I apologize for the lack of updates the past week — busy times with school.Â That’s not the only reason though.Â I’ve run into a spell of writer’s block.Â For the past two days there have been a few, albeit not so interesting, announcements that could have warranted some sort of blog post but they would have felt pushed.Â GDC is happening but every announcement or bit of content that comes out is old news or stuff like “We’re working to make our game the best – yeah!”.Â Personally, I don’t care who runs Alganon now and I don’t know why anyone else does either.Â I’ve really been scouring the internets to find anything interesting from GDC that is relevant to anyone that doesn’t play Star Trek Online or Runes of Magic.
There was ONE interesting thing to come out of GDC so far and it’s from Blizzard’s Rob Pardo in a presentation titled: “Making a Standard (and Trying to Stick to it!): Blizzard Design Philosophies”.Â I usually don’t agree with everything Rob says, but while reading the presentation I found myself nodding the whole way through. A big part of the presentation was devoted to listing the failures and successes in Blizzard titles; everything from economies to certain quests. He makes key points that I’ve been rattling off for years on this blog.
– Gameplay over technology. Every aspect of design focuses on the gameplay first.
– “Easy to learn, almost impossible to master.”
– It doesn’t take anything away from a game by making something “epic.”
– Don’t complicate things if the bare essentials are the best part. “concentrated coolness”
– “Play, don’t tell.” Let players experience the story, not be told it.
– Focus on incentives, not punishments.
– Learn from the failures and the successes and make improvements.
The last point is my absolute favorite and I feel it encompasses everything about game design. Regardless of how big or small a failure OR a success, understanding what led to that result is the key to improvement. We’re seeing so little of this in practice. Game after game releases, sometimes by the same developer, with mistakes being repeated or successes being ignored. We’re also not seeing improvement, but regression.
Some would argue that this is a luxury, being able to have the time to look back and learn from the past.Â I say that if you don’t have the time, talent or the money to do it, then you don’t have what’s necessary to make a game.