Image by Ian D via Flickr
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»
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:
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:
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»
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»
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»