quinta-feira, 26 de março de 2015

Game Balance

In this post, we’re going to discuss some ideas about game balance. A good mechanic and a great narrative can be destroyed if unbalanced inside the gaming universe. The logical here moves between many beta tests and iterative processes.

Rollings and Morris (2004, p.105-106) say there are three essential types of categories when we are talking about gaming balance:

Player/player balance: we can find this kind of balance in multiplayer games (Destiny, Call of Duty, Battlefield etc.). The system creates situations for newbie and experienced players trying to create a scenario of good opportunities for all. Luck is an important component here and should be available to all players.

Player/gameplay balance: this type of game usually offers a learning curve to the players. One important thing here is to develop a crescendo of challenges with some key process for the player. The more the player advances in the narrative, the more he/she has information to survive the challenge. The logical behind procedural rhetoric is finding here (http://gamingconceptz.blogspot.com.br/2013/01/procedural-rhetoric-and-games.html)

Gameplay/gameplay balance: “means that features within the game must be balanced against each other”. This balance refers to things inside the gaming world and narrative; if a special weapon causes triple damage, sounds logic to cost three or more times than one that causes double damage. This kind of guide helps us to explore balance in the beta testing sessions. It’s important to thoroughly test the game to detect errors at first, but it is essential to create a balance that will generate a great experience for the player, while the game is running.

Reference: ROLLINGS, Andrew; MORRIS, Dave. Game Architecture and Design. New Riders: Indianopolis, 2004.

terça-feira, 17 de março de 2015

Linear Gameplay

I want to share more knowledge from Penny Sweetser’s book Emergence in Games. Today, we’ll try to define the idea of “linear gameplay”. The logic behind a linear gameplay is that it’s a game that doesn’t offer much sense of freedom to the player. Sometimes the player could have a false sense of freedom, but as Sweetser says (2008, p.56) “the key elements of linear games are an underlying story to be discovered, puzzles to solve along the way, and a limited and predetermined set of ways to interact in the game world”.

We can find this kind of game in the classic Sonic the Hedgehog or in the new The Order 1886. Let’s check these games out to understand this idea in different moments of the gaming industry:

In the previous video, we can discuss another idea from Sweetser (2008, p.56), that “despite the continuous nature of the game worlds and the resulting freedom of movement and exploration, player interactions in these worlds are still very limited”.

We already talked about interactive fiction in a post, few weeks ago. Today, we discuss linear gameplay and soon we will analyze sandbox games based on the ideas from the excellent book Emergence in Games.


SWEETSER, Penny. Emergence in Games. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2008.

quarta-feira, 11 de março de 2015

High level of difficulty as a game design component

Dark Souls, Demons Souls, Lords of the Fallen and even the simple mobile game Flappy Bird have one thing in common: a challenging gameplay with a high level of difficulty. Destined to a specific kind of player, this type of game invites to a deeper gameplay experience.

Another game that suits as an example for this discussion is PHASES: INFINITE ZERO (Ketchapp, US, 2014). In this game, you command a small ball to the left and to the right, trying to escape from every black piece on the interface. Check the gameplay below:

A ludic experiment like PHASES puts the idea of procedural rhetoric in another landing place. As Bogost says (2007, p.3) “just as verbal rhetoric is useful for both the orator and the audience, and just as written rhetoric is useful for both the writer and the reader, procedural rhetoric is useful for both the programmer and the user, the game designer and the player”.

We discussed about anxiety as a game design component in another post. The subject of this post complements this idea and gives us some new ways to think about gaming creative processes, and teaches us how to work bad feelings in a ludic way.


BOGOST, Ian. Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. MIT Press, 2007.

terça-feira, 3 de março de 2015

Thomas Was Alone: a gaming masterpiece

In 2010, I played a strange indie game created with Adobe Flash, in which you command a group of squares with special powers, trying to solve puzzles with these pieces. In that occasion, I played the game a few times and never remembered the name of it.

Five years later, during a board game session, a friend of mine evoked this game again: Thomas Was Alone. I downloaded it for PS4 and now I’m experiencing the game in a whole new scenario of interactive possibilities.

Thomas Was Alone is an indie puzzle platform video game created by Mike Bithell and nowadays it’s possible to play it also in Android, PlayStation 3, iOS and other platforms. The idea is simple: you command squares with “special powers” (one with high level jump, other with swimming abilities etc.) and, level by level, you need to fit the characters in their correspondent slots.

Wait. Did you say characters? Yes. Thomas Was Alone, besides its abstract conception, has an incredible narrative focus. There’s a very interesting storytelling behind the simple square forms, talking about technology, freedom, ideology and relationship.

Check the trailer and the gameplay:

This kind of game teaches us how to balance mechanics and simple graphics with immersive story. Thomas Was Alone is a class of elegant game design. If you have never played it, I strongly recommend it.