On Game Design

GDC 2017 Slides

Posted by in Game Design

I had the incredible pleasure of being a speaker at this year’s Game Developers Conference where I gave a 30 minute lecture entitled “Snap To Character: Building Strong Player Attachment Through Narrative”. The video itself is on the vault, but I’ve also uploaded my slide deck for your perusal.

Temple Dash at Gen Con 2016

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I’m excited to announce that in addition to speaking at Gen Con this year, I’ll also be bringing the prototype version of my first board game “Temple Dash” (working title) to the Gen Con 2016 First Exposure Hall. Temple Dash is an improvisational storytelling board game for 4 players. As you play, your surroundings will change, ghostly figures will appear then vanish into the mists, and friendly faces will become deadly foes. You must overcome these mysterious trials using only your pack of junk and your quick wits! Want to know…read more

Gen Con 2016

Posted by in Game Design

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking at Gen Con 2016 on a number of exciting panels! Registration is now open, and my schedule is as follows: Thursday, August 4th 11:00 AM: SEM16100232 – Starting Out: Getting Into The Games Industry 1:00 PM: SEM16100200 – Beyond Combat Friday, August 5th 11:00 AM: SEM16100203 – Crossing The Divide Between Tabletop & Digital Saturday, August 6th 11:00 AM: SEM16100237 – Theme & Mechanics, Context is Everything 2:00 PM: SEM16100240 – Working on Licensed Properties Sunday, August 7th 10:00 AM: SEM16100209 –…read more

Breaking In: Part 2

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Getting into the game industry. Part 2. A Call to Action. Welcome to Part Two of my breaking into the game industry series! If you missed Part One, you can find it here. You don’t have to read Part One to understand Part Two, but I’ll be referencing it frequently.  You can expect this article to be less of a personal story and more of a collection of suggestions that you can actually act on to make your journey into the game industry an easier one. 1. Make games. That’s it. Thanks for reading. No, I mean…read more

Breaking In: Part 1

Posted by in Game Design

Getting into the game industry. Part 1. Love it or leave it. Every so often I’m asked by someone how I got into the game industry, and how they can do the same. There are dozens of fantastic articles out there already on this topic, but I figured I’d write up my own experiences anyway. The more info out there, the better. Also, please keep in mind that this article is just my own personal experience and path into the games industry. Your results will vary. This article is Part…read more

Can I Borrow A Feeling?

Posted by in Game Design

A few months ago I listened to an episode of The Game Design Roundtable that focused on the theme vs. mechanics debate. I recommend listening to it as I’ll reference it a decent amount below. I’ve been thinking about the discussion and trying to put my finger on why it continues to bother me. Here’s the problem: I think the Theme vs. Mechanics discussion is fallacious. I believe it’s missing an incredibly important third piece that changes the relationship between the two: Feeling. I strongly believe that a game designer’s…read more

Lessons kids have taught me

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For nine years I taught a Youth Theatre Workshop as a summer job in Bermuda with a very good friend of mine, Daniel Frith. I was eventually lucky enough to get a job designing games aimed at a similar age-group and my experience translated pretty well. In this article, I’ve collected some of the things I learned working with kids, including some of my experiences designing educational games. Okay, here we go. Kids are smart. Seriously. Starting with a strong one here. In fact, if you don’t have time to…read more

Elegance & Engagement

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Extra Credits recently aired a great episode about depth and complexity in games. If you haven’t watched it yet, go do so. At the end of the video, the host made the statement that most designers hold elegance in design up as the Holy Grail of their craft (mostly true) when they should instead focus on player engagement. In this article, I hope to explain why these two concepts are in reality one and the same. I believe that elegance supports and protects the engagement level of the game. I argue that elegant…read more

Mechanical Dissonance and setting player expectations

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One of the most important parts of a game designer’s job is to help the player understand exactly what the game expects them to do. To properly enact their will upon the game through its mechanics, the player has to know what goal they are trying to achieve and how. If your mechanics are giving opposing messages to the player, it can lead to a lot of confusion and unsatisfying feedback. No one wants to feel like they’re playing a game wrong. I’ve been playing a decent amount of Hitman:…read more