Shiodome Station, Christmas 2003
Shiodome Station, Christmas 2003

Marginalia is an eclectic compilation of links tailored for game developers. Links contributed by Amanda Lange, Ben Serviss and Raph Koster.

In this Christmas edition: why we should embrace luck, why some people like Beyond: Two Souls and how the Jump Point Search algorithm works.

Our Suggestions

Joel Goodwin suggests “Empathy in Game Design, or Why Some People Like Beyond: Two Souls” by Adrian Chmielarz. Chmielarz finds the design of Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream, 2013) to be lacking so tries to answer why many players found it engaging regardless. “Some people were Jodie,” he writes, “and some people were taking care of Jodie.”

Raph Koster suggests a look at signalling theory as he found it “fruitful for thinking about multiplayer dynamics and features”.

Joel Goodwin suggests “Ascension: a Case Study in Deckbuilding Games” (PDF) by Andy Nealen. An interesting examination of deckbuilding games which even touches on Neptune’s Pride (Iron Helmet Games, 2010).

Ben Serviss suggests the video “Debunking Luck” by Kevin Slavin. “It kind of veers around a bit,” he explains, “but all told it’s a worthwhile journey filled with some interesting data points that relates to Roger Caillois’ play types, so there is a direct connection to games.”

Raph Koster suggests The Game Crafter, a print on demand board game publisher, for prototyping.

Joel Goodwin suggests “Think Before You Stretch” by Yancey Strickler. Even the Kickstarter team are warning project creators to go easy on the stretch goals.

Amanda Lange suggests the site Powerhoof because of “all the neat pixel art and some tutorials on how they were made.”

Joel Goodwin suggests “Jump Point Search Explained” by Nathan Witner. Great explanation of the efficient Jump Point Search pathfinding algorithm.

Raph Koster suggests reading up on Oware, possibly the “most widespread game in the mancala family of games.” From the entry on Wikipedia: “Reflecting traditional African values, players of Oware encourage participation by onlookers, making it perhaps the most social two-player abstract. In recreational play, it is normal for spectators to discuss the game in progress and to advise the players.”

Joel Goodwin suggests “The Beautiful Art Program” by Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn. More personal and less confrontational than some of Tale of Tales’ previous presentations, you might find this helpful or inspirational if trying to make something off the beaten track.

Raph Koster suggests “Jack Vance & The D&D Game” by the late Gary Gygax. Gygax wrote about the influence of Jack Vance’s fiction on D&D.

The Saturday Paper

Michael Cook writes The Saturday Paper, which explores academic papers related to game development.

  • Dream Design. “Procedural content generation as a mechanic – what might that look like?”
  • Tower of Gamebel. On game description languages. Stephen Lavelle’s PuzzleScript and Tom Schaul’s PyVGDL.
  • Guaranteed Candy. “How on earth would you automatically test a physics puzzle game, for instance?”



Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

Sign up for the monthly Electron Dance Newsletter and follow on Twitter!

4 thoughts on “Marginalia 7

  1. It’s nice to see a followup to that “player-protagonist sync” post, which I found on Gamasutra originally. I couldn’t even begin to list all the way I disagreed with the post. But I haven’t actually played Beyond Two Souls yet. I just want to, based on the comments from people who liked it. I still feel like he doesn’t quite get it, but at least he gets that he’s not quite getting it.

  2. Oh I don’t know if I had anything to do with it! The concerns over stretch destroying projects have been bubbling for months and there was some academic study of Kickstarters done, one of the outcomes of which was to show stretch goals to a cause of delays (if I remember correctly?).

Comments are closed.