Jul 20

Designer Weekly July20

Busy little week. Articles popping up here there and everywhere. As always, here’s a handpicked selection of posts that all designers should read.

No fancy images/wallpaper this week. Might do some next week as it’s a special occasion…

On with the show.


Cognitive Biases and you. Know your enemy.


Interesting take on how we can use CB to our advantage in game design.


“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” – Frank McCourt


I always did like the little things.


Much of game production is production rather than crafting. It’s an understandable situation- with so many hours in the day to work you have to get the actual game done before you add the flourish, but there are those out there that experience and appreciate those little touches. As a designer you’ll see that some in this thread are obviously part of the core intent. Dan Taylor gave a good talk about level design at the VFS Game Design Expo 2012 where he quoted the work of Sir Christopher Wren. Paraphrased: Make some of the frilly stuff early, because it’s harder to cut work that’s done over work that isn’t.


 ”Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” – Robert Schuller


Working with a live audience


Games are no longer a static entity so much. Once they are out the door and in peoples hands, you can still make fundamental changes. But do you and reap the wrath or the rewards?


“The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.” – John Wooden


The endowment effect


Great observation on a topic that relates to anything numbers based the player runs into, be it ammo count, npc vendor costs or actual money.

Now also on the same topic, but from a non games approach:


“The endowment effect is a reflection of a general bias in human psychology to favour the way things are, rather than the way they could be”


“Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves.” – Zig Ziglar


Dishonored’s multi-faceted, customizable UI.



“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.” – Frank Tyger


How I got my Mom to play Plants Vs. Zombies


PvZ is a great case study for designers. It does all the core features right and secondary features push it to greatness. A must play & read.


“Game design is akin to Zen archery: shoot, then aim” @s_bura



Punchy and useful. There are some tips that are good for dev in general too.


“You don’t add innovation to a company culture, you get out of its way.” – @AdrianCo


The strengths and weaknesses of procedural generation


I remember back during early days of Colin McRae Rally 1 someone came up with an automated rally track generator. It was instantly clear that the hand crafted versions were superior and that to automate it to a successful degree would take a considerable amount of time. CMR 1 – 5 tracks are all meticulously hand crafted. IIRC in 5 there were 96 tracks on average length of 4.4km and each one was polished at a minimum fidelity of every 10cm. They are truly some of the best track-to-mechanic harmonies I’ve ever played.


“The more you invest in the Level Editor, the more it pays back!” @whaHappenToo


The Shape of Design


Not specifically game design, but some interesting thoughts. A much slower, inspirational read if you have the time.


“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King


Free development stuff:


A wiki page with links to free assets of all kinds.


Layered rewards


A quick read, a simple premise: how to layer rewards. This pairs nicely with the link from last week on short, medium and long term objectives.


Slider image by AnneTheLibrarian