Feb 03

Designer Weekly

This weeks DW has to be dedicated to all the people out there who are being simply just fantastic right now. You all know who you are.

It’s designer weekly time again. The (somewhat miss-titled) collection of links from recent days on design issues. During the year when #Designertip was 1 a day, every day, I got a couple of comments on ‘did yesterday’s/today’s DesignerTip relate to issue X at work?’. The short answer is no and a longer answer would be dull. In a similar vein, the designer weekly is quite truly what passes by that catches my eye. So even in these transitional days, let’s begin with self-sufficiency from a man who spent 2 years in a cabin in the woods.


Henry David Thoreau on Defining Your Own Success

@RaphLife tweeted this link out so hat-tip to you good sir. It oddly comes into my life at one of those times when I’m listening the most. Life interjection aside, there is a nice design lesson in Thoreau’s words; Providing the player with clear and attainable goals, and providing recognition of achievement thereof delivers success to the player.


“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”- Henry David Thoreau


How to be a better games designer

Quite rightly doing the rounds this week is the concise and comprehensive article. There’s a lot here, so don’t tl:dr it. There’s no crib notes I can make and it echo’s my thoughts on the subject aptly. I am reminded of the 3 E’s. Be Effective, Be Efficient and Be Economical. Yes, it IS somewhat crass and bubbled down wisdom delivered on some training course somewhere – but as a designer it’s actually a touchstone you can gauge any design effect by and in turn it’s worth. Trying to get across the unspoken backstory about an unrequited love, how best to flare the crosshair when you fire or how to monetize a cat in a bag? The third E people can mistake for meaning ‘skimp’ or ‘do it cheaply’ whereas it means expend as much time, money and effort into the issue as is appropriate to achieve it’s realization.


“It’s not about time, it’s about choices. How are you spending your choices?”
- Beverly Adamo


I don’t get it

A good collection of design devices to instruct the player, subtly. I’m reminded of the videos shown – that halt play – when you acquire a new skill in Far Cry 3. In the moment you watch the action (it loops), read the text, grok and click OK. It was only whilst post play musing that I wondered at the debate that happened around putting them in, how much deliberation, who’s feathers ruffled. It is a less elegant method that placing the player in a position to immediately perform that skill move yet it is quite Effective and Economical and really doesn’t break Flow at all.


“I want everything exactly like it was when I was 12 years old except improved in some undescribed way. I’ll tell you when you got it right”
- @zarawesome


Top 10 bad levels

I’d normally skip including this sort of list, however I recently played a title that DID have the most annoying trial&error loop that just grief-ed me for far to long. Although annoyingly it isn’t on this list.



Image by rumpleteaser.