Monday, February 24, 2014

Triptych II

Conventions and classes
I'll be at PrezCon in Charlottesville this weekend (beginning Thursday night). I'll be giving a talk about strategic wargame design (Strategic Wargame Design Sat  20:00 (8PM)    J. Madison room).  If you care to talk with me (which is why I'll be there), I am about 6'6", unfortunately over 300 pounds, glasses, mustache, balding on top (or wearing a cap), and over 60. Can't miss me.

I will soon be offering my online audiovisual classes on my own as well as through Udemy. They'll cost more through Udemy. News at

Quote from a comment on BGG: "Unintuitive rules are rules that don't make sense given the game's setting, goals, and components. It has nothing to do with previous gaming experience (otherwise every new game that strays from a known formula would be unintuitive)."

Get some people together who almost never play board games, and try to teach them some light (but not family) board games. What "makes sense" to gamers often does NOT make sense to the non-gamers. "Make sense" depends heavily on previous experience.

The effect of prior experience is especially obvious in user interfaces in video games. Players expect things to work a certain way because that's what they're used to. There may be a more sensible way to do it, but if you write your game in that more sensible way you've created a barrier for those used to the old way of doing it.

"Intuitive" frequently ends up meaning "what people are used to", not "what is most natural or sensible." Which is why I won't use the word in game design context.

Let's go further. We might think that photographs and maps are "intuitive", but take an aborigine who has never seen such a thing (no longer likely, but it's been done in the past) and they cannot make sense out of either. It is too far beyond their experience. They can be taught to recognize photos and even use maps, but to them there's NOTHING "intuitive" about it.

"Intuitive" as used in games is still a synonym for "easy to use" or "easy to learn", but it comes from what people are already familiar with.

Now on the other hand, there are things that may be natural to humans. For example, when moving a mouse, it's a lot easier to point at something at the edge of a screen, where you cannot overshoot it, than if it's away from the edge. In this respect, buttons on the screen edges are "intuitive", if anything is.

I am @lewpuls on twitter. Some of these references from recent tweets may interest you:

Understanding Choice:… ( It is written primarily with math-style games, often solvable games (puzzles), in mind.

Some games require software. Others (e.g. most tabletop) don't use software, just "brainware". (Term courtesy of my wife.)

Contest: each competitor does something separately, without being able to affect the other competitors through gameplay. Compare results.

“Gamification” in practice amounts to scorification of *contests*, not use of actual gameplay techniques. There is no game. . .

An articulate and fascinating look into a budding game designer's head:… ( #gamedesign (

Jakob Nielsen's advice about on-screen instructions for mobile apps should apply to mobile games too:… ( #gamedesign (

KS: "A service that lets you customize your perfect miniature using our web UI and have it 3D printed just for you!"… (

Avoiding player elimination in multi-sided games: ( via @YouTube (

"Tech wars and talent shortages." How recruiting and working conditions have changed in the video game industry.… (

"Player count and scalability"… (

Learning from backer cancellations in Kickstarter… ( Anyone planning to run a KS should read Jamey's lessons.

Unusual, often artsy, dice:… ( And on KS,… (… (… (

Today is the 6th anniversary of Purple Pawn, a site for all kinds of non-electronic game news, BROAD coverage.… (

What makes my Game Design book unusual or unique: ( via @YouTube (

Sherlock Holmes: the Card Game, second edition… (

For those who have run their own studios this states the obvious, but not to newbies:… ( #gamedesign (

Diatribe against F2P games (with a couple of very interesting comparative videos by Nerd3 - beware, strong language):… (

Monday, February 17, 2014

Three kinds of games and game fans: Math, People, Story

Categorizing aspects of game design in groups of two or three frequently promotes critical thinking. Here's one attempt (via a short video) to categorize game players by the nature of the games they prefer.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Artisan, the Engineer, and the Mimic: Three kinds of game designers

I'm experimenting with use of video, from my youtube channel "Game Design". This was originally made for my online audiovisual course "Learning Game Design".  Blogger's YouTube search is defective, so I'll have to post the actual link: