 2) has been out for a couple weeks now, and it's received stellar reviews across the board. It might very well be the best in the series, reconfiguring the dense gameplay in surprising ways and offering up an intricately-realized Victorian gothic world. Tim Rogers has written a lengthy, articulate, spoiler-free (in a narrative sense) analysis of Bloodborne's design - You Are the Experience Points. [more inside]
“On the other hand, I see advantages to having a smaller team, a smaller, more conceptual project. Why do I say that? I get down to the details when it comes to direction — the story, the art and everything. I’m a pretty anal person. I tinker with every little thing. In five or 10 years, my guys aren’t going to want to work with me. At that point, maybe it will be smarter for me to work on my own little idea.” Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of the Souls series of games, talks to the LA Times about his philosophy of design, and his future in games. The article references his upcoming project, a spiritual successor of the Souls series, Bloodborne. [more inside]
Daniel Cook: the top 5 game design debates I ignored in 2014
- The correct definition of ‘game’
- Narrative vs Mechanics
- Randomness vs Skill
- The importance of realism
- Casual vs Hardcore
Reversing the Design: The Two Games of Chrono Trigger is an essay that examines the way that Chrono Trigger tells a story in two parts to the player using every aspect of the game's design. Aside from analyzing the game story itself, the authors also look at things like weapon power, player agency, quest design, graphics, dungeon layouts, boss scripting, and the battle system. The essay concludes with a list of design considerations that can be applied from Chrono Trigger to games of all genres.
Maddy Myers of Paste magazine connects the influence of the film Alien on the game Metroid and looks at how subsequent imitators have failed to live up to the promise of Metroid's original design. 'Troid Rage: Why Game Devs Should Watch Alien—and Play Metroid—Again
At the 2014 Game Developers' Conference, Jim Crawford (creator of Frog Fractions) gave a talk (transcript).
Shamus Young examines the idea of "story collapse" (the moment where a story reaches a critical point of ridiculousness and causes you to question every other aspect of it) by deconstructing the Thieves Guild quest-line in Skyrim: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. Entertaining reading for writers, designers and gamers alike.
Risk: Legacy, released in 2011, adds an interesting twist to the classic boardgame: it introduces permanent, game-changing modifications to the board and game pieces every time it is played. Last year, the designer of the game, Rob Daviau, gave a fascinating talk on the design challenges inherent in such a game. The video of that talk is now freely available to watch. [more inside]
"The collaborative, web-based, massively multiplayer game Glitch began its initial private testing in 2009, opened to the public in 2010, and was shut down in 2012. It was played by more than 150,000 people and was widely hailed for its original and highly creative visual style. The entire library of art assets from the game, has been made freely available, dedicated to the public domain. Code from the game client is included to help developers work with the assets. All of it can be downloaded and used by anyone, for any purpose. (But: use it for good.)" [more inside]
This is my attempt to document three hundred different gameplay concepts of my own creation. Sean Howard, creator of the webcomic A Modest Destiny, started publishing ideas and examinations of game mechanics once a day in 2007. After fifty days he quit the daily schedule, but he's up to 168 ideas and also has a small collection of prototypes and free-to-use pixel art. [more inside]
"Remember kids, whenever you get frustrated at the state of the art, or you find yourself struggling to express yourself, just repeat after me: FUCK. VIDEOGAMES." Darius Kazemi (previously,previously and previously) writes about the use and abuse of video games as a means of expression.
Keita's Quick Ideas. In 2011, Keita Takahashi, designer of Katamari Damacy, joined the team of the unconventional MMO game Glitch (previously), which had to close its doors last year. The Glitch people have since published 200 of Keita's ideas for the game.
"When we first started working on Dustforce, it was frustrating to not be able to find much data about whether indie game development is a realistic thing to do with your life." Hitbox Team helps remedy that for future designers in this article about the finances and sales of their game, Dustforce.
