Game design

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The Value of Value

It’s April Fools’ day, and as is customary, Guild Wars 2 used the occasion to play a few pranks on their players.

It was … enlightening, if you forgive me the pun.

Not because all player characters had the arms outstretched, donned pilot caps and made “Vroooom, vrooom” noises when walking around.1

It was the completely desaturated, sepia-tinted environment. It gave me literal headaches.

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Stereotypes

Created for an interactive exhibit for the “Researcher’s Night”, the game challenges the stereotypes we have as soon as we see a person.

The Art of Modern Games

Images have always been used to transport ideology, and it isn’t that different in games.

Case in point, because I just recently stumbled over concept art for Modern Combat 5. I don’t play these games. But what the concept art, though technically brilliant, tells you about the mindset of the developers behind the game, is quite … interesting.

Have a look here, and then observe a few things, especially regarding the character design:

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7 Game Design Rules that Apply to Therapy Games (as well)

My current job/civilian service has given me the unique opportunity to have a look at a variety of therapy games that have been designed for children’s neurorehabilitation. Most of those games come with specialised input devices.

As a matter of fact, it’s usually the input devices that come with games. Too often, the games seem to have been created as an afterthought of the device, and too often, those games have good intentions, but fail to deliver.

In order to be aware of those problems myself, I decided to make a list of my observations and how they could be mitigated.

The following points do not intend to discredit the work of all the people that designed and programmed the therapy games mentioned, it should merely discuss some problems that can occur and should be addressed when designing new games. Of course, that mostly means me, so I don’t fall into those pitfalls myself.

Common Pitfalls and their Resolutions

First of all, it has to be said that if you’re tasked with creating a therapy game for children, you have quite a challenge to overcome. Children are one of the most demanding audiences, and they will have no problems picking your game apart at the seams when they feel like it. They will feel most inclined to do so when you give them reasons. Like creating incoherent game worlds. A running dog that has to avoid exploding mushrooms by jumping whenever boing poked in the belly with a huge hand and meanwhile collecting diamonds that hang suspended in thin air?

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Magic Castle Game Concept

Concepts done for the Zurich University of Arts ZHdK. This serious game aimed at children uses Lokomat, a driven gait orthosis, as its primary input device. With a secondary input device for the upper extremities, the player is able interact with the objects of the game. The game should increase motivation for children during their physical therapy on Lokomat.

Blogs for Game Design Students

And as long as we’re at the lists for game design students, this one might come in handy as well: A list of 20 game design blogs that students will love:

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ID: Me, You (and everybody else)

Aimed at teenagers and specifically designed for the use at schools, this educative Serious Game focusses on a topic that even a lot of adults struggle with: Bullying.

To be introduced in class, the game intends to raise awareness of the topic and teach empathy to the students. During gameplay, players take on different roles and are able to experiment. However, they might see themselves confronted with the consequences of their actions later on. The game exploits the strong points of video games: being possibility machines.

Acquired Abilities: Playing Games as Cultural Skill

Sometimes, as a game designer, you tend to forget how well versed you are in your medium. You tend to think that all people are able to plunge into a virtual world and stroll around. You could not be more wrong.

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Social Mechanics: Raph Koster on Multiplayer Games

Since we will have to program a multiplayer game this semester, this presentation (PDF) by Raph Koster could come in handy: Social Mechanics: The Engines Behind Everything Multiplayer.

He held the presentation at the GDC, and it collects different game mechanics present in multiplayer games. Guess we could inspire ourselves with that.

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Pissing People Off

… is, apparently, something Tale of Tales are rather good at. Robert Yang has a neat timeline of the current events. And it is not the first time they make people angry.

Of course, you can debate the value of their provocations, you can debate their contribution to game culture –

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Work in Progress

The lookout isn’t too shabby, though. Now for some gameplay, please?

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The Quest

Heather returned to the states, her father ill with cancer. Alone and bored, I remained in London to finish my final year at Goldsmiths. From the sleep of childhood and all its aimless memories, an old computer game returned to haunt me.

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Seeds for Game Ideas

Designed by Christophe Berg with artwork by Liselore Goedhart, Game Seeds is a unique meta game:

Game Seeds is a card game designed to spice up your brainstorm sessions on Character and Game Design.

Game Seeds are wild free-spirited tiny creatures that you can play with, combine, hack and get inspired by to bring new characters and game ideas to life.

The object of Game Seeds: design a Hero, design a Sidekick and design a Game by playing with a deck of cards.

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Tracing the Steps of an Old Lady

The Graveyard by Tale of Tales is different, no one denies that. Is it a game, though?

Greg Costikyan argues that

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Takayoshi Sato on Silent Hill

This is the article that got me into wanting to play Silent Hill 2:

In the ongoing evolution of computer games towards a mature art form, we see many blips on the radar that fade away after some time. But there is one game that never goes away. Silent Hill 2. There’s something about that game that is so intensely inspiring, beautiful and moving that it continues to give hope to everyone on this path.

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