The problem with videogames that don’t trust their players

Imagine that you’ve started a new level in a game that sets the scene for endless opportunities. A new environment riddled with context clues that allow the player to consider their options on how to proceed—until an uninvited UI prompt coddles their decision-making and shatters the illusion of choice. This is the problem that Luis Antonio, creator of the upcoming Twelve Minutes, presents through his examination of the recently-released Hitman. His game is about creating a dynamic environment that responds to the player. The game is about a man who is trapped in a time loop of 12 minute intervals, where the…

Luna Antonio

How babies can help teach game design

There are many different types of people to consider when making a videogame and a lot can be learned by discovering their needs. There are those that don’t normally play games, children, as well as the elderly, but there’s one group that’s easy to dismiss, if only because they seem too young: babies. Babies themselves are constantly learning new things and conveying their thoughts and feelings in a way only they can. Observing the way they learn and applying that to game design can be incredible beneficial, as a child learning about the world is similar to a player interacting with a new…


Ancient India: The Birthplace of Modern Game Design

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel Ancient India produced some of the oldest and longest surviving games in history, and though the country’s videogame creators face modern day challenges, its contributions to game design are undeniable. They’ve gone by many different names and variations, but games like Chess, Chutes and Ladders, Parcheesi, and even the six-sided die are all believed to have originated in ancient India. Mostly created during a turbulent and formative time in the country’s history, the nature of these games gives a better understanding of the ideas, values, and social climate surrounding them.…


Finals Fantasy creates game design lesson plans anyone can use

As tablets continue to move into schools and games like Minecraft (2011) are repurposed to educate, the idea of gamification, or using games to teach students about the world, has been gaining popularity as of late. However, as an increasingly diverse artistic medium of its own, others are developing new ways for students to learn about games themselves. Described as a series of “speculative projects for game art students,” Finals Fantasy has gathered together a small group of notable artists, educators, and critics to challenge and expand how game design is taught. (Oh, and so you know, Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren…


What effect do different drugs have on the Mario Maker levels you create?

Let’s face it, Mario doesn’t make much sense. He’s an Italian plumber living in a fantasy mushroom world which is populated by living toadstools and constantly under attack from a turtle dragon. Fans usually excuse this psychedelic setting out of an appreciation for the series’ gameplay and an exhaustion with how often it’s brought up by jokesters, but that doesn’t mean the topic isn’t worthy of discussion. Many have attempted to explain Mario’s weirdness through careful dissection, but others prefer a different approach. Perhaps the series’ most iconic power-up, the super mushroom allows Mario to grow larger and take an…


Scale is exposing the challenges of scaling videogames

Scale is a puzzle game with a straightforward elevator pitch: “You wield a device that can make any item any size.” This is a popular pitch. It earned the game $108,020 in funding from over 5,000 backers during its Kickstarter campaign. Steve Swink, Scale’s creator, subsequently created an alpha version of the game and has now written about what he’s learned in an illuminating update. Swink’s post helpfully addresses the challenges of scaling (excuse the pun) from a demo to an actual game. Things that worked in the former may not be as compelling in the latter. The growing size…


Why is Rocket League’s jumping so much fun?

Rocket League is a game that is concerned with a great many things, but verisimilitude is most definitely not one of them. To wit, here’s an excerpt from Psyonix president Dave Hagewood’s excellent interview with Gamasutra about the game’s jumping mechanics: Designing Rocket League‘s rocket-boosting mechanic was an interesting process; because it was so much more emergent than other games that we’ve worked on. Usually, we start out with a very concrete plan of what you want to do, but in this case we really started out with just a very simple mechanic: cars that jump. We like cars that can…