Game Design

Marketing your educational game on a tight budget - by Carla Brown Blogs - 29 April 2019 - 7:17am
5 tips to market an educational game with low budgets
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Round Killing Things

RPGNet - 29 April 2019 - 12:00am
Fuzzy fingers.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Gone for Days, Leaked ROMs for Fortnites - by Simon Carless Blogs - 28 April 2019 - 10:13pm
This week's roundup includes a look at Days Gone from multiple perspectives, a unique story of an Atari arcade game 'leaked' in an odd way, Fortnite's unpalatable developer crunch, parallax in games, Mortal Kombat 11's grindy glories, & lots more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Citing arbitration clauses, Riot Games moves to block employee lawsuits

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 26 April 2019 - 2:58pm

Riot Games has filed motions that aim to force two employees involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the company into private arbitration, ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PlayStation Now has 700,000 subscribers

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 26 April 2019 - 1:57pm

Sony shared a little bit of information on the growth of its streaming-service-turned-game-library in a recent earnings call. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Nintendo saw over $1 billion in digital sales this year, a company first

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 26 April 2019 - 11:17am

Digital sales have been on the rise for Nintendo since the Switch released in March 2017, so much so that digital sales for the year surpassed 100 billion yen for the very first time. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Portfolio-Scale Machine Learning at Zynga - by Ben Weber Blogs - 26 April 2019 - 9:47am
Automating predictive modeling across dozens of Zynga games with PySpark.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Truth About Your Prep

Gnome Stew - 26 April 2019 - 5:00am

A few weeks ago, I got all ranty on Twitter about something I am calling Prep-Shaming. It is that thing when someone brags to you or just to the world about how little their prep for their game was. It always sounds something like this, “It took you four hours to prep that game, I prep my game in 5 min with six words I write on a Post-It ™ note.”

Here is a secret from the guy who wrote the book on Prep (seriously look over to the right, its right over there)…

It does not matter how much or how little you prep.*

What matters is did you run a great game for you and your players?

There. That.

Why is there an asterisk? Well, there is one caveat, which I will get to in a little bit.

But first, let’s talk about prep.

What Is Prep?

Most people will say that prep contains your notes, monster stats, clues, etc that you need when you run your game. They are only partly right. Sure we put those things in there, sometimes we put too many things in, sometimes we put the wrong things in there. But all we have established is what prep IS. We need to understand what prep does, before we define what it is, to us.

Prep is what we need to feel confident enough to run a session of whatever game you are playing.

Prep is short for being prepared. If you are prepared to run your game, then it means you are confident enough to run your game. Does that mean the game will be good? No. Prep does not determine a good game. Your GMing and the players will determine that.

But if you are confident and relaxed because the Prep you did has you prepared to run your game, then the chances of a good game are much higher than if you are stressed and freezing up because you can’t find the Dragon Grappling rules.

The Size of Your Prep

Ok. So now that we know that prep is the thing that we use to make us confident to run a game, we can start fresh and figure out what should go into it.

Never Unprepared does a good job of talking about this, so I will sum it up. Put into your prep the things that as a GM you are not going to be able to do off the top of your head as the game is unfolding. That may be maps, or monster stats, clues, key dialog, rules for swimming in armor, etc. Don’t put things in your prep that you are good at, let your brain take care of those.

Also, different games need different prep. A Powered by the Apocalypse game requires a small amount of prep, but a complicated investigation in Gumshoe will likely require more.

 In the 36 years I have been gaming, my prep for a single 4-hour session has varied from 15-20 pages to 1… Share1Tweet1Reddit1Email

So, in the end, your prep will be whatever size you need it to be. In the 36 years I have been gaming, my prep for a single 4-hour session has varied from 15-20 pages to 1, but one thing remained constant. No matter how big or how small, I was confident when I got to the table. That allowed me to focus on running good games.

So don’t let anyone prep-shame you about your prep, and don’t compare you prep to anyone else. Your prep is for you alone.

What about that asterisk?

Oh right. That asterisk, we should talk about the caveat about how big your prep is.

Your prep is only ever the wrong size if you can’t prep your game in the time between games, and that is causing you to not feel so confident at the table — or worse, causing you to cancel games because you are not ready.

So if you are playing weekly and writing 10 pages of prep, and you can do that every week, then you are doing fine. But if you are playing weekly and you can’t always get those 10 pages done, then you need to change something.

