Games really have infinite expressive power, but there’s a caveat to that, and it’s a tremendous caveat,” Romero said. “You cannot transmit a feeling that you do not have. If you are trying to make a game about something and you have not tried to feel what those people felt, and do what those people have done, your game will fail.
A designer/scientist does not “express himself”. We come up with a process that we think may produce some result (interesting, illuminating), carry out that procedure, then with fresh eyes look at the outcome to judge its actual result. Is it what we were expecting? Do we need to tweak the process? We must be able to honestly see and report what is there in order to provide the feedback that advances our knowledge and our art.
I’ve been meaning to post these for a while- I read a lot of game design stuff while working on Rubicon. Here’s some of the stuff that I found to be particularly useful/insightful/interesting.
- “Ten Things Every Game Needs” – Magic the Gathering is a wonderfully heavily-designed game and Mark Rosewater’s column “Making Magic” provides a thoughtful window into the process of its creation and maintaining its long-term health. “Restrictions breed creativity!” is the mantra of the day.
- “Resolutions” – Rosewater, “Making Magic”.
- “Juice it or lose it” – A talk aptly demonstrating the power of tiny reactive effects and how it can bring a game to life.
- “Video Games and the Human Condition” – A talk by Jonathan Blow. Goes over developer “best practices” on how to make a game compelling to play and then ethically questions the use of such tactics. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
- “Bow N*****” – Personal narrative of play experience of Jedi Outcast. Super-intense duel, exploits, social norms/rituals in multiplayer. (Content warning: racial slurs)
- “Conflicts in Game Design” – Another talk by Blow, how a game’s premise & its mechanics interact.
- “Figures: They Speak For Themselves” – from the tumblr of Dresden Codak. Although it’s not directly game-related, reading Aaron Diaz’s posts on visual design show the right sort of attitude (read: insanely meticulous) in what it takes to carefully craft an experience for an audience.
Edit (July 2019): Dylan from a program at the Salt Lake City Children’s Network recommends this post for additional resources for beginner game designers. There’s a few broken links, but has a lot of information about careers in games. Thanks, Dylan!
I want ship modification to be a major aspect of Rubicon. To that effect, I’ve been working to put together a customization system for the game. It’s harder than it sounds! How do you approach putting together a balanced economy of choices?
By looking to see how other people have done it, of course. I tried to boil down the system of provided resources, how players can allocate those resources, and the resulting in-game effects for Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries. This is what I came up with:
I’d like to ask you about tech moments about your game –
in previous letter, you said you’re using Blitzmax solution to build game for Windows, Linux and Mac. Does it support Android/ iOS? Why did you choose exactly this tool? Why BASIC, not C++/Java/C#?
Thank you so much.
A couple of reasons, Alex.
Controls are hard to get right. Here is a rather lengthy description of how I developed the scheme for RUBICON:
First, I needed to explicitly see what you DO when playing this kind of game wrote out two overarching objectives: shoot enemies and don’t get shot. The first is accomplished by interacting with those enemies via bullets that come from some yourself at some angle. The second is accomplished by moving out of danger areas. Challenges arise when these two conflict; you need to simultaneously be in a position that does not contain bullets while trying to fill their position with bullets.