Designing for Gamefeel: Board States

As mechanics and systems become more complex, it becomes more difficult to keep track of all of the moving pieces. The amount that a person is required to hold in their mind at any time is referred to as “cognitive load,” and generally speaking, all games should work to minimize cognitive load as much as possible. However, sometimes there is a needed complexity in order to achieve other effects, creating situations where a large amount of information needs to be managed at any given time.

In order to reduce this mental load, a designer can turn towards the concept of the board state.

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Designing for Gamefeel: Tools of the Trade

Welcome back to Designing for Gamefeel! Last week we discussed Pacing and Phrasing,with a follow up post about the Campaign Framework. Today, we’re going to tackle the Tools of the Trade.

In this, I mean the specific tools that mechanics can be built around. Broadly speaking, I have broken this down into four different kinds of tools that most groups will have easy access to, and that can be used by most people. Some of these tools do need accessibility hacks, but fortunately these tools are common enough that the ways to make them accessible are widely known.

(I recommend starting with this post by the Geeky Gimp if you’re looking for ways to make existing tools more accessible.)

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Designing for Gamefeel: Campaign Framework

Welcome back to Designing for Gamefeel! In this ancillary article, we will be expanding the scope of game pacing from the scene level to the campaign level. This involves addressing the concepts of scene length and how these scenes are structured together into an overarching framework.

To talk about scene length, first we must decide on what definition of “scene” that this article is using. For that purpose, I am defining a scene to be a series of actions with close continuity. A break in the flow of action, such as a timeskip or a cut to a different location, represents a new scene. This new scene may be clustered within an existing scene or it may also represent the end of the first one.

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Designing for Gamefeel: Pacing and Phrasing

Welcome back to Designing for Gamefeel. Last week we discussed Modality, the idea that no single mechanic can cover every kind of scenario and thus a game requires a variety of modes to cover a broader range of experiences. This week, we will be discussing Pacing and Phrasing, two very useful aspects in modulating the tone of a mode.

Pacing is perhaps the most important aspect in determining how a mode feels. Some might make the argument that aesthetics and tactile sensations are more important, but I will stand by pacing as the factor that most directs the way a scene feels. Action moves quick, long term investigations move slow, important conversations have a steady pace, while horror scenes build up the tension by moving slow before exploding into swiftness.

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Designing for Gamefeel: Modality

Welcome back to Designing for Gamefeel. In this series, I will be discussing ways that game designers can create play experiences that have greater ludonarrative consonance. That is to say, games that feel in play the same that they do in the narrative.

In the last article in this series, I introduced the topic and brought up several axioms that I will be abiding by throughout the entire series. This week, I will be discussing the concept of modality as it applies to game feel.

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Designing for Gamefeel: Introduction

This is the beginning of a new series of blogs, focused around exploring the ideas around how games feel in active play, and how we can design for a game feel that is closer to the action of the game itself. During this series, I will likely say disparaging things about your favorite game. This is not to imply anything negative about you or your choice to play that game, but rather to examine how these games frame the play experience and how that framing does not always match up with the desired impact of its rules.

This series operates under a few axioms which are assumed to be true, and which I will not be arguing throughout the rest of the series.

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How I Got Here

Hey everyone! I wanted to throw together an extended bio of my time as a designer, just to help me get all the pieces in place in my own head, and I figure, why not make it a blog post? This one is a little off-the-cuff, so don’t expect a ton of editing or other post-writing work. If you’re interested, let me know what you think! Otherwise, feel free to skip! Have a good one!

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What is an RRG?

A new form of analog games is burgeoning in quiet spaces, in places that have little attention put onto them, but that are innovating in new and radical ways. This new type of games are called Roleplaying Reality Games (RRGs), and there have been exactly three of them run. What exactly an RRG is remains fluid at this point, remains a place for debate and discussion, but in this article I will discuss the characteristics of RRGs and what makes the genre distinct.

But first, let’s talk about why RRGs matter. RRGs draw inspiration from a large number of sources, ranging from choose-your-own-adventures to social deduction games to versions of Survivor and Big Brother run on forums. The core element of this DNA of design is that they are born in and adapted to the digital world. RRGs allow for a high degree of connection to the events of the narrative while also respecting the time of the participants.

How do RRGs achieve this effect? That comes down to their distinctive characteristics.

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Game Design Against Fascism: Generalized Intelligence

The concept of generalized intelligence is prominent throughout our society. We refer to people as “smart” or “intelligent,” or comparatively “dumb” or “stupid.” This usage is unconscious on the part of most who take part in it, but there are very problematic roots to these concepts, at least in how they are used today. What’s more, these concepts are echoed directly into their usage in games of all kinds.

In this essay, I will argue that generalized intelligence is an inherently racist, ableist, and fascist concept that should not be present in media that does not wish for a fascist audience.

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