2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #10: 91-100

91. Secret Identity

Sometimes I look at things and think about design space, then wonder about if anyone’s using it. For example, despite the fact that cards have two sides and superheroes often have two identities there aren’t any good superhero card games right now.


92. Film Influences

Movies have great lessons for pacing a game, about building a story and reaching a satisfying crescendo. Some games already basically follow the arc of a movie. Look to Samurai Spirits, or Risk.

93. Hiding The Purpose

Poker is pretty good at making you think it’s about having good hands. That’s part of its magic, moving cups around. Serious poker players will tell you the game is about using your behaviour as readable information and giving away as little other information as possible. Nonetheless, the game makes the hands seem important, gives them value, and the ‘real’ game emerges.

94. Broaden Your Sources

Listen to people who create even if not directly in your sphere. Even when not trying to, talking to and considering these positions and ideas of people with distinctly different life experiences (and there are a lot of those – I’m a white cis guy after all) has been useful for building and strengthening mine You’re always trying to create systems to stimulate players’ experience, and empathy is the best tool for knowing how to get there

95. Wins Or Losses

You can think of end games in terms of either a win (‘pursue this objective’) or a loss (‘which is often harder on the woman. ‘) Avoiding a movie slasher and being the Last Girl is a good example of Loss-Oriented design. Getting All The Gems is more win-oriented. Loss-focused design tends to be meaner.

96. Evens and Odds

Even numbers are good for cooperation, odd numbers are good for conflict. Players can divide things in half and feel fair, or share loads equally when there IS an equal amount to be shared. Odd numbers can’t be split equally and can’t be easily divided-and-conquered the same way, either. Look at the MTG colour wheel.

97. Clever Vs Fun

Your game can be super clever but it doesn’t matter if it’s boring.

I’m talking to you Seafall.

Always, on this point, it’s you, Seafall.

(stands over the cliffside looking down at the lava bellowing at Seafall) YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE

98. Rollercoaster moments

Automated game sections are actually totally fine, if they’re a chance for players to watch something they did unfold. Programmed games (Lords of Xidit, a lot of trump games) are a very obvious example of this. But know what does it best? Galaxy Trucker. Galaxy Trucker is one mass of impossible frantic decisions, then you put what you made onto a ghost train and let it leap out and spook you

99. Connect Your Work To Audiences

Don’t presume on audiences. You may load your game with things to try and connect it to a market but if they don’t see it, who cares? You could make Gay Cuddlepile Furry Mayhem that comes with a free handjob from Accelo and if nobody knows where to get it, they won’t buy it.

This is and has been my hardest problem. Right now, every single thing I’ve tried to get people interested in my games has failed except standing in front of them and showing them the games at conventions.

100. Scale Of Numbers

Big numbers don’t make a game more mature or serious. Bigger numbers and bigger bounds on math mostly only matters for distance. A games may have a total score start at 0 and reach 150 but if players are only ever 2-5 points away from each other, what’s the point?

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