i have no words i must design by greg costikyan currently a games researcher at nokia l.
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Presentation Transcript
  • “I Have No Words” was written in the early 1990s, at a time when virtually nothing had been written on the subject of game design as a discipline, before game studies as a discipline or Game Developer magazine existed.
  • This piece was written with emphasis on decision making and may be less applicable to games that depend on fast action.
  • Greg Costikyan is an inductee of the

Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame

For a Lifetime of Accomplishment in the field

lots of games out there
Lots of Games out there


  • Cart-based
  • Computer
  • CD-ROM
  • Network
  • Arcade
  • PBM (Play By Mail)
  • PBEM
  • Mass-Market Adult
  • War games
  • Card games
  • Tabletop RPGs
  • LARPs (Live Action Role Playing)
  • Freeforms
  • Paintball
  • Virtual Reality
  • Sports
  • Horses
do these things have anything in common what is a game
Do these things have anything in common? What is a game?
  • How can you tell a good one from a bad one?
  • Good game !!
  • Good book… does that help you write a better one
  • Game designers need to analyze games
    • Understand them
    • Understand what works
    • Understand what makes them interesting
what is a game anyhow
What is a game anyhow?
  • Its not a puzzle – Puzzles are static
    • Present logic structures to be solved w/assistance of clues
    • Games are NOT static and change with player’s actions
  • Think of games on a continuum
  • Crossword 100% puzzle
  • Zork 90% puzzle – 10% game
    • Characters move from setting to setting allowable actions vary by setting and inventory changes with action.
  • Almost all games have some degree of puzzle-solving, even military strategy games require players to solve puzzle of making optimum attack
not a toy
Not a toy
  • Sim City is not a game at all, but a toy.
  • Will Wright makes a comparison to a ball
    • Offers many interesting behaviors for your to explore
      • Bounce It,
      • Twirl it,
      • Throw it
      • Dribble it
      • Can play multiple games with it
    • It provides a world that the player may manipulate, but provides NO objective
    • You may chose one…
    • BUT Sim City itself has no victory conditions, NO Goals,
    • It is a Software toy.
    • A toy is interactive, BUT games have goals
not a story
Not a Story
  • Stories are inherently linear
  • Games are inherently non-linear
    • Depend on decision making
  • How would gamers feel if game master says

“I don’t want you players to do that, because it will ruin the story?

  • Gaming is NOT about telling stories
it demands participation
It Demands Participation
  • Traditional art forms have passive audiences.
  • Admire a painting, you may imagine things in it, you may see something other than what the artist intended
  • When reading a book… Most of it is in your head…

You are receiving the authors words.

  • Enter the game.
    • Games provide a set of rules
    • But players create their own consequences
    • Like Music
      • The Designers provide the Theme
      • The Players provide the Music
    • A democratic art form for a democratic age.
so what is a game
So What is a Game?
  • Players make decisions
    • Manage resources through game tokes in the pursuit of a goal
  • Opposition
    • Competitive games
    • Real interest is about struggling toward a goal.
    • After you win you fill the thrill of victory!
  • Game Tokens – entities you manipulate directly
    • Resources are things you manage efficiently to achieve a goal
    • Tokens are your means of managing them
  • Without tokens you have a system that operates with out much player input
  • Giving the player a sense of control and it makes the game more interesting.
other things that strengthen games
Other Things that Strengthen Games
  • Diplomacy
    • Whenever multiple players are involved they are strengthened with diplomacy
    • Games permit diplomacy if players can assist each other
  • Color
    • Color counts a lot and some games work solely because color
    • Some games suffer because their lack their of.
    • Pageantry, detail & sense of place can add greatly to emotional appeal, BUT don’t over do it and make it look appealing
  • Simulation
    • STAR Wars: The Role Playing Game
    • He adds simulations of the move, to encourage players to attempt far-fetched cinematic stunts
    • Using the system to reflect something about the atmosphere and ethos of the films.
    • Can also improve character identification
other things that strengthen games11
Other Things that Strengthen Games
  • Variety of Encounter
    • Random elements are never wholly random, they are within a range of possibilities
    • Randomness can be useful.. It is one way to provide variety
    • Players like to encounter the unexpected
    • With inadequate variety, it gets boring quickly
  • Positive Identification
    • Character identification is a common theme in fiction and games
    • Lends emotional power to a story
    • In a sports game the identifying position is YOU,
      • Making the game more important to YOU
  • Role Playing – provides position identification, the feeling that the world is alive and colorful
  • Socializing – When designing think about social issues and how the game encourages or discourages socialization.
    • How can you encourage better socializing
  • Narrative tension- The story should become more gripping as it proceeds until climatic resolution
what do these myriad form of games have in common
What do these myriad form of games have in common?
  • All involve
  • Decision making
  • Managing Resources in pursuit of a goal
  • How can we tell a good game from a bad one?
  • Terms to analyze game appeal
    • Decisions
    • Variety of encounter
    • Compelling
    • Narrative Tension
    • Role Playing
    • Socializing
    • Color
    • Simulation
    • Diplomacy
  • Gaming is a artform! Be mindful of what it takes to make it GREAT!