Games, games, games.

This is a blog about game innovation.

My definition of innovation is this: successfully different. This does not imply that something has to be successful commercially to innovate. Far from it! If a game succeeds at accomplishing what it attempts, it is successful. If what it attempts is different in some crucial way, if it challenges, defines, or expands conventions of the medium, it is different. Successful + different = innovative. Simple, right?

This blog is intended as a resource for game innovation: practical techniques for generating ideas, tools for better understanding games, and strategies for implementing them. Now, I’m no Will Wright. I’ve worked on five games, three of which have shipped. None of them are what I’d consider innovative. So, what qualifies me to write about innovation? I guess the answer is passion. Nothing gives me the braingiggles like a rogue idea, brilliant and well-executed. Nothing is so beautiful and perfect. When I see it, I want to share it. Then I feel it, and I want to create.

3 Responses to “Why?”

  1. TheBobNasty
    March 22nd, 2006 | 6:41 pm

    You rule Swinkletoes!!!!!

  2. Anthony
    February 14th, 2007 | 10:52 pm

    I have looked through this web-page before but this is the first time I came across this section. I think this is a really cool thing to have, I hope more people will add to this blog in the future. I know this is long, but I gave a report on this recently, and think this is a really important discussion.

    First off, I attend the Art Institute of Phoenix and am getting a B.A. in Game Art and Design. I really enjoy making game designs, but sadly, because I haven’t even graduated yet I can only work on board game designs, which are just as cool, but I hope that I will be able to design video games in the future. Nonetheless, I would like to put up some of my techniques for game design. I believe there are two primary parts to a board game, First is creativity/originality and second, the mathematical part.

    So, starting with making a game original, the definition of original is “arising or proceeding independently of anything else” (dictionary.com) … this is not possible. We can’t make something out of nothing, only God can do that, but we can fake it. So I always research something that people are not familiar with (ex: mitosis) and mix it with something else, like a card game. (You can also do this with video games) and now you have an “original idea” to work with. Another way, sometimes the best way, is to take something you like, a video game, sports … cutting people off during rush hour, anything and think about it. What do you find amusing about it? Being on the edge of your seat? Trumping people? Whatever you like about it, try to convey that through a game of some type. Maybe a movement game or a strategic game. Your goal in the end is to convey this action you like so much well enough that the people playing it feel the same way you do when you are doing whatever it is you like so much. The last thing I will say about being original is that sometimes I will just look at a game genre and say what is one of the basic principles about this game that, if you changed it, would make it so that it wouldn’t work? Start from that problem … and then make it work, it’ll be hard, but as my brother says “if your going through hell, keep going.” Your smart, just keep working on different ways to make that idea work, if you can make it work, then you win. I created a movement based game where everyone moves on the same turn, but that wasn’t the tricky part, I thought “what if everyone used the same dice roll, and could somehow move a different # of times” I got it to work. It took me about 4 months to hammer it out.

    The second part is the math side. I would say this is the more important part of the two. You could have this amazingly original idea, but if it just doesn’t work … then it doesn’t work. I believe that you have to have some kind of balancing system. Like D&D, if you aren’t strong, you’re fast or if you aren’t fast you’re smart. You need something like that that will enable people to have the ability to make choices that can all be equal, just different. So the only way to do this is with simple math equations. But the big deal here is that you must make algebra math equations, ones that have X, Y or Z’s in them, otherwise you aren’t giving the player any choices. The more unknowns you have, the more strategic and “fresh” the game can be. But this is where the double edge sword comes in, the more unknowns you have the more complex the game becomes and the harder it becomes to balance that game. So there has to be a beautiful balance between how many choices the player has to make between him, the game and other players (if there are other players). Everyone knows the Rubik’s cube; it is the pinnacle example of a perfect balance. When someone picks up the cube, they know immediately that they need to get all sides’ just one color, and if they don’t it only take 3 seconds to tell them the point. Yet, it could take some people years in order to solve it. But the point is this, you need to make the game balanced through math, and the only way is to make an equation that works. But NEVER let the player know what that equation is.

    So in conclusion, to make a good game design, I believe that it takes a lot of experience with both people and numbers. That is, you need to know how people think and what they like but also need to be able to make a self-supporting game through the use of simple mathematics…Remember the Rubik’s Cube.


  3. March 15th, 2007 | 9:31 pm

    um… buoni, realmente buoni luogo e molto utile;)

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