We’re getting ready for the third run of the Game Design Seminar here in Vancouver. It is a 4 day event that will take place over two weekends: July 19-20 and July 26-27. I’m so happy to announce that the great folks at Lighthouse labs accepted to host us at their location in Gastown, lots of space and a great atmosphere at this coding school!
If you’re interested, contact me by mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to share this around!
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After last week video where I analyzed the way Halo shapes the combat dynamic for the average players, here is a quick look at Quake’s top competitive end.
Also, some related links:
As a follow-up to last week’s video on the lessons from Pac-Man design, here is how they can apply to AAA games, with a short study of Halo’s multiplayer combat.
I studied the game systems of Pac Man as I was working on a documentation process for the designers at Ubisoft Montreal. I wanted to use a simple game to showcase that process, but as I dug in the different resources available, I realized how refined this game’s systems were. This led to understanding game design principles that still stick with me today.
In the video, for the sake of brevity (also because I don’t fully understand the game’s systems), I used rather gross approximations, and I wanted to link you to a great article that properly covers the ghost AI of Pac-Man. Here it is: Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behaviour by Chad Birch.
Here is another video from my design short talk series that discusses how we build experiences to convey meaning, the difference between how we relate to stories and to games, and how to build game systems that are meaningful for your player.
Here is a short video on why you shouldn’t use the word fun as a game designer or as a producer/manager. It actually echoes the article on creative management I wrote last year and extracts its essence in a more accessible way. Hope it will entice you to go and check it after watching the video.
As I had a good amount of requests to run the game design seminar on the East coast or abroad, I turned myself toward online solutions. As a result, and while I am working to setup my training program as a webinar, I opened a youtube channel and started making short videos. Here is the first one, it gives a quick summary on the different articles I wrote on pleasure and fun. Feedback is welcome, as well as ideas on what topic you would like to see covered next.
I was recently invited by the cognitive science department of Simon Fraser University to participate in a series of event regrouping researchers and industry members at the Centre for Digital Media. The talk I gave reports on my research on gameplay and is in line with my series of articles on the subject. Since biology and the human mind were my initial fields of study during my university years, I was rather pleased to see that my findings in the game design field appeared relevant to the SFU researchers, as well as the CDM students. The event went on with a mixer including a showcase of old games, and allowed confirmed gamers and neophytes to enjoy those gems from the golden age of the 80s.
I would like to thank Kimberly Voll (@ZanyTomato) for recommending me to the SFU staff, and the CDM for giving me the video and letting me use it. I also use that occasion to lead you to my newly opened youtube channel, feel free to subscribe to get access to my upcoming video content.
We’ve run the first Game Design Seminar and we’re getting ready to go at it again! After the initial announcement of the seminar it became clear that there was a local demand for training in game design here in Vancouver and that 5 days in a row wouldn’t work for such a busy crowd. This is why adapting the content to make it fit on four days, over two weekends, seemed a winning proposition. Holding it in a central location is also key, and I was very fortunate that East Side Games had agreed to host us in their studio in Gastown. We were able to spend these two weekends in this space, with on-site lunch to optimize time spent and allow for some impromptu networking between the participants. The attendance was composed of people from Black Tusk, Blackbird Interactive, Kabam, Eastside Games, Hothead and Greencod, showing a great representation of our local studios and demonstrating that good game design principles apply to all branches of our industry, AAA, social as well as indie games.
In terms of content, we started by covering the difference between creative direction and game design and exposed the notion of creative process by giving examples of how it helped structure successful projects by aligning business, creative and the different technical disciplines. We then went through the detailed exploration of three main areas of game design: Motivation design, system design and interaction design. Each of these topics were covered through lectures using detailed analysis of existing games as well as from relevant examples from other creative industries. Hands-on exercises were also proposed to put the participants in situation and let them experience the difference between a vision holder, a lead designer and a game designer position. Personal homework was also given at the end of each day to round up each topic and create continuity across the days.
Based on the experience of the first run and with the feedback received, we are now ready to open the seminar to a wider audience and we will organize a new session in April. If you are interested in attending or if you want more details, please send a mail here, or check the seminar description page here.
As a final note, I want to thank all of the attendees of the first run, as well as Lidi (@lpgiroux) and Josh (@joshnilson) from East Side Games, and the incomparable Susannah (@Majord0m0) for taking care of us all during these four days.
Here are some more pictures taken during the lectures and group exercises: