Game Design Misconception 3: Planning Stifles Improv

Welcome back to my series on game design misconceptions! Today’s topic is the idea that if one plans too much it can get in the way of being spontaneous and in the moment.

I started noticing this misconception a handful of months ago when I started acting as Game Master (here forth contracted GM’ing) in Dungeons & Dragon (5th Edition). It’s been pretty exciting (especially as a new way to put game design skills to work in a very immediate sense), but whenever I start up a conversation with an experienced player about GM’ing I always get this advice:

Don’t overplan.

and it always struck me as a little strange.

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Review: Vertiginous Golf

Vertiginous Golf is a digital mini-golf game. Real world golf is a game all about a player knowing how to hit a ball to get it to a destination. Players weigh how much strength, which direction, and moment by moment to attempt to get the best result for each swing. Those that train or practice, do so in hopes of becoming more consistent in their swings, cleverer in their routing and more accurate in their timing.

Considering these three skills, digital golf games are at a disadvantage when it comes the the pursuit of a consistent swing. To compensate, most digital golf games attempt the increase the depth of engagement with the other skills. For example, a filling power meter doubles down on timing skill checks, and adding more ways for wind and terrain to influence the ball adds to spatial skill checks.

Vertiginious Golf, on the other hand, embraces the digital medium and adds unique elements and level designs only possible there. For example, players can rewind their shots to attempt a different angle or timing or by using the influenza bug, they can influence the movement of the ball remotely even after they’ve made their swing.

Thus by adding skills of its own, Vertignious Golf succeeds at being its own game instead of a shadow of a real world game.

Economics in Games featuring Armand Domalewski!

This Saturday (July 22nd) at noon (PDT), I will be bringing a special guest on stream to talk about the interaction of economics and games! Armand is a good friend, who in addition to knowing a lot about economics, also has expertise in debate and respectable nerd cred himself including Pokemon Go training for Sen. Scott Wiener.

Follow Armand on Twitter: @ArmandDoma

Octalysis Level 2 Certified

Hey all, this is gonna be another quick self-promotion post. So I’m now Level 2 Octalysis Certified, but instead of this just being an achievement announcement, I felt like this would be a good excuse to talk about what gamification is and how it’s thought about. So let’s talk about the prompt and skills tested by Octalysis Level 2 certification.

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Featured by The Octalysis Group!

A while ago, I entered The Octalysis Group’s challenge for improving the design of Habitica, a gamified productivity service. Octalysis is a behavioral design model that interprets user behavior through motivations, and it helps give a framework to thinking about how certain motivations can have synergistic or even antergistic effects in the right or wrong combinations. Though I didn’t win the competition overall, I was a finalist and my entry got featured! If you don’t have time to read through my whole presentation, I’ve curated a few excerpts in my portfolio.

Game Design Misconception 2: Balance is Parity

Welcome back to my game design misconceptions series. We’re back and gonna be discussing a particularly tricky misconception today: the purpose of game balance. These are all misconceptions I’ve held at one point or another as I grew as a game designer, so hopefully it’ll be informative to all you aspirants out there too!

As to the reasoning behind the header picture? I’ve still got quite a few more misconceptions to post about, so I’m gonna leave that explanation as a teaser for a later post.

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