After attending today’s game design meetup, I felt inspired to post about the subject.  The topic was ‘Mini-games’ where a fellow designer Graham Jans put together a framework for understanding Mini-games.  I loved the thinking but I felt that talking just about mini-games was limiting.  I felt that when mini-games are done well, they blend into the background but when done poorly, they come into focus as an obvious mini-game.  What jumped out at me was the examples of mini-games that were successful were thought of as part of the larger game experience.  So if you consider the mini-games as part of the whole, and you then consider the meta-games are part of the whole, you are just left with transitions of modality within the larger game context.  From this vantage point, all of a sudden I felt that all modal mechanics began be candidates for these transitions and it’s more the nature of the transitions that are as important as the modalities themselves.  If I haven’t stopped reading yet, feel free to continue the theoretical romp in the full post.

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A Romp Into Dawn of Thrones V2

Posted: November 14, 2010 in Game Design, Games

A big special thanks goes out to Brooks, Clark and Richard for their patience and great stamina to pound through another version of my Twilight Imperium board game mod ‘Dawn of Thrones’.  I took no pictures unfortunately, but if I had, they would look a lot like the picture above.  The game went much better this time and we cut our TI game play time in half with the new rules.  For those board game geeks out there, I’ll be posting my V2 rules shortly after I’ve cleaned them up.  Thanks again to the players!

The Control Horizon

Posted: November 13, 2010 in Game Design, Games

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - nintendo wallpaper

What is it about Mario games that allows them to span 20 years with their control schemes relatively intact and their concepts only slightly evolved?  Why is classic Mario more popular than the Mario traveling between worlds in Galaxy?

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QBR (Quick Book Review) – Federations

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Books

Federations is a collection of short stories by various contemporary science fiction writers.  Overall, I found it greatly enjoyable.  While I was tempted to leave things at that, I guess a little more information would be helpful.  Its twenty-odd stories about various aspects of large galactic federations explore many interesting ideas, worlds, characters and cultures.  Not the hardest of Sci-fi, but a sweet spot between space opera and work that takes itself more seriously.

I have a rant I must rant.  It is about the diversity of emotion within games and how we can evoke something more than ‘smug’ superiority.

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The Two Sides of Play

Posted: June 16, 2010 in Art, Games

I’m sure others have said it better and said it more often but it seems to me that there are fundamentally only two sides to something, the light side and the dark side.  Derived from the day and the night, the eternal cycle gives us one of the largest fundamental dichotomies of our existence.  While there are nuances, structures and sophisticated forms, the fundamental idea of light and dark permeate so much of our art, story telling and play.  While obvious and fundamental to us all, it has been a bit of a journey of mine to explore this idea over last few weeks.

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What a game is

Posted: May 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Please forgive my academic indulgence:

Flow is a feeling of escape and timelessness

Experiencing flow is fun

Play is an activity in the pursuit of fun

A toy is an artifact to facilitate play

A puzzle provides goals to facilitate play

A game establishes relationships through play

Some puzzles are toys

Some games are puzzles