Thank You For Playing

Amateur game design for the technically impaired

Posts Tagged ‘design

Expected Gameplay Mechanics Part 1

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I have decided to discuss common game play mechanics found throughout games. For the most part, I will be speaking in generalities. I will also be discussing commercial as well as Indie games. The purpose of this post is to discuss familiar gameplay mechanics that most games share and to perhaps avoid some of these cliche mistakes in the future.


This most may sound like a bit of a rant, but it stems from a series of recurring themes and gameplay devices that I have noticed in my years of gaming. These things apply to most not all games.

  • Collecting Stuff
  • Difficulty
  • Points
  • Boss Fights
  • Save Points
  • Unlocking Characters in fighting games
  • Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Zombies

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    Written by brunokruse

    April 1, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Game Brainstorm: Serendipity

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    Fairly regularly, we post some simple original ideas in the spirit of sharing and discussion. I just recently noticed that these posts are not immediately distinguishable from games that we simply showcase in the case that a reader is just skimming through the headlines. For that reason, I have decided to just tack on a column name from now on. Game Brainstorm… Lazy, I know…


    Riven, one of the main inspirations of this game, featured a world packed with life, history, and significant details.

    Serendipity: An exploration platform game with mystery-puzzle gameplay.

    In Serendipity, players explore a 2D world which opens up as puzzles are solved and mysteries uncovered. In terms of interface and control, it will function much like Knytt Stories (does this game come up in every one of my posts?), with the exclusion of enemies and death. I choose to take inspiration from this particular game for a number of reasons:

    – The focus of Serendipity will be the environment instead of the player character. I haven’t completely decided on whether or not to include other characters at all. I would really like to because I feel that having memorable characters is second only to music in determining the longevity of a game, but it may detract from the mysterious atmosphere I intend to create.

    – Players should be able to traverse the world quickly and intuitively.

    – A tiny, featureless player character may allow players to project themselves into the game in the same way that a first-person perspective does in other titles, without having to break into 3D.

    So much for interface and control; on to the gameplay.

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    Written by justindopiriak

    March 26, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Knytt Stories Level Editor

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    Knytt SideNifflas is a brilliant level designer. While others have noted the influence he’s drawn from Metroid, the experience for me is far more reminiscent of Riven: the Sequel to Myst. While Within a Deep Forest depended more heavily on skill than anything in the Knytt collection, both offer intricate worlds to explore and learn, which start off unknowably vast and actually seem to shrink as new areas open up. The confusing collections of boundaries and obstacles steadily transform from distractions into landmarks as the player expands the arsenal of abilities and brings each image into perspective.

    It’s because of this brilliance that I’m confused about the inclusion of a level editor in the release. The effort is, of course, appreciated, but I’m quite apprehensive. With no abilities available in the editor that do not already appear in the pack-in adventure, The Machine, there is little to do besides alter the audio-visual style and craft a new Knytt world; however, the custom worlds (even the official ones) come across as remixes of the original adventure more than anything else.

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    Written by justindopiriak

    March 10, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Puzzle Scramble

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    Puzzle Scrambler

    Here’s a quick one…
    I have always been a fan of procedurally generated content; Diablo, Nethack, Dwarf Fortress. This idea is simple: to construct a procedurally generated puzzle game which constantly evolves and challenges the player.The puzzles will be simple, generated by predetermined algorithms. Some of the puzzles could be as simple as figuring out the next number in a sequence, to analyzing patterns in shapes. The objective would be to navigate through the maze of puzzles as quickly as possible. Each sequential level will include more puzzles, timers, harder puzzles and more variety.

    I am thinking that by having this game text only would add more of a hardcore puzzle feel to it. Graphics would perhaps detract from the game play. Navigating menus through text and typing answers manually would give it sort of a “hacker feel.” Perhaps the story could include something of that connotation.

    Puzzle Scramble

    If you haven’t noticed this game is semi-inspired by Professor Layton and would be playing in a similar way.

    Here are some examples of sequence puzzles that I had in mind.

    Written by brunokruse

    March 8, 2008 at 2:14 am


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    Alchemy Top RightMy original design concept for this week is more complicated than I expect most of ours to be and, as much as I hate to admit it, would probably be impossible to create without a knowledgeable team.

    Alchemy: A single player puzzle/simulation.

    The premise of this game is that a reclusive, aging alchemist has decided to take on an apprentice in order to pass on his archaic skills before he dies. At the top of his tower, he begins to train the player, his lucky recruit, when he suddenly passes away. The player is left trapped at the top of the tower with no way to bypass its many security systems. The only tools available are the alchemical supplies at hand and his basic introduction to the art.

    The basic introduction given by the alchemist could serve as a tutorial.

    Gameplay: Different elements must be combined and drawings created to synthesize new materials with brand new properties. The challenge is in discovering the effects that each element has on the synthesis, as well as the effects of the drawings (runes). The runes are by far the most complicated feature. Players are allowed to draw the runes freehand and different shapes will have different effects on the synthesis. For example, circles will have a certain function, which might be altered by bisecting it with a vertical or horizontal line. Concentric circles might interact in different ways than tangent circles. There will be a complex system beneath the gameplay and the entertainment is in uncovering that system.


    Here are a few clarifying examples of what could be:

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    Written by justindopiriak

    March 4, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Posted in Original Game Ideas

    Tagged with , ,


    with 3 comments


    Every week Justin and I each post an original game idea. Today I am going to tell you about Clearcross, a puzzle game that attempts to be as easy as possible to learn but still remain challenging. Clearcross is a puzzle game in its most basic format. Clearing lines of orbs until the game board is gone.



    The rules are simple: Click on any of the orbs to remove the corresponding orbs vertically and horizontally (across the board) from the chosen orb. The objective is to clear the board in the fewest number of turns possible. Each board could have a par as suggested by the creator. Be careful and plan ahead, eliminating an incorrect orb may cause gaps in the board causing you to use more moves.


    The art direction would be minimal to keep focus on the simplicity of the game. I know music is a vital part of games, but perhaps it would be better to skip the music and add subtle sound effects instead. This would not distract from the game play and still offer tactile responses to clearing orbs.

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    Written by brunokruse

    February 29, 2008 at 4:04 am

    The Supreme Importance of Music in Simple Games

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    Mega Man 2All music links in this post, unless otherwise noted, link to, a large database of midis for classic games.

    I have a very simple theory: that the success of most, if not every, popular 8-bit game was heavily dependent on the quality of its music. That is to say, dependent almost exclusively on the music. Mediocre games became great and good ones became legendary. I will support this theory, but also apply it to the development of independent games today.

    I won’t drag this out with too many details, since my original theory isn’t so much the point as its application to the current indie industry (dare I say… indiestry?). Instead, I’ll appeal to your own personal experiences and ask you to participate in a small experiment. Play any of the following games with the sound off, then simply crank it up. Be amazed as the entertainment value increases a hundredfold.

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    Written by justindopiriak

    February 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Posted in Development Process, Opinion

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