Design Notepad: The Perfect Un-planned Feature

Unplanned features, a concept that doesn't sit well with most game developers (producers I'm looking at you), and rightly so! Additional cost and bugs means they can be risky. After all, they are the very definition of feature creep. However, making games is a creative process. Things change during the course of development, inspiration strikes or something you've been experimenting with turns out to be a huge value add. Not all features are born equal, some are much more suited to being a last minute addition than others. What are the attributes of the perfect unplanned feature? How can we spot them and take advantage? Makes use of what's readily available If the feature can be created with elements from existing systems and assets it's immediately something that's worth at least considering. It's a "modder" approach, taking elements of the games that were created to do one thing and repurposing them to create a variation of a feature or even som

10 design lessons from 10 years in games

10 years ago I started working in the games industry. Along the way I've picked up a few things that I wanted to record (for my own sake!) and share with you. 1. Understand the problem before chasing a solution Don't be tempted to start designing a solution when the problem is not fully explored and understood, take the time to focus on what you're trying to resolve. Make sure you understand what the solution needs to accomplish then formalize your findings, write them down. Develop goals. Present these to other team members, discuss and amend them as required. It's always better to debate the purpose of a feature than to debate a feature with no obvious purpose. 2. Don't pop an idea before it's fully inflated When a new idea or feature is proposed it's tempting to start immediately identifying flaws or concerns. Avoid writing ideas off or designing fixes based on these assumptions. Although these concerns are likely valid it's worthwhile giving the peop

Design Notepad: Sticky Design - Unique Water Cooler Moments

I have always been fascinated by long running multiplayer games that have strong communities form around them. Games like Counter Strike, WoW, Minecraft and more recently Fortnite. What follows is the first in a series of notes I have on how we can facilitate this as designers.  Unique Water Cooler Moments Why is this important? In these types of games we want to offer something new every play session. This keeps the experience fresh and exciting over a long period of time. For example; "I was almost dead AND out of ammo, but I snuck around the back and disarmed the bomb with only a few seconds left! - the other team had no idea, it was amazing!" This is a unique moment for that player. Similar situations may play out but it's unlikely to be identical. This is very different to single player games, where every players experience will be almost the same.  Water cooler moments are usually exciting and rewarding by virtue - you probably wouldn't tell somebody about somet

New Monitor (165 hz!)

 I recently picked up a Dell 27" IPS 165hz 1ms S2721DGF Gaming Monitor . It's a bit of a beast. If you're not a monitor nerd, "hz" aka "Hertz" is how many frames it can show on the screen per second. This is also known as refresh rate.  Most monitors display at around 60hz. This means if your game is running at above 60 fps your monitor won't really show it. Enabling a feature like V-sync, which matches the games FPS to the monitors refresh rate will demonstrate this as you will notice (if you are running above 60 fps on a 60hz monitor) that your fps is now clamped at 60. G-sync / Free sync are similar, these features match your monitors refresh rate to your games FPS (freeing up your GPU to pump more frames instead of running V-sync).  If you spot screen tearing in your game, that's usually down to your FPS not matching your monitors refresh rate. So now I have a beefy monitor that is G-Sync / Freesync compatible and can display 165 frames per

Gaming Thoughts: CoD Warzone / Modern Warfare 2019

A few months ago I decided I to try out the free to play Call of Duty: Warzone. I've not enjoyed a CoD game since Modern Warfare 2. So my expectations were low. I just don't enjoy CoD these days - was my initial and incredibly incorrect thought. But I'm a game Designer, this is the new hot shit, I need to take a look! It's good. Very good. Several months later I'm still regularly playing (with a Season 3 battle pass maxed out and a paid for copy of the full game). Here's some of the reasons I love it: Cross platform support + Free to play is a very powerful combination of systems. It means I have a group of around 10 friends, some playing on Xbox, some on PC and some on PS4. For no cost, we can group up and play together. I realise CoD isn't the first game to do this (looking at you Fortnite) but that doesn't detract from just how accessible this makes the game. Plus, the fact this game out shortly before the world went into lock-down and we were all lo

I'm back

In my search for a reliable space to write, that could also be customised enough to create a clean, minimalist theme I was led, full circle, back to Blogger. 7 Years since I last used this blog. 11 Years since I started it. And all my posts are still here (the several blogs I have had since this one have been lost for various reasons, mainly hosting my own WordPress blog and forgetting to back up the content before switching provider...) I'm back and this is where I'll be writing stuff. Mainly about games.

A noobs journey into DnD...

A few days ago I agreed to take part in a DnD game. So this is a documentation of, well, how it went and whether I learn anything related to game design from the experience! I've heard stories of many a game developer participating in DnD (The id teams lengthy game mentioned in the book " Masters of doom " for example!) so I hope participating will give me an opportunity to participate in a different style of gaming that may even result in learning about game design from a different angle. So I grabbed my battleaxe and dove right in! The basics The first meeting was pretty light the GM (a seasoned DnD veteran and experienced game designer) gave us the run down of how things work, expanding on the details he had given to us on the Facebook event page. Our IRL (in real life) party consists of myself, a game development tools QA tester with zero experience points in my DnD stat. A producer who also has zero experience. A lead QA tester with previous DnD experience