Game Design

Counterplay Games' Duelyst is going offline for good in February

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 January 2020 - 1:01pm

Duelyst, the 2016 digital card game from Counterplay Games, is going offline for good next month. The news was shared over on the free-to-play game†™s Steam page earlier today. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Hero bans work for some games but aren't a fit for Overwatch, argues Jeff Kaplan

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 January 2020 - 12:18pm

"Sometimes the right design decision for one game, is a terrible decision for another game †" even if the two games are very similar." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

GDC State of the Industry: Game devs shifting focus to next-gen consoles

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 24 January 2020 - 8:57am

Out today and completely free to download, the 2020 State of the Industry Report is packed with useful game industry insights gleaned from surveying nearly 4,000 game industry professionals! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Dev Digest Issue #28 - Geo & Vertex Shaders And Animations, Juice, Optimizing Addressables And Builds, Rendering Effects, Giveaways And Sales - by Mike Marrone Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:39am
Game Dev Digest. The free weekly Unity game dev newsletter. Issue #38. Geo & Vertex Shaders And Animations, Juice, Optimizing Addressables And Builds, Rendering Effects, Giveaways And Sales
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Modularity - by Iggy Zuk Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:30am
Depth through complexity.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sips Happen #7: Coronavirus and it’s impact on China’s tech & gaming ecosystem - by Xavier Rosee Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:28am
Every week, a rundown of the best articles around video games and how to market them. Comments & opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Importance of Presentable Gameplay - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:27am
While many people will talk about aesthetically pleasing games, we're going to talk about how to present your gameplay and why this matters for long term engagement.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How sci-fi survival adventure Aquamarine found its second life - by Patric Fallon Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:27am
After my roguelike-inspired sci-fi adventure failed its first Kickstarter in 2018, I had to regroup and figure out the game's future. By looking to its past and approaching the design with fresh eyes, I could finally see the path it was meant to follow.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Simple Localization System - by Anton Semchenko Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 7:27am
A simple localization system for Unity projects
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Finish Strong

Gnome Stew - 24 January 2020 - 5:00am

Over the last few years, my gaming group has gotten really good at something… finishing campaigns. We have over the last two years and four campaigns been able to bring our campaigns to a satisfying conclusion before moving to the next game. This is in contrast with nearly all my past gaming where we would often just drop campaigns and move on to the next shiny thing. So, I thought I would talk for a bit about how we’ve gotten so good at ending our games well. 

A Good Finish

Our brains have been wired for stories and we know the satisfying feeling of a complete story. A good story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Our brains enjoy the feeling of things being completed. If something must end, otherwise, we are left with a nagging sense of something being incomplete. 

To make this point…we get agitated when other media end abruptly. One of my favorite police procedurals, Life, fell victim to the Writers Strike of 2007. The show, which had a very compelling meta-arc, and several strong character arcs just ended when the show was canceled. The feeling was terrible, I was beyond annoyed.

The same holds true in RPGs. A satisfying campaign comes to some kind of conclusion. But it can be hard to bring a game to a conclusion when you are either bored with it or excited to try something new. But it does not take much to bring your campaign to a conclusion.

Tale of Two Endings

There are two ways that campaigns end. The first, and optimal, is planned. As in the group knows that the conclusion of the current story arc will conclude all the arcs in the game, and the game will have a formal ending. For instance, in my Tales From The Loop game after a number of investigations, the kids made a bold attempt to save one of their mothers and stop one of their aunts from destroying the Loop. When that played out, the game wrapped up nicely with all the story arcs concluded.

The other way campaigns end is spontaneous. At some point, someone in the group or the group as a whole decides that the game should end. There are numerous reasons for this (waining interest, changes in the group, etc). If the decision to end the game had not come it’s likely that the game would have continued past the current story arc. For example, in my Masks game, the end of our “big crossover” event felt like a good time to take a break and switch games, but a new arc could have easily started up after.

Ending Well

Regardless of how you decide to end your campaign, there are some things you need to do in order for it to have a satisfying ending. They are:

Conclude the Current Storyline

Finish playing out the arc you are currently in. Nothing feels less satisfying than to just stop mid-story. 

Wrap up Character Arcs

Bring any character arcs to an end. Some arcs if they are close to being done, will be easy to conclude, while others will be less developed and may need more of a narrative approach on how they conclude. It may be impossible to conclude them all, so try your best. 

Conclude the Meta-Arc

If you have an overarching story arc in your game, you should try to bring it to some conclusion. In a planned ending, this should have been part of your plan, but in a spontaneous ending, this can be much harder and may require some work to get it to fit in your remaining sessions. 

Show What Happens Next

The characters will continue to exist past your time of playing them. Take time to show what their lives will be like after the campaign is over.

