The best of 2021, Part 2 – Game Making

Alright, so yesterday I established we’re going to talk about some ‘best of’ writing in 2021, but then I went and banged on about some nerd stuff like elves and dragonborn (two things that actually didn’t come up but you’re not going to go check, not really, who cares). Today we’re going to push that nerd crap off the table and instead focus on the much more interesting question of hey, what about making games?

First of all, and probably the most important post I made all year, which was my Birthday Celebration day. This may seem like a minor thing, but it was one of the few times I put the call out for ‘hey, can I get feedback, let me know if stuff I do matters to you,’ and … people responded. Even in just the tweet responses! It was super helpful and something that drove home to me just how much feedback can turbocharge kinds of productivity.

Okay, that’s that.

The big project forms of creativity this year were when I did a rules breakdown of Die Rich. This is the kind of practice I feel I need to put out there, because going from interaction to outline to rulebook is one of those challenging steps, and it involves asking asking myself questions, and seeing where potential problems with the game can break down. I also did a step-by-step breakdown of how I made the card faces for the game Camp Osum, which now I hope to have a release-ready candidate by October this year, you know, for spooky stuff.

Then there are posts that were about exploring rules ideas or just game concepts, as well as my starting on doing brainstorming with handfuls of game assets. This included outlining the idea of a game about bidding for second place, a game about hunting for something within 9 cards, and the work on revising a game like The Botch into a print-and-play version (still not out, I know).

Then there were some articles about concepts that relate to game development. A piece about knowing when you’re being tested, being able to recognise a test. A piece about how types of games have different types of play. A piece about how you can run games without the game being about punishment. An examination of how voting systems work and how you can use them to structure competitions. And also about how polycules introduce a whole idea space you may not have considered with polyamrous characters.

I also looked at the unintentional consequences of the change of how gender was handled in Pokemon Generation 1, and about the history of the Queen in chess, and how Gamers Have Always Been Like That.

Also, before things at the end of the year got wild, I made some posts examining a concept for a game called We Are The Night, with three posts on that. These three posts, which examine the idea and what changes it needs from Blades in the Dark, is a kind of design I enjoyed doing because even if I don’t wind up finishing it. Thing is, this is a creative space where I have to look at my own basic assumptions and come to terms with ideas like game fiction and player fantasy… and that’s interesting, to me.