Low-poly art is an aesthetic in 3D modeling that works with intentionally limited resources to emulate the look of first generation three dimensional gaming, and also a response to the increasing role of mobile and web platforms as 3D game spaces (some more examples can be found in this thread). A great example of this technique is game designer and 3D artist Invader Ace. Their Tumblr has character designs, game mock-ups, and small vignette scenes. A full portfolio can be found at their website, here. [more inside]
The Castle Doctrine is the new "home invasion MMO" from cult game designer Jason Rohrer (previously: Sleep is Death, Passage, Chain World). It portrays a rather bleak world in which you must place traps to defend your home, family and life savings from an onslaught of burglars. At the same time, you must invade other players' homes to steal their life savings, in order to buy more expensive traps and tools. The more money you gain, the more attractive target your home is, so you better be clever in rigging up those traps. It's fiendish, brilliant, and currently open for public alpha at 50% of the full price. Rock Paper Shotgun has some early impressions: Part 1, Part 2.
"For the past few years, I have been trying to learn how to do all the various creative and technical things that go into making a video game - programming, graphics, interface, writing, gameplay design - in addition to music and sound, which I do for a living. The 2013 Global Game Jam was this past weekend, and over two sleep-deprived days I completed my first solo project: A game for OS X and Windows where you punch spaceships with your dick. (Probably safe for work, unless your boss considers it inappropriate to see a pink laser beam with a boxing glove on the tip which shoots out of a giant robot's groin.)"[via mefi projects]
Ever played Monopoly? Then you've played a board game that was designed by a woman (it was, under its original title, "The Landlord's Game," the creation of Elizabeth Magie). Want to play more board games designed by women? Let's go! [more inside]
As the conversation about the state of games criticism continues, there is a site that acts as a platform for some of the best writing in the field by theorists, critics, and independent developers: Nightmare Mode dot net. [more inside]
This is a video of a game which replicates Portal's physics system in 2 dimensions on the TI-83 graphic calculator. The game was developed by a 20 year old student studying game design. A download link is available here.
"The experiences of women may not be easy to portray in the aggressive world of videogames. If such a game is made - and I hope it is - it will be because its creators demanded to be heard. It will be created because women made it." (Source)While the vast majority of video game titles are designed primarily by men, women have been a part of video game development since the earliest arcades. Here are some of their games: [more inside]
"Legend of Grimrock is a party-based dungeon-crawler RPG made by a crack team of four experienced Finns in just ten months. It is also one of the finest, best thought-out games I’ve played in a long time. Here is a game defined by limitations – small budget, small team, goofy 2D tile-based movement – and yet it is a stunning success because it respects those limits and uses them to do more with less. There is a lesson here for studios both starving and bloated. " An article on how The Legend of Grimrock (released in April of this year, previously on Metafilter) takes a simplified set of rules and turns them in to a finely crafted machine.
Pongs (browser game, Flash) is Pippin Barr's exploration of a tiny corner of the game design universe: 36 variations of Pong.
In most racing games you control the car. In this one you are the road (Gameplay Video). [more inside]
Errant Signal is one man's blog about games, wherein he plumbs the nuances of game mechanics, bemoans the state of game journalism, and also offers incredibly insightful reviews of games. He tackles the intrinsic flaws of Deus Ex: Invisible War, broaches heresy by critiquing the Half-Life series, and combats cynicism by gushing about Bastion.
"I love stories. My chief hobby is reading. I was formally trained as a writer, not as a game designer (there wasn’t really any formal training for game design I got started, but that’s another story). I think most game stories are not very good. And I quite enjoy games with narrative threads pulling me through them. When I find a game with a good story, I frequently prefer the story to the actual game! So please keep that in mind as you read: I love story."
Narrative in a game is not a mechanic. It’s a form of a feedback, by Raph Koster
Narrative in a game is not a mechanic. It’s a form of a feedback, by Raph Koster
"One for my Baby and one for my BRAIN" "The Last Flight of Onan V" "And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Bread" - GameToilet collects and illustrates one man's game ideas. It's Friday Flash Fun - in your imagination! (Warning: illustrations, imagination may be NSFW.)
