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 […]

Building Synthetic Economies

How much experience should this monster give? What drop rate should we set on this item? How do we know two functionally distinct items are worth the same amount? Economics is the study of choice under scarcity, and one of many ways to discuss player motivation is to view it through the lens of economics. […]

Combat Encounters

Players want to kill the unkillable, solve the unsolvable, and explore the unexplored, but most of all, they want to feel they have accomplished great things. The greatest goal of God of War combat is to ensure the player never deviates from his quest of awesome. This goal, this process, is tied into your understanding […]

Horror In Games

I love horror films. I can’t get enough of them. Slashers, thrillers, creature features, you name it. After countless murders, mutants, and mayhem I still come back for more. It should be no surprise, therefore, that I have a deep love for games that try and scare me, and it is this love that angers […]

Qualities of a Great Level

Good levels comprise numerous factors, all equally important. Visual appeal, good pacing, intriguing puzzles and interesting fights are all critical components in making good levels. Great levels, however, are defined by three important qualities: visibility, telling a story and accomplishment. Visibility Visibility refers to a player’s ability to clearly understand the goal, his ability to […]

Qualities of a Good Designer

Practical game development demands more than being creative, and when I say practical I mean real development – not just sitting around dreaming up ideas. I’m talking about the day to day life of a designer. Yes, creativity is required, but it is not the primary metric against which you will be measured; think of […]

Simplicity and Honesty

“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Literary Ethics (1838). I have discovered a consistent theme in life: greatness and success are tied closely to simplicity and honesty. I was watching Hell’s Kitchen one night, and while Gordon Ramsay was in the middle of choosing […]

The Craftsman Designer

My philosophy on game design is very simple: everyone is a designer. Far too often in game development it falls to the design department to come up with all of the ideas for a game. This is crap. Game designers hold no monopoly over the production of workable ideas — far from it, in truth. […]