Playing With Aesthetics: Introduction

Hi everyone! Des and I are excited to introduce a new column that we are going to be starting up called Playing With Aesthetics! A little while back, Des wrote a piece touching on the MDA framework which both of us find really interesting; it’s a great way to look at games. We have not seen much out there that tries to use this lens to categorically database games, so we are taking up the task! Continue reading

WILA Dragon’s Crown – Conveying Story Without Stopping the Action

Here in the WILA posts, I oscillate between picking out a single game mechanic and elaborating on its many design benefits, and highlighting a single theme or goal of a game’s design and picking out the design choices which serve that theme or goal in the game. For Dragon’s Crown, I’d like to do more of the latter and talk about how the game packs itself full of story (of the flavorful characters, locations and histories kind) without stopping the action.

But first, a generally non-controversial assertion: players like playing.

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Liebster Award

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Thanks to David and Holly over at Comparative Geeks for the nomination for the Liebster Award. We love the concept of these things. It is a great way to share the community with like minded people. Since we already did something very similar for the Sunshine Blogger award we will direct you to that article for good references and facts about us. The Liebster adds in some directed questions though, so we can add some additional info! Let’s see: Continue reading

WIHILA Dragon’s Crown – Designing with Visuals

Dragon’s Crown is Vanillaware’s latest masterpiece, and I plan to lose myself in it for many hours. It is an Action Beat ‘em-up style game, self-described as ‘Swords, Dungeons, Sorcery, Dragons’ with ‘gamemaster-style storytelling’. From Vanillaware’s past work (Odin Sphere, Grim Grimoire, Muramasa) I know to expect a beautiful, solidly-designed game.

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Changing Tools for Changing Environments

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This gaming experience was a good reminder that we live in a changing world. A tool that is amazing today may not be that relevant tomorrow and a company that is here today, may be gone tomorrow. Predicting the future can be near impossible but there are things we can do to face it optimistically. Continue reading

WILA Tales of Xillia – Player and Character Resonance

[Note from Destina: We’ve got a special guest writer this week – Florencia Minuzzi from teawithflo.com. She also happens to be my partner in a new game design venture. As a writer, I felt she was more qualified to step up and talk about today’s topic: creating resonance between the player and the main character of a narrative game. Nothing is really spoiled beyond the first few minutes of the game, but if you prefer to play knowing nothing, then you’ve been warned. I’ll leave the rest to her.]

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Going in Blind

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If you know you have to go in blind, can you do anything to tip the odds in your favor? Well, there are two broad strategies we can consider. One is the haphazard learner and the other is the optimized flexibility strategy. Continue reading

WILA Shin Megami Tensei IV – Money in an RPG

Hey everybody, apologies for the break, but vacations happen from time to time. I’m back, so let’s get started. While on holiday, I blazed through Shin Megami Tensei IV. I had a few things in mind to write about it, but when I read Dyl’s post last week I knew it was a good opportunity to follow up on theme.

While discussing the post last week with my brother, I hit upon the argument multiple times that some of his comments reflect something about him personally, but are also signs that the mechanic as a whole is a bit broken. By ‘the mechanic’ I mean money acquisition and purchasing of resources in most RPGs, and by ‘broken’ I mean that it ultimately just wasn’t accomplishing much in the game to justify its use as a mechanic. I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment, but instead of dwelling on the reasons for this, I would rather spend my words here focusing on how I think Shin Megami Tensei IV quietly improved on the standard.

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