Circles is a masterclass in minimalist game design

Anyone should be able to play Circles regardless of age, language, and their experience with videogames. It’s a game that has mastered the art of communicating abstract ideas to players in as minimal a way as possible. A designer’s wet dream, no doubt. At the heart of its success is tying everything in the game to the movement of your mouse. Circles grow larger, shrink, rotate in unison, or otherwise move around the screen according to how you move the cursor. Some may react to how fast you move the cursor, others to which direction it’s moving in, while others care only…


What can architects learn from No Man’s Sky?

Three years after it was initially announced at E3 2013, No Man’s Sky has officially gone gold. Few games in recent memory have created so much buzz. The near-infinite universe that No Man’s Sky offers is plenty reason to be excited but the way Hello Games is creating that universe using procedural generation is equally inspiring. Procedural generation is a type of design methodology in which components or elements are handcrafted and each given unique properties. These components are then fed into a database which generates forms based on a series of rules and regulations put into place by the…


Announcing Issue 8.5, our new digital-only zine

Hello everyone! It’s been six months since our successful Kickstarter, and we’ve been hard at work on our first issue. Thanks to the humbling generosity of our backers, we had the opportunity to disappear and knuckle down for a while, interviewing and designing and editing and quibbling over details. But as we worked, a little side project started to form, a collection of interviews that grew to deserve its own spotlight. We’re calling it Issue 8.5, but it’s really its own unique bud of creative effort. Don’t think of it as a preview of the magazine—more that the work that…


Push Me Pull You’s long stretch to good menu design

Spending time in menus and load screens is often tedious. It can be a time of annoyance and bored Twitter refreshing. Except when it doesn’t have to be. In a blog post from House House, the creators of the recently released competitive game Push Me Pull You, the team described their different approach for the user interface (UI) design of their game’s menus. Instead of a bland menu, House House dreamed of a practically designed UI—one that exists within its own little world. Menus that can even serve as a time for careful reflection, rather than boredom, between the quick wrestling matches of…

Iron Man

Iron Man’s suit designer is now working on actual space suits

All space travel is fiction. Alright, it’s not fake in the “we didn’t go to the moon” sense of the term, but it necessarily involves the creation of tales to justify what remains a riotously expensive undertaking. “Major achievements in space contribute to the national prestige,” American Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara noted in 1961. “This is true even though the scientific, commercial or military value of the undertaking may … be marginal or economically unjustifiable.” In the years since the space race, this calculus is even more complicated. Much of what humans now do in space is quite tedious; waiting…


PlayStation 2, the videogame console from outer space

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// What makes a videogame console successful? Forget about software libraries and units sold, I’m talking about the design of the actual box that you hook up to your TV. At first blush, the Nintendo GameCube seems pretty notable. It’s downright adorable with its purple color scheme, cute miniDVD discs, and stout, blocky profile—and let’s not forget the notorious handle on the back to be used for carrying the console around like a Playskool oil lantern. The GameCube…

Zaha Hadid

An appreciation of Zaha Hadid, modern architecture’s greatest woman

The architect Zaha Hadid, who died in Miami last Thursday at the age of 65, was one of design’s great optimists. Only an optimist could dream up the billowing curves of Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Center, which sprout from the ground, rise like sine curves, and blend into one another without ever meeting at right angles, and think “Yes, this building can live unburdened by earth’s gravity.” Only an optimistic could spend decades drawing fantastical jagged futurescapes—impressive works of art in their own right—while breaking ground on precious few projects. Only an optimist, one imagines, could make headway in a male-dominated…


Documentary outlines how Cities: Skylines is being used to plan real cities

Having enjoyed a brief sneak-peek at Austin, Texas’ SXSW art and technology festival last weekend, My Urban Playground is an upcoming documentary from game publisher Paradox Interactive that tells the story of popular city-building game, Cities: Skylines (2015), and the fans who are using it to plan real-world architecture projects. Set over the two years leading up to and following the game’s release, the documentary is planned to cover how architects, politicians, and fans of the game have come together to create new real-world building initiatives. Additionally, the film will also feature interviews with United Nations development group UN-Habitat, which helps struggling…


Artists pick out their favorite critters from upcoming game Necropolis

It is well-known that upcoming dungeon-delving game Necropolis looks ludicrously stylish. Its stark angles, moody lighting, and cartoonishly exaggerated characters give it an aura that lies somewhere between art deco and fairy tale; as if Red Riding Hood were the emcee for a big-band show. It’s a striking aesthetic, and it does an admirable job of setting Necropolis apart from the gothic horror of its major influence, From Software’s Dark Souls (2011). However, part of what’s allowed Dark Souls to be so successful is its memorable cast of baddies, their gruesome appearances helping them to linger in the minds of its players. Necropolis, too,…