Archive for May, 2008

games & mathematics

“Playing four 15-minute sessions of board games such as snakes and ladders can improve a child’s mathematical abilities significantly, according to a study of four and five-year-olds. And the improvement in numerical tests is still measurable nine weeks later.”,,2267895,00.html


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more or less… on simplicity

“Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential”

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graphic design principals of good design

Chuck Green on commercial ‘graphic’ designers, with many parallels for game design.

edited with comments;

Design is more than meets the eye … The purpose of design is to communicate an idea. It is as much, if not more, about function as it is about looks. It is as much intellectual and visceral as it is visual. If you don’t have a clear, well designed message, you don’t have a design. Design is marketing, marketing is design”

The purpose of game design is to provide an enjoyable experience. Focus on a clear defined core experience as a base.

Design is about communicating benefits… No matter what you’re selling or giving away, if I am your prospect, I want to know what’s in it for me. I have hard-earned money or time to invest and I rarely part with either without the promise of some return. Are you going to entertain me? Educate me? Inspire me? Solve my problems?”

Is the core experience something that players want, will identify and enjoy?

Design is not about designers … The good designer pleads “Create a design that answers your client’s needs.” The bad designer commands “Don’t be an idiot—design something that’ll look good in your portfolio.”

You are rarely, if ever be the target audience. Understand what the experience your audience will appreciate.

Design is not an ocean it’s a fishbowl … Design and marketing ideas are not always interchangeable—be careful about the principles you apply and how you apply them.

High concepts and designs are not the same thing.

Design is creating something you believe in … The saying goes something like this: “great advertising will kill a poor product faster than no advertising at all.” The same is true with design—good design will attract an audience faster than poor design. …Step away rather than compromise your values.”

Form over function leads to shallow experiences, function without engaging form is a dry game. Good function is the bedrock of game design.

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mystery and mis-direction

Valerian to Boy in The Book of Dead Days, by Marcus Sedgwick (fiction) on the 5 principles of a magician or illusionist;

  • Mystery
  • Preparation
  • Mis-direction
  • Practice
  • (natural) Skill

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you have 10 minutes

Ten minutes to grab the player, teach them and reward them or let them get something back from the game before their attention wanders off.

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perfection, when there is nothing left to take away

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Antoine de Saint Exupéry

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reward categories

  • Currency rewards: the acquisition of a game resource that can be spent represents a fairly universal reward system…
  • Rank Rewards: the player gains benefits from acquiring points towards an eventual step up in rank.
  • Mechanical Rewards: such as increases in stats that the player can feel the effect of.
  • Narrative rewards: a little narrative is effective for certain players as a reward.
  • Emotional rewards: when the player feels they have done something for someone in the game.
  • New Toys: anything new that can be experimented with is a ‘new toy’.
  • New Places: are a mimicry reward for players driven to explore
  • Completeness: achieving completeness (chasing 100% for instance) can be a reward in itself.
  • Victory: defeating a challenging foe (or a boss).

(This is stolen/paraphrased from the blog Only a Game) via Andrew Chen

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