Genre Defying

Genres are stupid. And a designer that starts off an idea with “I’m going to design a platformer/FPS/racing/RPG game” is a stupid designer.

The worst thing any creative person can do is restrict themselves, especially early on in the process. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, The Legend of Zelda | 2 Comments

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this…

Structured exploration is a design in which players are carefully guided through a game world with the feeling that they are exploring on their own. In my opinion, no game series does this better than The Legend of Zelda.

This blog post contains potential spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, please bookmark this page and return once you have completed the game.

So you’re ready to read on?

Are you sure?

Go on then… Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, The Legend of Zelda | 1 Comment

Game Over?

If you’re playing an arcade game and you lose all your lives you’ll have to pay more money to have another go. That’s a genuine game over.

Back in the early days of console gaming, there were no saves and the collection of extra lives were important as running out meant having to start the game again from scratch. As such, learning where the extra lives were hidden was an important skill. The term ‘game over’ stayed, but was really more of a ‘game restart’. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion | 3 Comments

Designing in a Jam

Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a 48 hour game jam in aid of Children in Need.

Game jams are a fantastic environment for testing your game design skills as the very limited time given tests your abilities and short-comings to the extreme. You need to be able to taper your design scope, be confident in choosing which features stay and which get cut and most importantly communicate your design in a clear and concise manner, quickly. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, Game Jam, Whack-A-Cake | Leave a comment

Behavioural and Cognitive Theory

This post is an extract from a university assignment I wrote in 2008. Although written three years ago the information is still applicable so I thought I’d share it here. To help explain the theory, I have used Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn as a case study. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, Fire Emblem, Game Theory | 1 Comment

It’s all a Game

Have you ever been accused of not taking anything seriously? Did you have the phrase “everything is just a game to you” thrown at you as if it were an insult? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be destined for a career in games design!

I think that a big part of why I decided to become a games designer was because I seem to find games or gameplay elements in a pretty wide range of situations. The most recent example of this is the business cards for the part-time indie team I co-founded, +AsDesigned Games. Continue reading

Posted in +AsDesigned Games, Design Discussion, Game City, Impatient Squirrel | Leave a comment

Down is Up, Dammit

While at the Eurogamer Expo last month, the first thing I did when I got my hands on Batman: Arkham City wasn’t to administer some caped justice on some goons, nor was it to grapple to a rooftop and show off my bat-skills. It wasn’t even to watch the opening cut scene. The first thing I did when I got my hands on Batman: Arkham City was to go to the options menu and invert the Y axis. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, Eurogamer Expo, Research | 2 Comments

My Top Five Designs of the Eurogamer Expo 2011*

Following the Eurogamer Expo last weekend, I have compiled a list of the top five designs I saw while there. The number one spot may surprise you… Continue reading

Posted in Assassin's Creed, Design Discussion, Eurogamer Expo, Mario Kart, OnLive, Playstation Vita, Special Effect | 3 Comments

When is an Adventure not an Adventure?

When it’s Adventure World by Zynga.

Zynga’s latest game, Adventure World, is a step away from their tried and tested Ville series, perhaps in a bid to attract the more traditional gamer.

Unfortunately, they’ve made so many terrible and bizarre design decisions that I can’t imagine that any traditional gamers will take to the game. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, Social Games, Zynga | 2 Comments

Make It. Break It. Fix It.

After spending months designing a game, it’s time to test it.

Although QA is a dedicated role in itself, pretty much all departments will be pitching in with bugs, and the designer is in the best position to see when things aren’t working as they should.

While I’m primarily checking game balance, I’ll also be keeping an eye out for various other bugs and guiding the QA team on whether a bug is as designed or not. Continue reading

Posted in Design Discussion, Metrics, QA, Social Games | Leave a comment