Now that I’ve had around a month writing this column and I’ve put up a bit of a backlog, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a bit more about my vision for the column in a way that wouldn’t have made a lot of sense right at the beginning.
There was a bit of a blitz of posts in the first month of this blog, as Dyl and I were eager to have plenty up for our readers right from the beginning. I’m planning to stick to my original schedule of one column every two weeks to ensure I don’t rush the process. I don’t want to write about every game I play, and you probably don’t want to hear about them all. This way I can pick the game I’m checking out that has the most potential to contribute and be an interesting read, and also have enough time to enjoy and study it. If I get some bonus columns out of other games in the meantime, I won’t shy away from posting them but, at least for the foreseeable future, expect something in this column Friday every other week (starting today!). Also, if there are any games or topics you really want to hear about, I will always consider requests (how very political of me).
So far, the column has covered a spread of game genres: a bit of roleplaying, a visual novel/puzzler, fast-paced action, and an fps-stealth game that multi-classes in a few other genres. Now I’m a roleplayer at heart (I think some part of me tries to roleplay in every game I play, no matter the genre), so this already represents a broadening of my personal horizons, but I see it only as the smallest of first steps. Thus far I’ve also stuck to (relatively) big name console games, and in the future I’d like to dip into the widening world of indie games, pc-focused games, mobile games, and even tabletop games. I think, for all the disparities between the different media, they all share the title of ‘games’ for a good reason, and I, being the greedy mad scientist that I am, want to learn from them all. Even if your personal interests lie in only one or a couple of these categories, I hope you’ll stick around, enjoy the discussion, and chime in with your own perspective.
The topics that have been covered in the column are certainly a mixed bag, though I admit a strong accidental inclination towards ‘player choice in games’ – chalk it up to the roleplayer in me. I’ve talked about JRPGs, pacing, game narrative, managing a difficulty curve, getting some basics right, and, as mentioned, lots of player choice. For each of these, I’ve really only begun to scratch the surface with examples from one or a couple games, but I think it’s a decent foundation for discussion. It’s my hope that more examples (and with your help, more perspectives on these topics and lessons) will build up as the column goes on. Together, we can go from the general to the specific, from broad topics to themes and elements that can easily be considered when actually designing a game, and ultimately right down to tools and building blocks for the game designer. I would enjoy occasionally consolidating discussions on a single topic in a separate column series at some point (organised by topic rather than game), but that will come later.
I probably sound a bit silly with grand visions of discussing all game genres and media, game design topics from big to small, but honestly I approach it all with a big helping of humility. There’s a lot to learn, and even as a lifelong gamer and part-time (hopefully full-time in the future) game designer, I’m excited by the vast wealth of things that are still out there to be learned, discovered and applied. But hey, isn’t that part of the beauty of being a gamer at heart? Always learning, trying things out, excited at what comes next. And if I can share all that with any of you out there reading this, then that’s perhaps the best co-op experience of all!