Game Design

Legislators condemn action against Hearthstone pro in letter to Activision Blizzard CEO

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 October 2019 - 1:31pm

United States senators and representatives have penned a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, condemning Blizzard's decision to punish a Hearthstone player's pro-Hong Kong comments. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Humble Monthly is lightly rebooting as Humble Choice later this year

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 October 2019 - 11:26am

Humble is giving its monthly game subscription plan Humble Monthly a fresh coat of paint, and a new tiered approach that removes the mystery from the service. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Unity is raising Pro and Plus prices for new subscriptions in 2020

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 October 2019 - 9:26am

Developers with existing Unity subscriptions won†™t be affected by the change, but those that sign up after January 1, 2020 will end up paying a little bit extra. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PixelCast 7, Pixels, Bears, and Sacrilegious Santa... - by Jeremy Alessi Blogs - 18 October 2019 - 7:38am
n PixelCast 7, Jeremy hangs out at Pixels = Pints + Bytes for the latest PixelFest Devs meetup and chats with two local indies about their studios.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Breaking the Crunch Cycle in the Video Game Industry - by Antonio Torres Blogs - 18 October 2019 - 7:38am
The video game industry has a well-documented problem – known as ‘’crunch”. Crunch is status quo for the video game industry and just about every video game ever produced has required the sacrifice of countless hours of free time to meet deadlines
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Adding A New Player – Rocks in a Pond

Gnome Stew - 18 October 2019 - 5:00am

I got a text message a few weeks ago letting me know that my good friend Jim was moving back to town, after 20 years. Jim was the first gamer I met when I moved to Buffalo in the mid-’90s and we played a number of great games together. Then, one day Jim moved away for work, and he never came back. I had honestly never expected him to come back, and we kept in touch over the years online and meeting at the occasional con. Needless to say, his return is exciting, and I started talking to him about gaming with him again, excited to have him join the games we have running. But I also knew that having Jim join a table was going to be a disruption to any game, no matter how cool Jim is and how cool the group is. So I started to think about that change and how it could be mitigated. 

So let’s talk about adding people to gaming groups…

Group Dynamics

A given group of people who game together for any period of time develop their own dynamic which includes things like: 

  • A social hierarchy (who leads, who supports)
  • Communication paths (frequency, platform, tone, etc)
  • Acceptable and unacceptable behavior (missing games, language at the table, etc)
  • Conflict resolution (controlled discussions, arguments, etc)
  • Shared experiences and stories (important stories to the group, funny things, etc)
  • Social touchstones (inside jokes, favorite quotes, etc)
  • Playstyle (murder hobos, talk to all NPCs, high drama, rules orthodox, etc)

This can be a thing that a group consciously creates through active discussion and deliberate action (e.g. a group may actively work not to be murder hobos). Other parts will come about organically through interaction (e.g. the day before the game everyone starts chatting online to remember what happened last session). 

The end result of this is that any established game group has a dynamic whether they know it or not, and as long as that dynamic is healthy, it is then comfortable and forms a kind of comfort zone for the group. It is, in essence, how that group plays and gets along. 

Change and Equilibration  Change is inevitable when a new person joins a group. So the question becomes how you handle the disruption until the new dynamic is formed. Share1Tweet1Reddit1Email

So, if an established group’s dynamic is a pond, a new player is then a rock who is dropped into that pond — the result of which is that waves are made for a while and then the pond settles out and accommodates the rock. 

The arrival of a new person into the group will force a change to the group dynamics, no matter what. This is not avoidable. A new person comes into a group with their own thoughts, outlooks, stories, playstyle, etc. They also arrive without the shared experiences, stories, and touchstones that the group has used to bond together. 

At first, much like dropping a stone into the pond, the disruption is large — but over time as the new person integrates into the group (assuming that the person is compatible and the group is not toxic) the disruption becomes smaller, and eventually, the group dynamic equilibrates to a new norm, and a new dynamic forms.

