The amount and type of luck involved in a game has a profound impact on the feel of that game. Some games have no luck whatsoever, and all the variation comes from what the opponent does (chess), some of them are all about luck with not much else (roulette), and most of them fall somewhere in between, creating a wide spectrum of possible experiences.
We don’t talk much about the role of luck in video games, probably because it’s hidden away under the black box of the computer simulation, but just like with board games, it can have have a large impact in the type of experience the video game provides.
Thinking about luck in these terms was crucial for the game I’m working on (still unannounced!). We made some crucial decisions thinking about how luck was part of the game and kind what kind of experience it created for the player. I’m hoping this post helps people with similar design challenges.
It feels like I’ve been making and playing video games all my life. It turns out I’ve been playing board games even longer.
A couple of weeks ago I posted my GDC micro-talk titled Why are you making games?. From the feedback I got, it seems that it resonated with a lot of people, and it also made some people stop and ask themselves that question (along with a few sleepless nights).
However, the question I was asked over and over was why am I making games? What are my answers to that question? As I said before, there are no right or wrong answers. Everybody needs to find their own answers, so in that respect, my answers don’t really matter.
On the other hand, since what I write here is purely personal, and a lot of people are curious about it, I figured I would give it a shot and answers those questions publicly.
This is a written version of my 5-minute talk from the Indie Soapbox session at this year’s GDC.
Why are you making games? No, I don’t mean “why are you making games?”. Also, I don’t mean “why are you making games?”. And I certainly don’t mean “why (on earth) are you making games?”. I mean the question in the purest, most abstract sense. Just “why are you making games?”.
This was a key question for me last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I thought other people might benefit from asking themselves the same question. To see where I’m coming from, let’s do a quick flash back.
It’s late 2011. Miguel and I finished working on Casey’s Contraptions and my daughter was born. I took a couple months completely off from work (new dads will understand why), and then, right at the turn of the new year, I decided to start working again. The plan was to prototype a few of the juiciest ideas, pick one that really stood out, and make a new game in a few months. How hard could it be, right?
I’m still working on prototypes. I’ve spent the last six months going through different game ideas and working on prototype after prototype. Along the way I’ve made over 20 different prototypes on iPad or iPhone. I’m sure a lot of those prototypes would have made decent iOS games, but I wasn’t particularly excited to develop them all the way and take them to completion. I’m looking for something that’s both very interesting to develop and something I can proudly point to after it ships.
Right now I have a couple of game ideas in hand that I’m pretty excited about. I prototyped one of those, but I quickly realized it might be a game better suited for desktops rather than iOS, so I decided to write my next prototype for that game on the Mac. Maybe another day I’ll write a post about prototypes, but what I want to write about today is my experience moving over my prototyping code to the Mac. Continue reading