Game Design

PixelCast 22, Tony Powell! - by Jeremy Alessi Blogs - 31 January 2020 - 7:22am
In episode 22 Jeremy sits down with one of the East Coast's most iconic indie game developers, founder of Philosoplay, and PixelFest 2016 panelist... drumroll... Tony Powell!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Height of Annoyance

Gnome Stew - 31 January 2020 - 12:00am

“Why does everyone keep going, ‘KITTY!’ when I’m a dangerous and deadly predator!?”

One of my regular groups has been playing a modern paranormal game using Savage Worlds. It’s a mash up of the Dresden Files along with a little bit of the World of Darkness, but with our own spin on the setting. Our eclectic group of supernatural folk include a nervous changeling fae, a rich kid selkie, a witch blood that talks to dead people, a water wizard that is a descendant of lost Atlantis, and my exiled werewolf. Since I was playing a werewolf, I pictured her human form as muscular and tall, but when the group started talking about what our characters looked like, I learned that everyone else in the group was either the same height as my character, or taller. Hrmph!

Okay, so my annoyance at this is kind of petty and a bit silly. In the grand scheme of the game, so what if most of the group is 5’10” or over 6’? Does it really matter if the character I pictured as tall enough to stand out in a crowd is suddenly eye to eye or overshadowed by everyone else? Not really, but it can still be a little frustrating when the vision you had of your character doesn’t quite work in the light of what the other players have chosen for their characters.

In this particular case, the disputed feature is height, but I’ve seen this kind of disconnect come up with other kinds of physical features before. Someone made a red head, only to find out that almost every character in the party is a ginger. Or, the player who made a character they wanted to come off as tough, only to discover the rest of the party looks like a biker gang on a bad day.

So, what do you do with a frustration like this?

  • Session Zero is for more than just balancing stats and mechanics. While not everyone may have a vision of their character in their head yet, it’s worth bringing up some basics if you’re aiming to try and be noteworthy in a particular area. Let folks know if you’re picturing your character as being particularly tall, short, stout, or whatever. Doing this doesn’t necessarily claim ownership of that characteristic, but folks might consider other aspects if they know you’re going that route with your character.
  • Be vague and stay away from actual numbers. While this doesn’t work with some physical features, your group could agree to stay way from specific numbers for height and weight and just use descriptors. This may come as a surprise, but the designation of tall and short is completely dependent upon point of view. To someone who is only 5’2”, someone who is 5’8” is tall. To someone who is 6’2”, someone who is 5’8” is pretty short. One of my gaming friends is somewhat ‘height blind’. He fully believes me (5’8”) and my roommate (5’3”) are the same height. When we point out the difference in our height, he is legitimately surprised. In his world, people are either short (shorter than him), normal (about 6’ or so) or tall (taller than him). Switching to descriptors can help let the rest of the group adjust their perception without having to put real numbers to those features.
  • Adjust your description of your character. If you’re just getting started with the game, there’s usually no foul in changing up various things about the character within reason. This includes the description. If you really wanted to have your character be unique with their emerald green eyes, but then learn that everyone else also gave their character green eyes, go ahead and switch it up to another color.
  • Embrace the commonalities. Maybe you wanted your character to stand out with bright blue hair, but when play starts you realize everyone else also gave their character unnatural hair color, it could be fun to lean into that. Maybe the bright colors are something they could have all bonded over. Maybe it’s a choice they made when they started working together. Either way, it could become something to celebrate rather than get annoyed at.

Whatever route you choose to get around your annoyance, the biggest suggestion I can make is to not be a jerk about it. Yeah, it might be annoying that the description you gave your character doesn’t quite line up with what you hoped after you hear about the rest of the characters, but it’s usually not anything someone did on purpose. Figure out a way to get over your annoyance and get back to the important stuff: the game.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Discord no longer doubles as a game launcher as two non-core features get the axe

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 January 2020 - 3:00pm

Part of the decision to cut features comes from Discord's desire to zero in on its core purpose and focus on offering utilities that "don't make [Discord] bulky and take away from the core chat experience." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Only 23% of EA's $5.4 billion net bookings in the last year came from non-digital sources

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 January 2020 - 2:04pm

Electronic Arts says that 77 percent of its overall net bookings for the trailing twelve month period ending December 31, 2019 came from digital sources. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Changes are coming to E3, including new 'experiences' and promises of data security

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 January 2020 - 10:02am

The ESA has shared a light outline of what changes it has in store for the next event, saying the industry will "be happy to know that we're not producing E3 2020 in a vacuum." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Mobile Yu-Gi-Oh! and PES titles are Konami's top revenue earning games this year

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 January 2020 - 8:35am

Konami's Digital Entertainment segment reported a 2.7 percent increase in revenue year-over-year thanks to the success of mobile titles during the nine month period. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Come to GDC to better understand the challenges of game industry unionization

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 January 2020 - 8:19am

Come to GDC 2020 and see a panel conversation about recent efforts to unionize the game industry, featuring experts from Game Workers Unite and other international game worker unions! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Learning how to make a 3D model - by Oliver Smith Blogs - 30 January 2020 - 7:32am
I recently made a new player character for my game, and since I'm a beginner at Blender I thought I'd share how that went as someone who is pretty new to 3D modelling.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