Change is inevitable when a new person joins a group. So the question becomes how you handle the disruption until the new dynamic is formed.

How Much Disruption A Person Will Cause

The first thing you want to consider before you add a person to a group is are they a good fit? What we mean by that is how big of disruption will that person be to the group. Likewise, is the group a good fit for the person?

The way we determine that is by looking at the factors that make up the group dynamic and assessing if the new person aligns closely to the existing dynamic, or if they are radically different. 

For example, if your group has a playstyle of being lawful characters doing good, and the person you want to add only plays evil characters and is a murder hobo, then the disruption will be larger. 

Another example: your group has a de facto leader; one of the players winds up playing the leader character in all your games. The new person you are adding was the leader person from another group. You are likely to have a disruption as the two leaders figure out how to work together.

You can do this exercise alone, by talking to the new player, by talking to the group about the new player, or all of the above. You should go through this exercise. Not every addition to a group is going to be a good one, and not every group is good for a new player.

Determine How Well Your Game Supports Change

The next thing you need to consider is if your current game will support the change of adding a new character mid-game. Some games have an open structure where the characters have a chance to meet new people and go adventuring with them, such as a fantasy game where you return to town before exploring the next section of a mega-dungeon.

Compare that to an ongoing political thriller at an isolated space colony. The addition of a new character will need to be worked in, but also that player has missed so much of the politics and intrigue that came before.

In some cases, you are going to find that the game won’t have a problem adding in another player, but in some other cases you may decide that it’s best not to add the new player to the current game, but rather wait until this game concludes and add them into the next new campaign.

Test Drive

If a new person seems like a good fit on the surface, and everyone is willing, have a one-shot game to let everyone get to know each other. You can start with some socializing before the game so that everyone can get to know each other, and then you can play out a one-shot adventure.

This gives everyone a chance to meet and check each other out, without any kind of commitment. The socializing will help to see if personalities mesh and the gaming will help to see if playstyles are compatible. 

Understand that one game does not reveal everything, but it will help you figure out if it’s worth investing more time to find out. If the game goes well and everyone had a good time, you can continue discussing adding the person, and if the game was a disaster, then everyone can part ways. 


So if the person seems like a good fit for the group and vice versa, your game is capable of taking on a new player easily, and the test drive went well, you can then have a few discussions. The first is with the new player to see if they want to join the group. The second is with the group to see if they want the new player to join the group.

The outcome of these two discussions needs to be an enthusiastic Yes in order to add the person to the group. If either the new player or the group says no, then it’s a No, and if either is luke-warm or hesitant then it should also be a No. Like everything else with consent, you cannot push through without the consent being enthusiastic. 

I have been in games were we added people and the group or the person was not enthusiastic — and eventually, things didn’t work out. Trust people’s instincts. If they don’t have a good feeling, then it’s likely not going to work (now if that is a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, I don’t know). 

You Seem Trustworthy… 

Adding a new player to a group can be a great thing. Group dynamics are the sum of the people who make it up. A new player can bring about positive changes to a group, and move a group in directions you were not expecting. But sometimes a group cannot withstand the change a new player brings, especially if they are very disruptive. Likewise from the new player’s perspective joining a group can either be very supportive or not. 

The thing we do know is that adding a new person to a group is going to bring about a change to the group. It is naive to think otherwise. By doing a bit of work, not rushing to push someone into a game, and having good discussions, you can make sure that the disruption you do cause when adding someone is manageable and leads to a fruitful new group.

What are some of your disaster stories and success stories about adding new players to a group? Do you test drive new players with your group? What games make it easier or harder to add players? 

