The Art of Boss Design

Boss fights are the linchpin of your entire combat experience, possibly your entire game, as one bad experience is all it takes to bring your game to a screeching halt. Something so important, so integral, demands effort and attention to detail, but for most projects they are relegated to the very end. Why? I was […]

Designing Fun Combat

I have covered a lot of different topics about combat: How to design your enemies, how to design your combat encounters, how to define the gap, and the importance of depth and breadth. This covers a lot of ground, which is great, but it is high time we grasp for the slippery opponent that isfun. […]

Pacing Graphs

Every time you create a chart, a table, or a graph you are attempting to visualize and communicate important information, but often, people approach the task with a careless and blasé attitude that leads to a muddying of their message, which ultimately leads one, even with the best of intentions, to chart the wrong course. […]

Fibonacci Game Design

Good systems find a balance between keeping the player guessing and keeping things simple; this means both knowing how many options to provide the player, and knowing when to say no to something regardless of how cool. It involves things like how many weapons to have in the game, how many talent trees, or how […]

Defining The Gap

Your cast is the story. The story is your cast. These are not separate entities, and if you fail to deliver a strong, compelling cast, then your grand imaginings will be as flat as day old soda. A story follows a meaningful flow. The protagonist, our player as avatar, takes an action, and she expects […]

Designing Enemies

Almost every move you can think of has already been created. Do not be ashamed to use the ideas of other designers, as it is no more offensive to use a pre-constructed library in Java, than it is to take the ideas from another game and reapply them. The ideas don`t make the designer, execution […]

The Principles of Animation

There is no truer test of the combat designer than a boss, because they, more than any other cast member, thread those tightest of needles: challenge vs frustration. Your task is difficult, and, unfortunately, this topic of boss design expands far beyond one simple article. I wish I had a simple solution for you. Every […]

Depth vs Breadth in Combat

Being a good combat designer requires understanding the meaning and significance of both depth and breadth in your designs. To put it simply: depth is the Knowledge of How, and breadth is the Knowledge of Why. But what does this mean? How do I perform that move? Why should I use this move? How come […]

Crafting Systems

I love crafting. Tell me a game has crafting, and already the first notes of the sweet sirens call begin to tickle my ears — yearning, as a designer and a player, to unlock its secrets. The barest whiff gives an alluring quality to any game; and yet, as I find far too often, this […]

Predictably Irrational Game Design

Behavioral Economics is a fascinating field, and the book Predictably Irrational provides a lot of fascinating insights into the world of human economic psychology. It covers a lot of topics, with field experiments, but the following are particularly important for game design: relativity, the power of zero, the social verses market exchange, and the power […]