Category Archives: Game Design

Ludonarrative Dissonance Re-Examined

I assume you know the term. Here’s a rel­a­tive­ly recent review of the con­cept if you need­ed. As much as I’ve most­ly enjoyed the online dis­cus­sion, I think we’ve failed to exam­ine the sim­ple rea­son why nar­ra­tives can fail in games. As a result, we’ve missed why things are unlike­ly to change. The issue may […]

Cooldowns: Worth Using?

Today, game design­ers rely on reuse timers as the means to con­trol the moment-to-moment econ­o­my. The econ­o­my of core game­play such as com­bat — not gold or XP. In essence, game design­ers use cooldowns to cre­ate a lim­it­ed resource, and thus apply a cost, on abil­i­ty or item use.  Why have cooldowns become com­mon? They’re […]

Who Made Mass Effect 2, Really?

Though I used to work for Elec­tron­ic Arts, and I have friends and col­leagues at Bioware, I nev­er made inquiries into the odd dis­so­nance with­in the Mass Effect series. So instead I ask here: Was each Mass Effect game designed by a dif­fer­ent Bioware team? Actu­al­ly, was was ME2 secret­ly writ­ten by anoth­er stu­dio — say, […]

The Best GDC Session You (Probably) Didn’t Attend

My MVP ses­sion this year was Jason Scott’s explo­ration of “Stu­dio Design Groups.” For good or ill, my own his­to­ry as a design­er has been work­ing for big­ger stu­dios and pub­lish­ers. Each of those had a wealth of design tal­ent, but the tal­ent that was divid­ed and nat­u­ral­ly enough focused on indi­vid­ual projects. Inter­nal divi­sion […]