Category: Game Design

Examples of game mechanics that tell stories: Diablo 2, Starcraft’s Demo, Rogue, Star Control 2

riven-ferns-htrone

[~2700 words]

Recently I watched a good video by Mark Brown about the Last Guardian. He analyzes how the game communicates story through gameplay and he looks at one specific moment in the game. If you don’t mind mild spoilers on the Last Guardian then go check out the video, it’s pretty good.

This got me to thinking about other moments in games when story is being told through narrative.

Of relevance is an older post I made about Riven and how it manages to merge narrative and gameplay so that they are one and the same. The image at the top of the post is also for Riven, but there’s no storytelling going on there. I just like that view.

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How the Necromancer is Diablo 2’s most unique class

mephisto-3

[~1900 words]

The Necromancer was always my favorite class in Diablo 2, and one of the things that always struck me was how unique he was compared to all the other characters. His entire design paradigm was completely different. This uniqueness changed slightly in the expansion with the arrival of the Assassin and the Druid, but this is primarily because those two classes cribbed some of their design from the Necromancer.

(I analyzed the unique and intriguing design of the Necromancer in a post long ago, but that analysis was obfuscated by me also trying to do other weird gonzo, humor things; in early posts on this blog I did a lot of experimental things that didn’t pan out.)

This has also been on my mind recently because I am designing a coop dungeon crawler board game and some of the character classes are inspired by my revelations about D2’s Necromancer design.

So, let’s get into what makes the D2 Necromancer so unique and different from the rest of the D2 classes (I’m not really going to talk about Diablo 3 at all, fyi).
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Fun Gun Awards: the laser gun from Lastronaut

title-screen

[~600 words]

The Fun Gun Award™, is an award given to video game guns that aren’t necessarily effective, don’t necessarily give a player any tactical advantage, but which have creative behavior, unique design, and are fun to use. These guns might suck, they might be overpower, they might be unbalanced, but they’re so fun that I want to use them over and over.

I remember playing a small mobile game a while back called Lastronaut (by Darrin Henein and Stephan Leroux) and there was one particular weapon that I really enjoyed using: the Multilaser (although I don’t believe any of the weapons have official names, you just pick them up and use them).

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Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 2/2)

sword-spin

[~3200 words]

Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 2)

CONTINUED FROM PART 1

Map 7: The desert sandstorm

desert-start

I had fun with this level. People enjoyed it even though it’s very badly designed.

I got the “sandstorm” effect by lowering the view distance, altering the lighting, and altering the tint to the “fog”. The fog isn’t actually moving, but it still gives a good impression of a sandstorm. People thought this was cool.

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Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 1/2)

city-slashed

[~3000 words]

PART 1 of 2

OH MAN! I have been trying to get through a backlog of ideas so that I could finally get to this. I still haven’t gotten through my backlog, but felt like jumping to this anyway.

I myself have dabbled in game design and modding over the years. I haven’t done much. There’s various reasons for this including that I’ve never had quality, modern PC hardware. For most of my life I’ve only had outdated Macs handed down to me by family.

Nevertheless, I figured that with all the analyzing and critiquing of other games that I do that it was about time I did some postmortems of my own extant work (some of my earlier modding, game design, and programming, as well as games I made on my graphing calculator, have been lost to history).

The first thing I’ll look at will be a mod I made for the indie game Lugaru, by Wolfire Games (aka David Rosen) (the sequel, Overgrowth, is currently being developed). I made my mod way back in early 2009 and the forum post where I posted it still exists on Wolfire’s website.
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Design tools: the Jump Cut, the narrative device that games forget

thirty-flights-car

[~2700 words; ~1600 on jump cuts; ~1100 going off on tangents towards the end]

#WallOfText #AlmostNoPics

I was musing about video games the other day and for some reason, out of nowhere, I got this vision for the use of a sequence of jump cuts that I don’t think has ever been seen in a game before.

And the more I thought about it the more I realized that the act of suddenly, and without effect, cutting from one scene to another is almost never used in games. Almost all games have an uninterrupted, linear sequence of events that play out through an unbroken span of time. The breaks that do happen are between levels, if the game has levels, or through cutscenes that create bridges between two different locations.
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Poetic Cartography: the use of decorative, non-utilitarian maps in games

halo-big-map

[~1500 words]

The first image isn’t actually a good example of what I want to talk about; it’s just a cool map in a video game. What I want to talk about in this post are maps that actually represent the level or playable space in a game, but which don’t actually serve a gameplay purpose to the player.

Let’s dive in.
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