Just A Little Patience

Doing all or most of the things above requires time, which means you need some patience in order to get there. Base on the last few years, here are the things we have done that have greatly aided this:

Candid Discussions

My group has built up a lot of trust with one another, and we are honest about how we are feeling about a game. It is welcomed in my group to say that you are starting to lose interest in a game or that the game is “not doing it for you.” This communication, when done early, allows the group to work towards an ending.

Setting Expectations

When it’s time to end the game, I figure out how many sessions, it will take to bring things to a conclusion, and then I communicate that out to the group. This way the group knows that the game is coming to a conclusion and how much time we have to bring it all together.

 Not all arcs and plots are equal, and I want to make sure I finish off the ones that are important to the players and not burn our remaining sessions on ones that people are not interested in. Share1Tweet1Reddit1Email Wish List

I ask the players what things do they need to be concluded before the game ends. Not all arcs and plots are equal, and I want to make sure I finish off the ones that are important to the players and not burn our remaining sessions on ones that people are not interested in. 


Often as we are finishing one game, I am getting the next game ready to run. There is great temptation to just jump to the shiny new thing, but I have over the years been able to resist that call, in part because I know how many more sessions I have to go. To aid that, I don’t talk too much about the new game with the players, as not to tempt them. 

Setting A Campaign Up For A Comeback

I don’t often flat out end a campaign, but rather I try to get the campaign to a place, that if we ever want to come back and play it, that we can. In order to do that, there are a few additional things that need to be done besides how to end well.

Archive all Artifacts

After the last session, I collect all the character sheets, any paper campaign documents, maps, etc and put them into a single folder. That gets filed away. 

Clean up Campaign Notes

My campaign notes are a mix of my prep in OneNote, and the index cards I fill out during play. I make sure that all my index cards digitized and stored in OneNote. I use an app called Office Lens to take pictures and scan my index cards right into OneNote. I then take my index cards and file them with the rest of the other artifacts.

Note to Future Me

The last thing I do, is I write a note to future me from current me. I write down anything that I need to know about the campaign that is not already captured somewhere else. I write down any ideas about where I thought things might go and ideas about the characters and NPCs. This way if I do revive the game, past me has given future me somewhere to start.

Final Curtain

Ending a campaign is satisfying for everyone involved. It requires a little bit of patience and some work but is worth the effort. You and your groups will have fond memories of the great stories you told. 

Do you bring your campaigns to a conclusion or do you drop them and move on to the next new things? What are some of your techniques for ending or wrapping up campaigns? 

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Eternal Doom, Temtem Touryst - by Simon Carless Blogs - 24 January 2020 - 1:53am
The latest highlights include a look at new titles including Doom Eternal, Temtem & The Touryst, as well as pieces about Destiny historians, comedy in games, the state of video games in China, & plenty more besides.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Court rules Nintendo's strict digital pre-order policies don't violate EU laws

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 23 January 2020 - 3:42pm

A consumer rights case kicked off in 2018 has ended for now, with a German judge dismissing accusations that Nintendo†™s strict digital no refund policy violated the EU's Consumer Rights Direction. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rocket League ending MacOS and Linux support in March

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 23 January 2020 - 1:00pm

Rocket League developer Psyonix is backing away from the MacOS and Linux versions of the game, announcing today that both will lose online functionality in early March. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Reflections on Mathematics in Game Design - by Sande Chen Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 8:40am
In this article, game designer Sande Chen explains the importance of learning mathematics in the field of game design.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

From a prototype to one of the biggest idle games in 3 years – postmortem - by Rok Jesenicnik Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 8:24am
Enjoy a postmortem look at development of Gamex Studio's first military game War Clicks!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sips Happen #6: Addiction & Ethics - by Xavier Rosee Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 7:51am
Every week, a rundown of the best articles around video games and how to market them. Comments & opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Creature in the Well Trailer Analysis - Is it My Genre? - by M. Joshua Cauller Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 7:51am
Let's take a look at why Creature in the Well's gameplay trailer captures the games unique genre unlike anything else. Video with transcript included.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Part 5, Putting into play - On organizing thoughts and feelings - by Katarina Gyllenback Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 7:37am
How to organize and direct your thoughts and feelings from a narrative and cognitive perspective in the design of an engaging and dynamic game system. What to keep an eye on when initiating the design process to avoid constraints and pitfalls.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kingdom Hearts III: A Conclusion without a Story - Part 5 - by Joshua Hallaran Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 7:25am
Part 5: Missing Ingredients - What made Final Fantasy & Disney a Perfect Match - This six-part essay analyses Kingdom Hearts III's approach to storytelling, and the lessons that we as developers can learn from it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How we made it: Five Hoops - by Voodoo Games Blogs - 23 January 2020 - 7:25am
The key to great Hyper-casual games is a great team. I discuss how we turned Five Hoops into success, and why your team is the best asset you have.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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