The entire Reverse Design series is now in print and universal eBook form from CRC Press! The new editions are significantly revised, professionally edited, and expanded with new content. Click the link above to get a preview!
My new series, The Game Design Extracts, is now on YouTube. You can check it out there. I've also launched a Patreon to fund the new project.
The sixth entry in the Reverse Design series. This book takes as its thesis that Diablo 2 takes the fundamental design structure of action games, and recreates it in the context of a procedural RPG. In doing so, it gives fascinating examples of how to use different types of randomness, how to implement roguelike and classical RPG ideas in real time, and how to keep players entertained (for more than a decade!) when all they're really doing is grinding for levels and gear. It's a fascinating game, and a great help in learning about game design math and player psychology.
The fifth entry in the Reverse Design series. We examine all the design decisions that went into Final Fantasy 7, one of the most critically controversial games of all time. It's also a deeply misunderstood game, both by its critics and admirers. We'll see how the FF7 designers made a game that was deeply conscious of its place in RPG history, and one which had a clear goal, which it achieved spectacularly.
The fourth entry in the Reverse Design series. We examine how Half-Life changed the design of the FPS, but also how it changed the design process for all videogames by redefining the way that content could be delivered, by inaugurating the set piece style of design and changing videogames forever.
I have updated Reverse Design: Super Mario World to its second version. You can find out how to get a new copy if you have already purchased in the article. Also, we have YouTube vids now!
The next chapter in the Reverse Design series. We spent 65,000 words and more than 300 pictures explaining the design decisions that make Super Mario World a classic. In the process, we figured out the tools that Nintendo used to structure many of their best games.
An introduction to a theoretical history of videogame design. This article works as a good intro to the upcoming Reverse Design: Super Mario World, explaining the historical context into which Super Mario World fits. It also deals with the rest of mainstream game design history, dividing it into three distinct periods. You can read more here.
The Forum's attempt to deconstruct all of the design decisions that make Chrono Trigger a classic game is now up! Chrono Trigger is a great game--a lot of people agree on that. But is Chrono Trigger still worthy of examination? We think so. More than a decade later we looked at it and saw some of the slyest, most ingenious craftsmanship in any game ever. Take a look. Also, we have an ebook version of the piece you should see. It's pretty; you can see previews here.
An attempt to reverse-engineer all of the design decisions that made Final Fantasy 6 a classic. There are eight pages in all, although page one will tell you all you need to know about the project. Page two deals with how to design (not just write) a game story. Page three is about how the designers balanced quests, story, and combat, and also about how those designers used an ingenious technique to make the game feel more artistically complete. Page four is about how the design team managed to make 14 characters, and make them all interesting. Page five is a Sociology of NPCs, in which a new form of irony, unique to videogames, emerges. Page six is a look at the design of the level-up system, and page seven a look at the design of the dungeons and how they're rather antithetical to the "set-piece" design era we live in today. Page eight is a summary, a best-of-design-lessons list, and a plea! Help us make more of these reverse designs.
This post attempts to explain why it's so fun to level up, culminating in a hypothesis of flow unique to level-up systems. The first half of the post explains what acceleration flow is, what it's like for the player experiencing it, and how players actually go about getting there. Read about the acceleration flow hypothesis.
You can skip to 2 part here..