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Posts Tagged ‘design principles’

Designing RPG Mechanics for Scalability

There is a secret known only to RPG developers, a gleaming nugget of knowledge unearthed anew through long struggle by each succeeding generation of would-be┬áRichard Garriotts and Shouzou Kagas. It is, simply: making RPGs is kind of a pain in the ass. I love making RPGs, but it’s true. The RPG is a ramshackle colossus […]

Tutorial: Making a Telepath Tactics Campaign, Part 21

<< Continued from Part 20 Creating a campaign that’s challenging, interesting, and fun One of my longtime fans on the Sinister Design forums recently asked me to write a tutorial entry talking not just about how to create a Telepath Tactics campaign, but how to create one that’s challenging, interesting, and fun. What follows is […]

Against the cult of simplicity

If you’ve spent any significant time going through my archive of design-focused articles, you probably know that I am allergic to dogmatic declarations about how to design games. Over the past four years, I’ve responded to calls to remove text from games, calls to remove story and attractive visual art from games, assertions that video […]

Unpredictability and control in turn-based combat: an examination

Unpredictability makes art interesting. Twists of plot, unconventional characterizations, and surprising character development engage a reader’s imagination; unique instrumentation, sudden shifts in time signature, or an unexpected chord progression delight the ear. So is it with games. Exploration, experimentation, discovery: all of these depend upon unpredictability, on gaps in the player’s familiarity with the game. […]

6 more ways to improve turn-based RPG combat systems

Almost exactly one year ago, I discussed the four virtues of a good turn-based combat system and shared 12 techniques that RPGs commonly overlook for achieving those virtues. Today, after a year of contemplation and careful design work, I feel ready to expand the list. What follows are 6 additional techniques that RPGs should start […]

Using Details to Craft a Coherent Game World

The RPG is an inherently inelegant creature. It is something of a Frankenstein monster, a suite of different gameplay systems stitched together into a shambling chimera. Character creation, simulated markets, item management, navigation, combat, stealth, dialogue, puzzles, class and skill trees–as a developer, it is difficult enough simply to make all of these systems, let […]

12 ways to improve turn-based RPG combat systems

In my last opinion piece, I provoked a certain subsection of the world of RPG enthusiasts by slaughtering a particularly sacred cow: the D&D-style combat system. A surprising number of people wrote in agreeing with me. Predictably, however, others responded in one of two ways: (1) “So you think a real-time, action-centered combat system is […]


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