1. Don’t do it!

Do a mind-experiment. Imagine the system you would be prototyping as you want it in the final version of the game and “play around with it”. Is it fun? Is it useful? Is it pleasant to use?
If not, skip the prototype and the game system. To paraphrase Kyle Gabler, a participant in The Experimental Gameplay project: The prototype will never be more fun/useful then what you see in your head.

See if the game system exist in other games. Check for online flash games as well as the AAA blockbusters. It’s a lot faster and cheaper to buy a game than spend days on programming a prototype.

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I’ve been comparing a number of games lately to prepare for an assignment and thought I’d share the questionnaire I’ve been using.

Most of the questions are intentionally a bit broad but that’s because they are essay questions.

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  1. Read books on game design regularly
  2. Write regular blogs on game design
  3. Chat with other game designers
  4. Design small games revolving around 1-3 simple concepts Read the rest of this entry »

Doing any kind of creative work means that it will be affected by your ideas.
If you are anything like me, you forget most of the ideas you get because you weren’t where you needed to be when you got them.

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The SIG is rolling.

We have a google group that has been quite active lately and now we have a blog as well.

We are still formalizing the structure and procedures and prioritizing the projects and initiatives that we will be starting off with.

Some things that have been discussed are: game design challenges, standard game design document templates, speakers bureau, conference tie-ins and of course the obuquitous discussion on whether game design is art.

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Grétar

Most of us have at some point had to work insanely long days and even had to pull all-nighters. Keeping alert or just awake for those long stretches can be a challenge. But the mistake most of us do is to jack up on coffee and sugar too early.  I’m going to go through the most common stimulants and how they are best used.

Coffee

The king of stimulants. A lot of people drink coffee out of an intense addiction and need it just to wake up. My first advice is to break the addiction. It is a much more useful stimulant if you don’t drink copius amounts of it every day (aside from the health benefits).

It’s most useful effect is that it aside from being a mild stimulant, it reduces the amount of melatonin in the body, which is a sleep hormone. The effects of a single cup of coffee lasts for around 6 hours so don’t drink it late in the evening if you need to be at work the morning after.

Best usage: A cup or two in the late afternoon or early evening if you need to stay up late. More than two cups will have limited, if any effect.

Sugar Read the rest of this entry »

We all love to take meeting minutes don’t we? Well here’s an advice: Do it!

There are quite a few reasons why they should be taken:

  • It gives people that couldn’t make it to the meeting a chance to follow up
  • It tends to make sure the meeting stays on track, especially if you have an agenda as well
  • It’s easier to remember what decisions were made. (How often haven’t you been at a meeting that went round and round so much you couldn’t remember what was decided on an hour later?)

There are also quite a few reasons why you should take them:

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There is an easy way to immediately start finding better solutions to problems and coming up with more good ideas. It involves breaking a habit of laziness that most of us have acquired through the years.

At school we learned that all questions have a right answer and a number of wrong answers. When we find the right answer we are done and can move on to the next task. What most of us did not learn was that this is rarely sufficient outside of academia. Read the rest of this entry »

I just had an amazing synchronicity.

Had been seeking a website with proper information on professional development for game designers with no luck. Decided I had the skills and the mettle to create my own but just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything I decided to drop questions at a couple of forums.

Turns out that some guys over at IGDA (International Game Developer’s Organization) just recently started work on a SIG (Special Interest Group) within the organization, whose purpose would be exactly this: professional development for game designers, along with standardization of best practices and game analysis. (see the full SIG proposal here)

This will be a very interesting project as I believe a lot of these things are being tried for the first time in an open and commonly accessible manner. The industry needs more information sharing among designers. It needs more formalized best practices, it’s needs to give designers more guidance and it definitely needs more networking amongst them.

At the moment this SIG is just getting off the ground but I’ll be sure to keep you up to date as things develop.