The fourth entry in the Reverse Design series takes a look at all the design decisions that went into the classic FPS Half-LIfe. Half-Life revolutionized the level design of shooters, but it also inaugurated an important new era in the history of game design. Get started here.
The third entry in the Reverse Design series takes a look at all the design decisions that went into the SNES classic Super Mario World. In doing so, we discovered design strategies that Nintendo used in many of their classic games--and which they still use today! Discover the challenge, cadence and skill theme, and numerous design techniques that went into the making of a composite game. Start with page one, here.
An introdcution 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. 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.
Casual games have introduced a number of brilliant design ideas into a trade that has been dominated by hardcore designers for so long. One of those design ideas was primary exploration--a different way of structuring learning curves in games to make them appeal to casuals and hardcores alike. Identifying and implementing primary exploration is no easy feat, however. This article explains the what and the why of it.
Why do we love to level up? Is it just a sick joke of an addiction perpetrated upon us by lazy developers? The Forum says no, and looks into the phenomenon of "acceleration flow," which explains how many of the classic level-up systems grabbed our attention with cleverly designed structures that tickle our psychology. Examines classic series such as Final Fantasy, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Disgaea, and more. Part Two deals with an experimental design to test this hypothesis in a more rigorous way.
More than 80 gamers, devs, and us writer types piled into a few floors in a high rise in Center City Philly to talk about games, game development, and the industry for most of a Saturday. Highlights included "brogrammers," Chinese Internet speakeasies, and Hal Larsson's First Law of Game Difficulty, coined on-scene. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Read the rest.
Eight teams have 45 hours to create working prototypes of games; awards are given in several categories. The real story is the participants of the Jam, and their incredibly infectious love of making games.