Positional Game Design

JoelE recently posted some thoughts on “the differences in feel between Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2” which I found interesting, even though I haven’t played those games.

I am particularly impressed by the game JoelE invented to demonstrate his thesis:

To explore what kind of effect secondary military objectives have on games, I made a simple game that can be played on a chess board. Here are the rules:

  • 1s can move 1 space
  • 2s can move 2 spaces
  • 3s can move 3 spaces etc.
  • Green spaces upgrade from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, etc.
  • Each upgrade space can be only used once per piece.
  • To take a piece, move into it.
  • The game is lost when all pieces are gone

Here is a picture of the starting position of the game:

Secondary Objectives (JoelE)

If you guys want to try this game, and see how the upgrade spaces affect it, you can play on a chess board, using pawns for level 1, horses for level 2, bishops for level 3, queen for level 4, and king for level 5. You may need to improvise if you run out of pieces.

JoelE @ teamliquid.net

This is brilliant: re-purposing a chessboard as logic analyzer for computer game strategies.

Landscape architecture and game design

“Landscape architecture … reminds me of how game design — not just spatial design, but the designs of rules and systems — can shape player behavior.”

Tom Armitage recently posted some interesting observations on landscape architecture and game design:
Broadway Tower

Above the village of Broadway, in the Cotswolds, stands Broadway Tower. It’s a three-story-high structure, with three turrets: a folly which the Arts and Crafts movement would later use as a holiday retreat. And yet when it was built, in the 18th century, its purpose was not to be an attractive tower to overlook the village.

Rather, it was designed to look good from 22 miles away, from the grounds of the Earl of Coventry. Lovely as it is, its real job is to be a romantic piece of background scenery on the horizon.

It was built by the architect James Wyatt, under the supervision of Capability Brown, who was perhaps the foremost landscape architect in English history. Brown’s work reshaped gardens and grounds into carefully designed views for the owners of houses, and defined what landscape architecture itself could be.

We talk a lot about the influence of architecture on game design …. We can all see the influence on games of a medium in which geometric form and structure is used to influence behavior and manipulate the movement of people through space. It feels like there’s an obvious comparison between architecture and the design of three-dimensional game levels.

But I think landscape gardening is perhaps a much more interesting comparison point for the structure of game spaces, and one that is oft-neglected.

Landscape architecture shapes the behavior and intent of its observers without walls or markers. Instead, it focuses on surprise and delight: as your eye follows the gentle slope of a path down to a lake, it should feel like you discovered this. It feels like a coincidence of marvellous proportions, a secret that you discovered, that the eye is led so gracefully. In fact, it’s a carefully designed experience.

This reminds me of how game design — not just spatial design, but the designs of rules and systems — can shape player behavior.

Tom Armitage @ Kill Screen