Game Design

Articles or blogs about designing games of all kinds.
Snipehunter's picture

You've got to have faith


Image by Ian D via Flickr

Sorry, I haven't made much an attempt to keep the site up lately. I could work up a lot of excuses, but honestly -- it's because I'm wrapped up in work. I really don't spend much time thinking about anything else, lately. I suppose that's because I'm finally working on one of the very few "dream projects." Heroes of Telara is one of those project that I've waited more than a decade to make and now that I'm working on it, that's pretty much my whole life. Getting a chance to work on your dream project is rare, so rare in fact that for most designers it never happens at all. I've often wondered why that is, and it's that question that motivated me to write, today. Read more»

Snipehunter's picture

Writing in the Game Industry

I was asked today to speak at a conference on a panel discussing writing curriculum in game design schools. I couldn't make it due to a scheduling conflict, which is really too bad. As you are likely aware, I have a pretty well documented, if misunderstood, stance on writing in the industry: I don't think you should hire a writer, if a designer who can write is also available.

I can imagine that some people might interpret that to mean you shouldn't teach writing to new designers, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I think there are few more important skills you can teach a game designer. Learning how to write well enhances your ability to think critically and allows you to more easily convey your thoughts to others. Everything else a designer does hinges upon those skills. Really, why wouldn't you teach aspiring game designers to write? Read more»

Snipehunter's picture

French Design - Interesting Questing Using Only Questing Structure

Along the same lines as the concept of a limited set of basic tools is the often muttered MMO adage that there are less than a dozen quest objective types. I actually think it's a lot less than 12. In fact, most of the folks I know who are making MMOs think there are only 7, just like my basic tools:

  1. Kill Things
  2. Acquire objects
  3. Talk to NPCs
  4. Give objects to an NPC
  5. Interact with Objects in the World
  6. Travel to Locations/Waypoints
  7. Protect or Defend something

You could probably argue that some of those object types are really just embellishments of others as well, so maybe it's more like 5:

  1. Kill something/prevent something from dying
  2. Acquire Objects
  3. Talk to NPCs/Deliver objects to NPCs
  4. Interact with Objects in the World
  5. Travel to locations/waypoints

In either case, that's a pretty restrictive collection of things a player can do, right? There are only so many combinations of those objectives you can string together before a player has essentially done every quest you can imagine, mechanically. In other words, if you've played an MMO with questing, there's a good chance you've already played every type of quest you could possibly think of. Even on a small game, this is true: there were thousands of quests in Auto Assault across the three factions, but all of them used objective types listed above and pretty much nothing else. So how does a designer use these simple quest types to make interesting content?

The answer is context. Read more»

Snipehunter's picture

French Design - A Technique For Eliciting Lifelike Behavior Using Simple Tools

I wanted to print an old design doc I'd written a few years ago, but sadly I haven't heard back from the studio I wrote it for, so I can't do that. Instead, I suppose I'll just talk about an idea I worked on once. Using the parlance of junk patents, let's call this installment of French Design - "A technique for eliciting lifelike behavior using simple tools." Read more»

Snipehunter's picture

Seven Basic Tools

When I was a kid, I used to watch MacGyver all the time. In a very real way, he was my hero - a guy who could make anything from anything and who did so for the betterment (and wonderment) of everyone. As a kid, I really wanted to be that guy. I mean, I didn't want to be an obviously Canadian would-be spy, but I wanted to be a builder - a guy who could make what was needed when it was needed using only the razor sharp talent of his mind. Read more»

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