Sunday, June 18, 2006

Links n' Stuff

I was recently asked for links n' stuff on hoity-toity game design. Here's some. If you have some, comment away.

MDA/8 Kinds of Fun (Poor website, IMO, but good ideas.)

8 Kinds of Fun (also avaible in flavors of 7, 9, and 13, as I recall) is simply a way to get you to think about what kinds of experiences you'll be providing - helping you to either focus or diversify.

MDA is a method of looking at how mechanics affect the end experience of the player - this mechanistic style of game design is pretty much all I go for, although I personally think MDA is a bit... "loose". It doesn't contain any real helpful things, just a kind of generic overview of ways you might want to think about stuff.

Poker player types, which are actually very good analysis of game players in general, although they're missing several kinds of players because poker doesn't appeal to everyone.

Maybe more useful, 4/25 types of players. Not the standard fare, but I never liked the standard fare. It's humor, but there's a lot of real data there. Which, really, is the reason it's funny.

Of course, the standard fare is Bartle's Four Player Types. I think this is an old essay, but I can't tell for sure. Anyhow, that's the most popular analysis of player types.

When it comes to design paradigms, there aren't very many links available. MDA is one of the few (first link). There's a few others, like the 400 project and about a million "patterns of game design" knockoffs.

Mostly, however, it's a tenuous gathering of posts from people who are thinking but not publishing. For example, Skotos, Sirlin, and even me.

The real problem is that the deeper theories come from people who have half a dozen theories. Me? I run with PAC, nested gameplay loops, and relative play vision - all three of which provide for interesting, useful ways of looking at games. But it's not a theory. Most other theorists of this type are in the same boat.

(Those links are old, because it's been a while since I've posted overviews. As time goes on, it's updates and new permutations...)

There. Post your favorite links in the comments section.


Patrick Dugan said...

Nicole Lazzaro's "Types of Fun" gives the most compact flavor, weighing in only at 4:

Chris Bateman's series on Roger Callois' types of play is a great reference:

Clint Hocking's speech on "simulation boundary" is pretty solid:

You're right about theories working best in packs. I tend to think in terms of "Magic Circles" ala Huizinga, with different "spins" applied based on Callois trio of dualities, and these different circles (which I think are similar to your play loop concept) work like a memetic molecule. Memetics actually strikes me as the most useful, though the lack of a formal foundation makes for a lower hit rate, but if there were it would integrate system dynamics with psychology and really provide some useful concepts.

In the meantime I'll try my best to do what game designers have done for decades, apply concepts in an relatively ad-hoc manner while aiming for an underlying consistency.

Also, it strikes me that rapid prototyping and a unified theory of game design are two approaches to the same quality, and they can do wonderful things in concert.

Craig Perko said...

Thanks for the links and the agreement!

I have to say I'm not a big fan of Lazzaro's work, but simulation boundary stuff is useful, if it's the same simulation boundary stuff I remember. :)

Patrick Dugan said...

I'd really like to know if you think theres anything groundbreaking in Chen's thesis. I'm guessing its mostly stuff thats already covered by PAC, but maybe inverted, since PAC is all about system metrics and adjustment.

Craig Perko said...

I've seen it before - I don't know whether it's his theory or a theory he's simply putting up.

Either way, it's something that people should read. :)

Gah! My word verify is "okzqvqyu". :P