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sponsored: Learn how to plan for performance and scale for multiplayer games in a free webinar

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 October 2019 - 12:49pm

Learn about the pros and cons of different infrastructure implementations, and tactics to employ to maximize performance and minimize cost in this one-hour webinar! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Call of Duty drops loot boxes in favor of battle passes in Modern Warfare

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 October 2019 - 11:58am

Past Call of Duty games have included loot boxes, a now-controversial monetization practice, but Modern Warfare publisher Activision says the latest game is taking a different approach. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Stadia's wireless controller needs a cord to play on everything but TV at launch

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 October 2019 - 8:59am

Google Stadia†™s November 19 debut isn†™t the game streaming service†™s full rollout, and news of how some features will be limited at launch serves as a reminder of that as the Founders Edition release draws near. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game events marketing walkthrough for service providers - by Junxue Li Blogs - 17 October 2019 - 7:19am
We have attended many events this year, GDC, Game Connection,etc. Here in this article I sum up how to exploit all the features of the events, as a marketing person. I think it would be most useful for service providers (Data support, solution, art)
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless #54: A Decade of LoL - by Kenneth Liu Blogs - 17 October 2019 - 7:15am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I publish broadly. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Should your game be released on early access? - by Dan Smiley Blogs - 17 October 2019 - 7:14am
Let's say you're a small indie studio thinking about releasing your next game on early access. What production and business factors should you consider? This post looks into what you might want to think about when checking if early access is right for you
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gnomecast #77 – Weather!

Gnome Stew - 17 October 2019 - 5:00am

Join Ang, Jared, and J.T. for a discussion about how to use weather in your games. Will these gnomes’ all-weather gear be enough to keep them out of the stew?

Download: Gnomecast #77 – Weather!

Gnomes Ang, Chris, Phil, Rob, and Senda will be in attendance at the online gaming convention Gauntlet Con 2019 Oct 24th through 27th. If you’re seeing this in time, check out registration information here. If you’re going, get more information on Misdirected Mark events and panels here.

Follow Jared at @KnightErrant_JR on Twitter, and check out his blog, What Do I Know?

Follow J.T. at @jtevans, and check out his website,

Follow Ang at @orikes13 on Twitter and see pictures of her cats at @orikes13 on Instagram.

Keep up with all the gnomes by visiting, following @gnomestew on Twitter, or visiting the Gnome Stew Facebook Page. Subscribe to the Gnome Stew Twitch channel, check out Gnome Stew Merch, and support Gnome Stew on Patreon!

For another great show on the Misdirected Mark network, check out Bonus Experience (also coming to Gauntlet Con)!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Superseeds: The Lazarim, Part Two

RPGNet - 17 October 2019 - 12:00am
Details of the Lazarim world.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

College Hearthstone team hit with 6-month ban after showing 'Free Hong Kong' sign

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 October 2019 - 2:04pm

One week after the original infraction took place, Blizzard has issued bans to the members of the American University Hearthstone team that held up a 'Free Hong Kong' sign during an event stream. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Registration is now open for GDC 2020!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 October 2019 - 8:58am

Sign up now to attend GDC 2020 at a discount price and gain access to the global game development community for a week of unmatched education, inspiration and networking in San Francisco! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Unity Addressables Hosting: Amazon S3 in 4 Steps - by Ruben Torres Bonet Blogs - 16 October 2019 - 8:03am
Players want to play, they don't want to wait. Help them buying your game: reduce your game's download size with Unity Addressables Hosting. And a year later? Offer them a DLC based on, guess what? Unity Addressables.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

My 3 Year Journey to Create DON'T GIVE UP, a bare all Postmortem - by Tristan Barona Blogs - 16 October 2019 - 8:02am
I spent 3 years making my first commercial game, a 7 hour RPG that told a very charming and personal story. I reflect on my efforts, the emotional toll, what I could have done differently, share my release stats, and discuss why it was all worth it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

All the discussions about the artistic nature of videogames overlook these three crucial aspects - by Sophia Gardner Blogs - 16 October 2019 - 8:01am
So can a videogame be a piece of art? Yes, but to see it, we must first educate ourselves and open our minds a bit.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

10 Best Books for Game Analysts - by Vasiliy Sabirov Blogs - 16 October 2019 - 8:00am
Find out the list of best books for game analysts which can broaden your horizons.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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