I made another trip up to Vancouver this week to give my encounter design talk to another developer we’re working with and once again it went very well.

As in the past, though, once I get thinking about this topic it’s hard to stop. This time, my ponderings have inspired me to do some related-fields type research and it’s been fascinating.

Basically the more I think about this topic the more I become convinced it should be possible to procedurally generate good combat encounters, including the level design the encounter takes place in. Because of this most of … Continue reading

They walked the earth…

Miyamoto talks about Super Mario Bros for 25th anniversary

This is an amazing article for a number of reasons, but it affected me deeply for one in specific:

Namely, it’s eye-opening to me to understand that these classic games were made by game designers.

It’s weird to say it, but up to this point (unbeknownst to me) I’ve been assuming these games just appeared in a vacuum, despite knowing the kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes of these things. For some reason, these great works – these pillars of game design history, seemed to me to … Continue reading

Idea: Using Movie Structure to Inform Game Design?

I’ve been reading a lot about storytelling recently. Besides rereading “Characters and Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card, the most recent ones I’ve read have been the “Save the Cat” books, by Blake Snyder (great reads, if you’re at all interested in screenwriting).

Snyder proposes a very analytical breakdown of the plots in movies. He has a list of 15 beats that appear in all popular movies (and they do… it’s almost scary) as well as a list of unconventional “genres” — essentially the different types of stories that movies tell. Within each genre, he further breaks down common elements and … Continue reading

GTA 4 Update and Rambling

I haven’t been playing GTA IV exclusively — there have been a few other games (and various other activities) taking up my time recently, but I’m trying.

After going through some more of the story, I’m really starting to get interested. It’s a bit easier to drive the cars now, though that may be just because I know which cars are pieces of shit and which cars are better to drive. I’m guessing it’s a measure of me getting better, as well.

Using cover makes the combat system much less offensive (when I can remember what button actually FUCKING does … Continue reading

Text Games

Even though they’re amazingly outdated, text-only games continue to be a big part of my life.

I’m currently playing an online text-only game called “Legend of the Green Dragon” — which is kind of a Minimally Multiplayer Online Game. It’s based on an old BBS game I used to play back in high school called “Legend of the Red Dragon.” In some ways its design is more modern, in other ways it still reflects the (sometimes, but not always) charming design flaws of that era.

The basic premise of the game is that you create a character who lives in … Continue reading

Wherein we sing “Puff the Magic Dragon”… or not

Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post. It feels like I wrote that thing fucking yesterday.

I blame daylight saving time.

I suppose I could continue my train of thought from the last one, but I’m like a five-year old when it comes to that. It’s a new week! I’m thinking NEW shit now.

Of course, after spending a few minutes in metacognition, I realize that I don’t have much new to say this week. Therefore, I’ll go off on a bit of a tangent from last week’s post:

Gamasutra has an interesting article on the … Continue reading


Every so often I pick up my copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, open it to a random page, and start reading. It’s quickly become one of my favorite books because usually when I do this style of random reading I notice something helpful that I didn’t notice before. This is usually because I have something weighing on my mind that reacts to something I read.

It gets me thinking… usually in a good way.

Last night I was musing about my work and the stress I was under. My mind kept going in circles, thinking about … Continue reading

Random Word Generator


It’s been a slow week for me, which is nice. Gives me a chance to decompress a little after the recent crunch, which is cool.

It also means that I have time to write here again, which is double cool.

Unfortunately for you all, that means I have time to post my senseless jumbles of random words, which for some reason people seem to enjoy reading.

So here we go:

There are few things in the world as sad as the plight of the European Speckled Flying Dolphin. While it is true that this animal has the distinguished honor … Continue reading


For your reading amusement, I present two original limericks:

There once was a young man named Ben
Who had himself only one hen
He tried to breed more
But he found himself sore
Because hens, it seems, can’t breed with men

An eager New Yorker named Beth
Cooked herself up a big batch of meth
She got proper fucked
For her recipe sucked
And exploded, resulting in death

I was originally gonna do another one but I couldn’t make it work. It was about a man banging a golden retriever.

But I … Continue reading

It’s nice to feel creative

So after more than a week of butting my head against design block, I finally had a good night where everything flowed well.

It’s an amazing feeling to finally feel creative after a long period of forcing it. I didn’t get out of work until about 12:45am, but I feel awesome.

I recently bought a new RPG book (Monte Cook’s D20 version of the World of Darkness, yum) and I’m reading through that and getting all kinds of ideas that I can use on my poor poor players.

It’s about fucking time. I was worried my muse had left me … Continue reading