And as long as we're at the lists for game design students, this one might come in handy as well: A list of 20 game design blogs that students will love:
As video games continue to rise in popularity, game designers are being asked to create even more challenging and satisfying user experiences. Game design students are looking for information on the latest tips, tricks and techniques to help you take your games to the next level. Fortunately, there are several high-quality game design blogs to help guide your studies, skill development and provide you with the latest trends in the field.
Of the many game design blogs in cyberspace, we selected 20 that we think you’ll find useful now and long after you earn a game design degree.
I would, however, add three other blogs worth checking out:
- The Border House Blog: Yes, it has a clearly feminist twang, and don't always agree with them. But the point is: this blog keeps on reminding you that there are female, gay and lesbian players out there that do not constantly have to be reminded of their non-mainstream existence just because you, the game designer, once again designed the game to fit the wet dreams of a heterosexual 13-year old male …
- Robert Yang: Game Designer at the Parsons University in New York – provides thoughtful analysis of games, level design and general out-of-the-box-thinking.
- Terra Nova: This clearly goes into the realm of game studies – as such, the articles are usually rather long and contain convoluted words. Never fear!
Yes, so maybe I like reblogging Robert Yang's posts. Like, a lot. But the point is: he writes good stuff. In this case, it is about level design. And in my opinion, it is pretty clever idea.
Based on a presentation by Randy Smith on "Level Building for Stealth Games", Robert Yang creates a system do design levels based on valence.
In this way, Randy Smith's "valence theory" (NOTE: again, he never called it that, but I am) posits that different parts of a room or level can afford stealth mechanics: level elements can have a POSITIVE [+] valence (shadowy, quiet, stealth-friendly) or NEGATIVE [-] valence (bright, noisy, not stealth-friendly).
Scattering those elements with their valence over the level can give you an overview of how the level will be traversed.
Robert Yang kindly asked me to translate the article about my level design considerations for my bachelor's thesis game. I'm slightly afraid that he is going to be disappointed, since this is not so much a theoretical approach to architecture and level design in general, but rather my thoughts and motivations for creating the specific level architecture for my own game.
When starting to design the level, I considered the following points to be the main guiding lines:
With the game being a serious game and a bachelor's project, I have neither the time (now) nor the money (in the future, when, hopefully, I'll be able to finish and publish the game) to create a large, open world.
Robert Yang stumbled over a quote by Jim Sterling recently:
Jim Sterling: "Arcade Gannon’s sexuality isn’t a big deal, and that’s how videogames should play it."
... and it made him not exactly happy:
The argument that [all] gay video game characters should downplay their sexuality might be well intentioned, but is ultimately representative of the most dangerous kind of homophobia -- a homophobia wrapped in intellectualism, appearing "tolerant."
True, sexuality isn't the only thing that defines a person -- but for the vast majority of LGBT people, I would argue that it's a crucial part of personal identity. To insist that effeminate gay men are "camping it up" and should just "be normal" is homophobia. [...]
Sterling is proposing selective blindness and a glass closet for ALL gay characters in ALL games as a model to emulate. Yeah, stay invisible and don't make a fuss! That always works.
I must admit, that I'm pretty fed up by the mostly campy portrayals of gays in games (when they make they final cut, that is), so I would tend to go with Jim Sterling's advice when designing games myself right now, but yes:
For every silent shoegazer hipster gay who "you'd never think", we also need a muscle queen dancing in a peacock speedo on top of a Ferrari. Because they're gay too.
Go read the whole article, because it provides a balanced view on an important debate.
And it should be an issue.
... is, apparently, something Tale of Tales are rather good at. Robert Yang has a neat timeline of the current events. And it is not the first time they make people angry.
Of course, you can debate the value of their provocations, you can debate their contribution to game culture –
Tale of Tales is important and interesting... but also kind of not. Their conception of video games seems really narrow, perhaps out of necessity in order to target it effectively in their crazy dogmatic manifestos.
– the thing is: there is a discussion about what games are and what not. People might consider them to be wrong. But people might also consider Blizzard to be wrong, inasmuch as they pretty much only polish up the games they did ten years ago.1
No matter how aggravating/boring this argument may seem: It is important that it is discussed. Every game designer that plays a Tale of Tales game will either see how games could be made as well – or she or he will realise how games are not to be designed. Either way: everybody learns.
Here’s to the crazy ones, so to speak.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
Just an example, I am not trying to flame anyone here. Not much, anyway. ↩
Or: How Much Are We Letting Reality Getting Into the Way When Designing Games?
Yes, by now Robert Yang's article about the gay plot in Dragon Age has made the rounds elsewhere, but I think the issue is important enough to warrant publishing it here as well.
So, Robert Yang mods Dragon Age so his male character can play out the romance plot with another male character, Alistair – something, which only can be done by modding the game, even though the dialogue is surprisingly gender neutral. All is perfect, until ...