Monday, December 9, 2013

Against High Skill Ceilings

Max writes about the common assumption that taking forever to master is a desirable design feature in board games, and why this assumption is wrong.  Easy-to-learn, hard-to-master games like Chess and Go are great, but they're not what most gamers want.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Choice-Feedback Response Time

Max continues and extends the discussion of tactics and strategy.  Why are rogue-likes similar to board games?  How are esports unlike many video games?  Read on to find out.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hidden Scoring

Max considers the drawbacks of both hiding players' scores during competitive board games that utilize victory points, and displaying those scores.  He then brings up his favorite notable middleground solutions and discusses when they can be used effectively in designs.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Primer On Exceptions

Max investigates exceptions in nondigital games, and exception-based design.  He tries to answer the questions: What's an exception, what games have exceptions, and what makes these games more or less playable by various audiences?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Designing for Tactics and Strategy

Max writes about the differences between tactical, short term choices and strategic, long term decisions.  Many games' appeal rely on intersection between of these elements, so Max discusses the design of good tactical mechanics, the design of good strategic mechanics, and what to do if your game is lacking one or the other.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Game Enhancing Players

In Most Dangerous Game Design's first ever guest post, Leah Nicolich-Henkin writes about her experience with Game Enhancing Players - what they are, what they do, and what they mean for players and game designers!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Game Designer's Toolbox - Scaffolding

Take a look at these awesome card versions of Max's choice scaffolding post!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Know Your Audience: Scotland Yard vs. Letters from Whitechapel

This week Max compares classic board game Scotland Yard to its contemporary Fantasy Flight counterpart Letters from Whitechapel in order to analyze why focusing your game's target audience can be helpful. (Hint: it's because when a designer knows who she is designing for, the design can be much more tailored to that audience's desires and use cases.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Design Comparison: SolForge vs. Magic: the Gathering

Max analyzes the design choices made in Magic: the Gathering and new digital collectable card game SolForge.  He compares the games on three axes: deckbuilding, gameplay, and cost to play/acquiring cards.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stacking the Deck and Other Tricks for Demoing Games

For the first of a two-week series of lessons from Gen Con, Max discusses ways to effectively demo games, including why he whole-heartedly recommends stacking the deck with no moral quandaries!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Readers Ask - Expansions as Scaffolding?

In the first Readers Ask segment ever on Most Dangerous Game Design, Max responds to the question "Are expansions a form of scaffolding?" as a followup to Monday's post discussion of easing new players into boardgames though choice scaffolding.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scaffolding Choice: How to Ease Players Into A Game's Choices

In this week's post, Max elaborates on the number one design tip from July's post on designing game learning: designing scaffolding into the learning experience.  Max discusses what scaffolding is, why it's important, and some tips and tricks for designers to design scaffolded learning into their games.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Learning to Ignore Playtesters

In a rare non-theory post, Max gives concrete advice for knowing when to make changes based on playtesting experiences and when to ignore problems that playtesters find.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Psychology of Rewards in Games

In this week’s doozy of a post, Max discusses what’s going on psychologically when games reward their players. During the discussion, Max explains reward schedules, the overjustification effect, and what both psychological phenomena mean for game designers. He also tackles the age-old question, “are variable ratio reward schedules inherently nefarious design?” and answers with a resounding “no!”

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Cardinal Sins of Action RPG Design

In this post Max discusses what makes for good digital action role-playing games, and the cardinal sins that good games commit and end up making them less fun.  Max highlights the clever and captivating design of: Borderlands 2, Skyrim: Dawnguard, and Space Pirates and Zombies, and how committing these cardinal sins mars that design.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Designing Game Learning

This week on Most Dangerous Game Design Max and Nick discuss the problems with learning games from rulebooks, and then delve into ways to overcome these problems, both proven and untested.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Challenges of Competition

In this tag team post, Nick and Max discuss the challenges of using human competition to drive the fun of games, especially non-digital ones. They offer 5 solutions that they see working in games and discuss which of them they think work best.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Come Out and Play 2013: A reminder that games are more than mechanics

Max writes about his design takeaways from this year's Come Out and Play festival in NYC--primarily the importance of often-undervalued elements of game design: ritual, theme, and atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fixing Multiplayer in Magic: the Gathering

Today Max discusses the design flaws present in multiplayer Magic: the Gathering (and other deathmatch-style multiplayer games).  He investigates current ways to rectify them, and then proposes his own new variant: Vengeance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Engine Building and Power Curves

Max writes about the paradox of the desire to let players feel good by gaining power quickly in board games, while at the same time not letting them pull ahead of their opponents.  He discusses the use of "asymptotic" power progression, why it's desirable, and gives examples of mechanics that designers can utilize to achieve this type of progression.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Heroines in Dota 2

Max writes about problems with the representations of female heroes in one of his favorite games: the extremely popular Dota 2.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Announcing Powerhouse

Most Dangerous Game Design is thrilled to announce the first print and play prototype of our new game PowerhousePowerhouse is unique because it's a deckbuilding card game that uses only 26 cards.  Intrigued?  Learn more about the design process and try out the game!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pucatrade and the Return of Market-Driven Magic: the Gathering

Max writes about Pucatrade, an innovative Magic: the Gathering card trading website, its potential for changing the face of Magic, and its relevance to his design of the "Budget Magic" format.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Competition in Games

Max proposes a way of classifying competition in games, and discusses why even the most seemingly noncompetitive games can still offer players the thrill of competition.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Theme as Conceptual Model

Nick offers a definition of "theme" and explores the function of theme in board game design. He proposes that we think of theme as a conceptual model for gameplay mechanics instead of a wrapper that makes a game appealing of engaging at first glance.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Meta Strip Poker

Max proposes a firefly-inspired betting system for gambling games that allows players to bet apples against oranges.  He then sketches a card game that could use this system: Meta Strip Poker, where the players play players playing strip poker.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wards with Fiends

For Most Dangerous's latest vaporware design project, Nick and Max sketch out the concept of Wards with Fiends: a social game where you get to send nasty "presents" to wreck your friends' stuff.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Do You Want To See On MDGD?

As you may have noticed, Most Dangerous Game Design hasn't been updating every week recently.  We plan to shortly return to a post-every-Monday schedule.  While our main barrier isn't lack of content, to help add structure to our updates we want to start a regular segment for your reading pleasure.  Our ideas are below. Please use the form under the options to vote on which you would like to read, or to suggest a different idea!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Instant Gratification in Digital Games

Iron DukesWhy is headshotting opponents in shooting games so appealing?  Why do sneak attack gameplay styles exist in many digital games?  Max (briefly) discusses short term digital game mechanics that hook players through immediate feedback.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Designing Puzzles that Make Players Feel Smart

What do Jeopardy and Portal have in common? How can game designers make puzzle games that make players feel smart, without being too hard for some or too easy for others?  Max discusses the answers  to these questions, and why Continuity is a paragon of clever puzzle game design.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Make Games For Everyone

In this post Max examines designing games for casual audiences. What kinds of mechanics do they find interesting? What kinds of mechanics make them disengage with the game? Which games are well designed for casual audiences, and which are not?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Charades and its Descendants

Nick explores the relaionship between Charades and other party games in the same family, discusses what makes them fun, and speculates about expanding this genre in the future.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dota 2 Introduces Solution to Combat Stagnation

Max comments on Dota 2's new solution to players always playing the same hero--Least Played mode--and how it relates to his market-driven bonus gold concept.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bonuses for Innovation in Dota 2

Max revisits his solution to one type of stagnation in competitive games by applying it to the popular multiplayer online battle arena game Dota 2 by Valve.