Category: Game Design

A look at Skyborn

Mar 29 14

I recently played Skyborn. It’s one of the more attractive commercial RPG Maker games out there, and there’s been a lot of talk about it, mostly good. You can find it on Steam. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from Skyborn. I’m pretty critical of RPG Maker games, and despite the impressive steampunk aesthetic, I wasn’t sure […]

A look at South Park: The Stick of Truth

Mar 6 14

So yesterday I beat South Park: The Stick of Truth. I loved it. I’ve always been a fan of South Park—its blend of cultural satire and immature toilet humor usually works surprisingly well. And I enjoy how episodes often call back to previous episodes. There’s a continuity to the series, which isn’t something that people […]

Your Fantasy Setting: The Law

Feb 7 14

Yo. I haven’t written about Your Fantasy Setting in a while. Last time I did one of these, we talked about economy, and fleshing out your game’s world by thinking about the role of trade and currency. Today, let’s look at another aspect of your fantasy setting: the law. Sure, on some level, you’ve likely […]

Managing Resources Part Three

Jan 28 14

Today is the final part of a three-part article series about implementing and managing resources in your game. If you haven’t been following along, check out the first two articles in the series. Part one discussed the nature of resources in games, and went into some detail about different types. Part two dove deep into […]

A look at Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Dec 7 13

Two days ago, I finished playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Even before I finished the game, I felt like I wanted to write an article about it. After it ended, I needed some time to recover my emotions, but I knew that this game deserves a close look at its design. Brothers tells […]

Managing Resources Part Two

Nov 25 13

This is part two. If you haven’t read part one, check it out now. So let’s continue our discussion about resources and resource management. In the first part, I talked about different types of resources—primarily physical vs invisible resources—and how to recognize them, and how different types of players will recognize them and value them […]

Managing Resources Part One

Nov 15 13

Yo. Let’s talk about resources. And I’m not talking about resources on the developer’s end. We’re not talking about the graphics you’re creating for your project, or your computer power, or any of that stuff. Oh no—we’re talking about in-game resources. The resources that your player has to work with while playing your game. Elements […]

Difficulty: Challenge vs Frustration

Apr 10 13

Today’s topic is one that is important for all sorts of game design: difficulty. There’s lots of ways to make your game difficult, but unfortunately most of those ways are shortcuts that don’t lead to appealing gameplay. Lots of game developers will feel the need to make their game more difficult, so they add all […]

Writing Relationships: Romance

Feb 14 13

Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought I’d use the so-called “holiday” as an opportunity to talk about an element of story that makes its way into lots of games, but often seems to be thrown in as an afterthought. Characters are the heart of any story, and love is a core part of a character’s personality. It’s […]

Player Psychographics

Feb 7 13

This article is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I expect this article to be a big one (lengthwise, and content-wise)—and there’s a lot of stuff from it that might take some time to sink in. But this subject is something that I would very much like to introduce to the […]

Puzzle Design 2: Moving Parts

Dec 12 12

Welcome to the second part of my series on designing RPG puzzles. Last time, we went over some of the broad categories that different puzzles fall into. Today, we’re going to break things down a little further. Let’s talk about the elements that make up every puzzle in an RPG. Even the simplest of puzzles can […]

Puzzle Design 1: RPG Puzzle Types

Nov 11 12

Howdy. This is the first part of my new article series on puzzle design for RPGs. The goal of this series is to encourage critical thought about puzzle design as well as provide inspiration and motivation for the puzzles in your RPGs. Today, we are going to look at a few core types of puzzles […]

Your Game’s Identity

Sep 22 12

Howdy! I’ve been playing and reviewing RPG Maker games for over a decade, and it’s an unfortunate fact that very few of them stand out. It’s rare for an amateur RPG to feel original—and ever rarer to find one that really offers a unique experience. Most games are simply forgettable. The best way to ensure […]

Fuck Your Features: The Downside of Complexity in RPGs

Aug 22 12

Today’s topic is a good one (for me—maybe not for you). It’s a line that I’ve found myself repeating over and over again in response to many RPG Maker projects: “tone down the features”. A lot of amateur game designers will crowd their games with as many “features” as they can think of—the end result […]


Jul 25 12

Dungeons! Any RPG would be incomplete without them. The dungeons in your game are where the majority of the gameplay will take place—your dungeons are the meat of your game. You can expect your players to spend a lot of time—and a lot of thought—in your dungeons, so it’s important to make them stand out. […]

Enemy Encounters: What You’re Doing Wrong

Jul 13 12

Pretty much every RPG makes use of battle encounters as its primary gameplay mechanic. In some RPGs, battles are the only real gameplay in the whole game—I’ve seen lots of games where the whole purpose of walking around on some maps is to just go from one battle to another. Most of the time, your […]

Your Fantasy Setting: Economy

Jul 6 12

Most RPG Maker games take place within a fantasy world. Building these fantasy worlds can be one of the most fun and engaging parts of the RPG creation process! Drawing maps, creating cities, empires, and even unique races of people; developing your own fantasy setting is an integral part of creating your RPG. But if you […]

RPG Skills: What You’re Doing Wrong

Jul 1 12

It’s been a while since I’ve written a straightforward article about RPG Design; today I want to talk about something that is crucial in most RPGs. When done right, skills can be a lot of fun (for the player and the developer!), but when done wrong they can make an otherwise-good battle system become boring fast.

Making Memorable NPCs

Jan 26 12

Yo. Today I feel like talking about NPCs. I’ve played a lot of amateur RPGs and nearly all of them feature the same copy-paste “welcome to this town” NPCs. Lazy game developers will treat NPCs like scenery—like they’re just a part of the map and not living characters. The strange part is that people know […]

I Want to Write Good Characters

Dec 22 11

What is the most important part of a story? If you said “the characters” then congratulations—you’re right! At the heart of every story, in every medium (a book, movie, tv series, a game, or anything else with a story), are the characters. The characters are how we identify the story, how we interact with it, […]

Story Structure in Game Design

Dec 21 11

It’s time for me to talk about one of my favorite things: story structure! And i’m not being sarcastic, either—I was all about creative writing in college and I always got a huge hardon for story structure. the cool thing about it is that it’s everywhere! Every book you read, every movie you watch, every […]

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