Lit A.F. Games Design Newsletter #1

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Hello Game Designers,

Welcome to the first edition of the Lit A.F. Game Design Newsletter!

My hope is for this newsletter to contain the best and most relevant information in the world of game design. Hopefully you find it useful :)
Let's get to it.

Here is what happened this week in game design.

Good Reads

How Smart Game Design Can Turn Ordinary People into Heroes

There's a lot we can pull from all types of gaming mediums. Escape rooms provide an especially interesting design space when it comes to cooperative play and puzzle design. In this article, both escape room designers and veteran players are interviewed about their experiences with this booming hobby.

From designer Scott Nicholson:
You design challenges such that they require different types of skills. You set it up so that things have to be done simultaneously. You divide people by space and introduce elements of communication. Even just taking something that is normally small and making it very large can make it interesting.

Listen Up

Humans Who Make Games - feat. Edmund McMillen (The Binding of Isaac)

This is a brand new podcast hosted by Adam Conover (from Adam Ruins Everything). Adam interviews Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac fame. The discussion ranges from getting their start in their respective fields to more fine grain detail of Edmund's games.

I have a whole new perspective of Isaac after Edmund explained where the inspiration for the 'story' came from. I will refrain from spoiling it here. What was just as interesting in terms of design is Edmund's take on procedural generation. It doesn't have to be at the heart of your game. It's just another tool in your tool belt that can be used to enhance any feature (if it can be implemented appropriately).

FYI the beginning is all about Edmund's history. I do recommend it, but you can skip to 53:00 to just hear the game design discussion.

Watch and Learn

Rewards in Video Games
In this recently released 2017 GDC talk, Travis Day from Blizzard Entertainment discusses what he's learned about reward systems from working on games like World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.

This talk narrates the evolution of the design of those 2 titles. If you have a game with loot drops, this is a must watch video.

A quote from the topic of "Be Generous" to players:
"No design is perfect, we will always have problems to solve. It's better to solve the problem of players having everything they want than trying to solve the problems caused by players being frustrated with stingy reward systems."

Game Juice of the Week

Game: Dead Cells
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, Switch

This is the fast travel system in Dead Cells. What I like about this animation is that it really feels like you are doing some crazy inter-dimensional magic to teleport from one point in space to another. There is a fabulous screen distorting shader while the character curls into a ball. Finally, a flash of light releases the tension and places you softly at your destination.

My one gripe is that the player just kind of appears out of nowhere. There should either be a cool animation or the character appears before the flash is over.

From the Archive

Game Design Concepts
In this section, we look at good resources for game designers from years past that are worth revisiting. It's not the latest info, but a lot of these resources contain tried and true game design concepts.

In this case, we have a free game design course from 2009 by Ian Schreiber. The material is still relevant and each 'class' has been written out in blog form. There's a full syllabus and recommended text to accompany the course.

If you're looking for some foundational material on game theory or just brushing up on game design then this course is a great starting point.

Thanks for reading!
- Olin

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