Saturday, August 4, 2012

Good post on principles of game design

Here's a post from with some great principles of game design.  The beginning of the article goes into a historically-sourced explanation/defense of modern games, which is interesting, but not the most salient point for me.

What did ring true was later on, when the author (I couldn't find a name) laid out seven principles of good game design, which I quote here:

  1. Don't knock players out. 
  2. Don't make it easy for the leader to increase their lead. 
  3. Make catching up to the leader relatively easy. 
  4. Avoid kingmaking. 
  5. Give players important decisions to make. 
  6. Give players difficult decisions to make. 
  7. Give players something to think about constantly.
A game that does all of these things at once would be a good game indeed.  The article points out at some length, correctly, that while decisions should be important and difficult, this does not mean they should be complex, and they should especially not be iterative, such that there's a branching tree of possibilities that you need to track down.  The author suggests that randomness is a good solution for this; I think that's generally true, but you need still to obey rule #5.  If there's too much randomness, then the decisions become unimportant, and luck reigns.

Anyway, good things to keep in mind.  Maybe we designers should make a motivational poster with something like this on it to hang over our workbenches.

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