10 Jun

DANIEL COOK ON GAME DESIGN

roadnottaken

 

Daniel Cook, of Spry Fox games is a brilliant and thoughtful game designer. As a player, I love his games Triple Town and Road Not Taken (pictured). If you haven’t played them, run don’t walk. They’re both on Steam, as well as many other platforms.

I think of him as a game designer’s designer. His games are mechanically innovative, elegant and rich. They reward repeated play and deep engagement yet are produced with a small team and modest resources.  Hopefully at some point if he has time I’ll have him on the show for a conversation but for those who are unfamiliar with him these are some great, rich resources to dig into first.

His blog, at Lost Garden, is a treasure trove. Start with this piece about Loops and Arcs and then wander around. You won’t be disappointed.

The thing that motivated me to write this post are two video taped talks he gave. The first is a sort of crash-course on analytical thinking about game design that I think is wonderful and invaluable.

It’s pitched toward beginner designers and offers a series of powerful lenses through which to look at, dissect and improve your game designs. If you get nothing else from this post, watch this one.

The second is about Designing Original Games:

In it he discusses some principles for trying to create mechanically original game designs and the advantages of this approach vs the more incremental ‘10% better’ approach we often encounter. I found it very provocative and interesting and hopefully you will too.

09 Apr

NewbQuest Ep. 6: Steve Swink, Game Designer of Scale

In this episode I interviewed Steve Swink who is currently working on a game called Scale. Steve is a game designer, author and teacher whose thinking I respect very much. Having taught, written and made games Steve offers a unique perspective which encompasses both the academic and applied views of game design and combines formal rigor with practical, down to earth application. His book Game Feel provides an excellent examination of this often casually applied term including breaking down elements of interactive experience like frame rate and it’s relationship to how responsive a game feels in granular detail.

Steve’s current project is called Scale and it’s a game in which the player can make objects in the world larger and smaller to solve puzzles. Imagine scaling up a vending machine so you could crawl inside it and pull out what you need and you’ll get a bit of an idea of some of the experiences possible. It was a great pleasure to speak with Steve and I hope that you enjoy listening in.

You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review.

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

08 Aug

NewbQuest Ep. 5: Kellee Santiago of OUYA, thatgamecompany

In this episode I interviewed Kellee Santiago, now of micro-console OUYA, formerly of thatgamecompany.  Kellee’s work with thatgamecompany along with her public thought has been a real inspiration to me in thinking about the potential of games as a medium. Her emphasis on creating aesthetically beautiful, welcoming and generous experiences at thatgamecompany with Jenova Chen really felt like something fresh and unique in the field of gaming and make a powerful concrete case for an inclusive and broad vision of what games can be and who they can appeal to.  The fact that her most well known titles Fl0w, Flower and Journey broke out of the indie / art game ghetto and were made in partnership with Sony for the consumer oriented Playstation and the broad audience that represents still amazes me.

Today Kellee has joined the team at OUYA, the company behind the Kickstarter funded living room console with an overtly democratic and indie friendly message. This seems a natural fit considering her emphasis on broadening the scope of the video game medium and her work producing, leading and organizing at thatgamecompany.  She’s been involved in bringing some very intriguing titles to the OUYA platform, including That Dragon Cancer a game which portrays a family in their fight with their child’s cancer diagnosis. I really enjoyed speaking with her and I hope you enjoy listening in.

You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review.

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

You can find Kellee Santiago at her website, on Twitter at @kelleesan and follow her work at OUYA at the OUYA developers portal.