It's All Games Now: The Convergence of Games and Social Media (video, 61 minutes), is a talk given by Raph Koster, one of the lead designers of the MMO Ultima Online, at the 2011 Game Developers Conference Online in Austin Texas. In it he looks at how digital games have changed as a social experience from MUDs to World of Warcraft, where they are going in the future, and the bleed between games and the real world. Koster has posted a summary here on his site. [more inside]
In 1987 the first Castlevania was released. It was followed by Simon's Quest in 1988. The difference between the two games is stark. Although they both have the same basic plot lines (kill Dracula) and setting, Simon's Quest introduced an open world and RPG elements, giving eventual rise to the genre known as "Metroidvania". Sequelitis looks at the difference between these design decisions and shows that maybe Metroidvanias aren't quite as much fun as you might remember.
" ... there is a depth of field technique with a controllable aspect called 'bokeh,' which describes a certain quality of blur that we often notice in the more luminous parts of a film’s background and that varies considerably with lens and camera type. Bokeh is a photography term derived from the Japanese boké- blur, haze ... When implemented in games the technique encapsulates a certain kind of second-order removal from reality. We are simulating not the way things look, but how they look after they have been filtered through the eye of a camera." Independent game developer Mathew Burns takes a look at how video games reflect reality in his account of the 2011 Game Developer's Conference. Burns also writes the blog Magical Wasteland. [more inside]
Did you know that popular, absurdly inexpensive board game producer James Ernest's Cheapass Games has released some of their most popular games as free PDFs? Among them Deadwood, Devil Bunny Needs A Ham, The Big Cheese, FALLING and Unexploded Cow? [more inside]
Extra Credits is a weekly video series on the design, status quo and potential of video games. [more inside]
For the 25th Game Developers Conference, organizers hosted several postmortems for classic games such as Out Of This World, Doom, and Maniac Mansion. They are now free to view online. [more inside]
"In 2010, Deadly Premonition was a surprise hit among players searching for a deep narrative single player game, and went on to win over a dozen end of the year awards from a variety of media outlets (including Gamasutra). At GDC 2011, Deadly Premonition director Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro, revealed his seven tactics for creating a memorable story that will inspire a strong fan reaction." Link contains spoilers, excerpt inside the thread. [more inside]
Choice of Broadsides is a choose-your-own-adventure game set in an alternate 19th Century world that is much like our own, where Albion and Gaul fight for naval supremacy. You can choose to be a gentleman in a standard patriarchal society, or a gentlewoman in a matriarchal one. Later on in the game you can choose your sexual orientation. Originally there were no options for a same-sex relationship, but after demands from players, it was added in. Spoilers below the cut. [more inside]
On a snowy Valentine's Day weekend in Michigan Sid Meier creates a game in 48 hours called Escape from Zombie Hotel! He's there to judge a 48 hour game design contest at his alma mater, University of Michigan but decides to also work on a game alongside the student teams. He also talks about his career, focusing on his early days. This is the third installment of motherboard.tv's Oral History of Gaming series. The first profiles Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first home gaming console, and the second is about Eric Zimmerman, designer of Sissyfight. Sadly, the awesome-looking Escape from Zombie Hotel has note been released, but the oher games designed during the contest are available here. [via Rock Paper Shotgun]
Tom Bissell recounts how he was addicted to video games and cocaine and how beautiful he finds computer games. Tom Bissell, who was profiled by Poets & Writers three years ago when his writing career seemed like it could only go up, has written books and articles for such magazines as The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, The Believer, among others. For the last three years he's spent his writing time on Grand Theft Auto IV and other games. The Observer convened a number of games journalists and industry folk to converse about video games in connection to Bissell's essay. Earthworm Jim designer Dave Perry gave a TED talk a few years ago about the increasing aesthetic value of games which included a video by a college student Michael Highland called As Real as Your Life, which presents his thoughts about what it's like to have grown up on computer games. [Tom Bissell previously on MeFi]
Jean-Paul LeBreton, level designer for BioShock 2, has written an analysis of the original Doom as well as remade (demade?) a level from BioShock using Doom [design notes].
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