We need to talk about Ethics. - by Andre Faure Blogs - 30 January 2020 - 7:31am
Ethics is a strong buzz word, but what it means to be ethical? According to the BBC, at its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. That is what we'll discuss in today's post.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless #66: RIP to Two Titans - by Kenneth Liu Blogs - 30 January 2020 - 12:55am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I publish broadly. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Advanced Designers & Dragons: 2019 Year in Review

RPGNet - 30 January 2020 - 12:00am
Great losses, big projects, and a year of reinventions.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video: How Bungie crafted the music of Destiny 2's open world

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 29 January 2020 - 1:28pm

In this 2018 GDC session, composer C. Paul Johnson and Bungie's Skye Lewin and Michael Sechrist walk through the process of designing the score and musical approach for open-world shooter Destiny 2. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Blizzard automatically owns any and all Warcraft 3: Reforged custom games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 29 January 2020 - 12:59pm

Blizzard's automatic ownership of custom games is a notable addition given massive, non-Blizzard games like Dota 2 first started out as custom maps for the original Warcraft 3. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

GDC State of the Industry: Devs torn on whether subscription services devalue games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 29 January 2020 - 11:45am

'Payback rates for most content creators in subscription-based models cannot justify the cost to make the products subscribers use,' writes one respondent in the GDC 2020 State of the Industry report. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Today's your last day to get your early registration discount for GDC 2020!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 29 January 2020 - 8:57am

Early registration for the 2020 Game Developers Conference ends Wednesday, January 29th at 11:59 PM Pacific, so take the opportunity to save money on your pass by registering now at a discounted rate! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

On player taxonomies and motivations - Part 1: Psychological foundations - by Robert Renke Blogs - 29 January 2020 - 7:25am
This one will be a rather theoretical article, discussing researchers from different disciplines of psychology such as Maslow, Herzberg, Freud, Deci, or Reiss.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Part 6, Putting into play - On organizing engaging and dynamic forces - by Katarina Gyllenback Blogs - 29 January 2020 - 7:24am
A hands-on guide on how to start out in the design of an engaging and dynamic game system. The post offers an insight into the narrative and cognitive forces behind the concept of control and pacing, helping designers to organize and direct thoughts.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

IndieVisible - A new initiative to help the gamedev community - by Daniel Gomes Blogs - 29 January 2020 - 7:22am
A social network for game developers. A new approach to help the indie gamedev community. Meet the IndieVisible project.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Troy’s Crock Pot: Intrusion of the Fantastic

Gnome Stew - 29 January 2020 - 12:00am

Gamers, such as I, who are devoted to Dungeons and Dragons and similar tabletop experiences, are all about big, showy magic.

It’s all about fireballs and magical webs and dazzling color sprays. 

And if the spells in the main player’s handbooks aren’t enough, there are usually equally thick supplements replete with even louder, more demonstrative magic.

But what about games where there is magic, but it’s rarely in the players’ control? What about magic that intrudes only occasionally, but with significant purpose?

I think if you game in that sphere, then I would look to the 14th century chivalric poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for inspiration as to how magic could be incorporated in an otherwise mundane world. 


A magical moment

The Green Knight’s first appearance and the challenge of the beheading game takes place at the dawn of the New Year — the solstice — as part of a Christmas celebration.

A holiday, a festival, a celestial convergence, the annual ritual rites at solstice and equinox are all great occasions to have magic pierce the veil, so to speak. 

Magic won’t work on just any old Tuesday. But Friday the 13th? The start of a new moon? A planetary alignment? 

Magic becomes plausible, then. Not just for the adversary, but if they are prepared, for the PCs as well. Will it break the otherwise continuity of your non-magical world if it seems to intrude on just this one, particular time? 


A magical mixture

In the poem, Lady Bertilak’s kissing game and the reward of the impervious girdle highlights how to infuse competing paragon virtues with the attainment of a magical item.  

The knight must live up to a vow of fidelity but also their reputation as a great lover so as to obtain the one thing that can protect them from sure death in the coming confrontation with the Green Knight.

The formula to follow for your game, then, is to have a PC weave a path through two competing virtues particular to them so as to obtain a magical item deemed essential to the final event. If you are able to throw in any social or cultural demands to confound or challenge them, so much the better.


A magical place

Magic is tied to a location. There is some of this in the first meeting between Gawain and the Green Knight, for Camelot is certainly a mystical location in its own right. But Camelot represents the new. Let the final confrontation occur elsewhere, somewhere unfamiliar. The Green Chapel represents something else — a connection to something old, mysterious and not entirely understood. Camelot is a place of vibrant occupation, a hub of activity. The chapel is a forgotten location, a ruin. 

New and old magical locations are easily manufactured in the real world. The quest may begin at SoFi stadium, still under construction in Los Angeles, and end up at the temple of Zeus in Olympia.


As you contemplate magic in your nonmagical world, look for the extremes and things of a contrasting nature around you. That’s where magic — if it exists at all — lives and works. 


Whether its effects are lasting are up to you.







Categories: Game Theory & Design

Don't Miss: Building interesting emergence in Dying Light 2

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 28 January 2020 - 1:23pm

Lead game designer Tymone Smektala explains how a 50 percent completion rate for Dying Light has helped push Techland into making an emergent, choice-driven sequel. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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