Archive for Game Design

A look at Skyborn

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 whether the game itself would impress me.

It did and it didn’t. I played it all the way through, which is saying something. But for the most part, it left me thinking “eh, this was okay I guess.” Is it worth the price? You be the judge of that. Beyond these initial thoughts, this is not a review—my goal is to look at some of the design choices made in Skyborn and what we might learn from them when creating our own RPGs. Read more

A look at South Park: The Stick of Truth

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 might expect from that kind of show. And that continuity goes a long way towards making the world, characters and story of Stick of Truth so enjoyable, despite the relatively short (compared to most full-length RPGs) playtime.

But I’m not here to write a review of the game. You can find those all over the place. In fbb fashion, I want to take a hard look at the gameplay.

And South Park: Stick of Truth has some amazing RPG gameplay that went well above my expectations.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Gameplay-wise, Stick of Truth feels a lot like Paper Mario. And that’s a good thing—Paper Mario‘s not only one of my personal favorite games, but it’s a great example of an RPG battle system that promotes a lot of interactivity and gameplay that goes beyond scrolling through menus. Stick of Truth brings those same elements to its battle system while also innovating in a lot of ways that make the player feel good about what he’s doing. Even more—Stick of Truth goes beyond most RPGs in the ways it lets the player interact with the environment outside of battles. Read more

Your Fantasy Setting: The Law

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 put some thought into the laws of your game world. After all, at one point the hero finds himself in the castle’s dungeon—or something like that. And for most of the game your hero will be stealing from random people’s homes… that’s legal, right? Read more

Managing Resources Part Three

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 the implementation of resource systems.

Today’s subject is maybe the most important one in the series: making it fun for the player. Read more

A look at Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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: A Tale of Two Sons by Starbreeze Studios.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons by Starbreeze Studios.

Brothers tells the story of two brothers who go on a journey to find the tree of life in order to save their dying father. You control both characters simultaneously, in a unique single-player co-op control scheme (a controller is required). The game takes full advantage of its unique controls by incorporating them into the story and emotional development of the characters—and of the player. Read more

Managing Resources Part Two

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 differently. Today we’re going to expand on that knowledge and go deeper into the implementation and balancing of those resources. Read more