You have a few things you can change:

  • The frequency of your game.  You can move your game from weekly to bi-weekly and increase the time between sessions to get your prep done.
  • Change games. You can change the game you are running to something that requires less prep.
  • You can get supplemental material to aid your prep.  You can buy maps, magic items, or other things on DriveThruRPG, and use them rather than make them yourself.
  • You can reduce what you prep. You can figure out what other things you can eliminate from your prep, based on what you can handle in your head. I wrote a series of articles years ago called Prep-Lite that detail some of this, and it’s in Never Unprepared as well.

As your life changes, your free time to prep is going to grow and shrink. Additional responsibilities such as children, advanced degrees, gig work, etc are all going to shrink your free time each day, and your prep will get crunched.

How you solve that problem is up to you. Often its a combination of the things listed. For me, when my kids were born, I eventually did three of the four things. I started by changing my games from weekly to bi-weekly. Then I started to reduce my prep. Eventually, I changed to games that were more improv in nature and supported lower amounts of prep.

Keep On Prepping

Your prep is a personal thing. It is made by you, for you, to use to run awesome games. Do not fall for the trap that your prep has to be like anyone else’s. It needs to be what you need it to be. The most important thing is that you get to the game and behind the screen feeling confident and ready to have a great time with your players.

Over time our lives change and we often have to adapt in order to keep that confident feeling at the table. Sometimes that means that we have to change our prep and hone it to be more concise.

To paraphrase a popular saying, “you prep you.”

Tell me how your prep has changed over time. Share some details, but no prep-shaming.  

Categories: Game Theory & Design

In-depth: Portfolio-scale machine learning at Zynga

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 April 2019 - 9:48pm

Ben Weber, distinguished data scientist at Zynga, lifts the lid on how his company automates predictive modeling across dozens of games including Words with Friends, Farmville, and CSR. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ubisoft is rewarding players for reporting reproducible bugs in Rainbow Six Siege

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 April 2019 - 1:16pm

Ubisoft is upping its bug reporting system, and offering players of Rainbow Six Siege an incentive to find and report issues that the dev team needs to address. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Epic Games is facing yet another lawsuit over a Fortnite emote

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 April 2019 - 12:55pm

Epic has been hit with another lawsuit over one of the many, many emotes in its free-to-play battle royale game Fortnite, but this case is taking a different approach toward the alleged infringement. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Snapchat is launching an SDK to let devs use Bitmoji avatars in their own games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 April 2019 - 8:40am

Snapchat is rolling out a Bitmoji for Games SDK that lets select game developers use the social platform†™s customizable Bitmoji avatars within their own games on any platform. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Epic would back away from exclusives if Steam changed rev share, says CEO

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 April 2019 - 7:50am

Epic Games' Tim Sweeney says that Valve cutting its share down to match Epic†™s 88/12 split would "have a sweeping impact on other platforms for generations to come." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Why the Core Gameplay Loop is Critical For Game Design - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 25 April 2019 - 6:34am
The recent expose of Bioware framed this piece I wrote about why the core gameplay loop of your title can make or break its development
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Event SuperVision PART 2 - by Nathan Cheever Blogs - 25 April 2019 - 6:32am
In Part 2 the variety of Game Event types are discussed, including what's unique, repeatible, and conditional. Supporting ideas like when they appear and what motiviation does it scratch are factored in.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How I Broke Sekiro Shadows Die Twice - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 25 April 2019 - 6:28am
I did a complete design dive into Sekiro Shadows Die Twice and upon finishing the game, I wanted to share my thoughts on the design.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Overwatch lets players create custom modes with in-game scripting tools

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 April 2019 - 2:48pm

Blizzard is launching what it calls the Overwatch Workshop, a way to make custom game modes for Overwatch by messing with some of the scripting tools the dev team uses to create the game itself. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Get a job: Sony PlayStation is hiring a Sr. Manager, Competitive Gaming

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 April 2019 - 1:38pm

PlayStation is looking for a Sr. Manager of Competitive Gaming to help drive the execution of its esports business. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Respawn CEO: Sticking to seasonal updates better for Apex Legends devs

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 April 2019 - 10:57am

Despite temptations to ramp up content production or hiring after that initial boom, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella says it was best for the team to stick to its original pacing plans for new content ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Nepal lifts short-lived ban on PlayerUnknown†™s Battlegrounds

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 April 2019 - 9:04am

Nepal's Supreme Court has lifted the government†™s ban on PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, ruling that the ban imposed unjustified limits on the freedom of expression guaranteed under its constitution. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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