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Innovation in Game Design

I rarely listen to podcasts, I suppose because I think writing provides a more concentrated form of information. (I don’t read blogs much, either, preferring more formal articles.) It takes more effort to read something than to listen, but in a given amount of time I think reading something that has been carefully written about a topic is more effective than listening to a podcast, which by its nature can be diffuse rather than focused.

Recently I was asked to participate in a podcast, “Ludology,” with Ryan Sturm and Geoff Englestein, “a podcast about the why of gaming” (in their case, tabletop gaming). So I listened to some episodes before agreeing (it will be recorded in January). The podcast is quite focused, the hosts have a topic in mind, may have a guest, and they talk about that topic. There are no feedback segments or other distractions, just discussion of the topic and related topics.

A recent episode is about innovation and this set me to thinking about a topic that I think Does Not Matter in game design. Most game players Don’t Care either, but clearly some people do.

More December 2011 Miscellany

I expect I'll be at PrezCon in late February in Charlottesville, VA. I'm scheduled to talk about game design at 9PM Friday evening. This will be an hour of (mostly) me talking, then an hour or more of questions, answers, and discussion.

Another review of Dragon Rage, by Michael Barnes of fortressat.
Yes, it is expensive, though it will be carried once more by FunAgain and that eliminates the enormous shipping expense.

December Miscellany

December Miscellany

I've posted a long piece about teaching game design in my blog about teaching game design ( ) I decided it was not exactly suitable for this blog.

6 words about wargames

According to tweetdeck, one of the trending:worldwide topics on twitter is 6 word stories.

I've asked for 6 words about game designers and 6 about programmers in the past, with interesting results. Now I want to ask about a type of game.

Can you say in 6 words what makes wargames interesting--or not? (And you'll have to decide what "wargames" are.)


A young friend of mine asked me if I was interested in going to a mutual friend's house one evening to play Munchkin. There were several reasons I could not, but one was "it's too silly". Munchkin is a deliberately silly game. This is amusing for a little while, but after that it just gets in the way.

Yet, when I was playtesting one of my zombie games I said to the players, "it's a silly zombie game after all". But the silliness is of a different kind, and I asked myself what made the difference.

November 2011 Miscellany

Miscellaneous thoughts:

There is a longer version of my blog post "Too Many Choices?", called "How Many Choices are Too Many" on

Dragon Rage was recently near the top of "The Hoteness" on Boardgamegeek (#3 that I saw), MUCH to my surprise given the niche nature of the game. I was even more surprised, when I switched to the "Thematic" sub-section, that it wasn't in The Hotness at all. If Dragon Rage isn't a thematic game, what is?

When you start a game design, conceive a game, not a wish list

This is something that should be obvious, yet despite everything I’ve written about beginners designing games I have not said it explicitly. And I know from my teaching experience that to many people it isn’t obvious. It is especially important for people who want to design video games rather than tabletop games.

When you set out to design a game it’s important to know what you want that game to do, what the impact will be on the players. But it’s much more important to know how the game is going to do that.

Too many Choices?

Several people have pointed out that a major difference between wargames and Euro-style games is the number of (plausible) choices presented to a player when it is his turn.

Impressions of the new edition of Ancient Conquest I

The Britannia "game system" has been used in other published games such as Maharaja (Avalon Hill), Hispania (Azure Wish), Rus, and most recently Italia (Phalanx) and China: the Middle Kingdom (Decision Games). Some people categorize these and other games such as History of the World as “sweep of history” games. The original game of this category may have been Ancient Conquest, which was recently reissued.

Ways to Get Started on a New Game Design

There are some typical questions that come to mind in people who want to design games but haven't really done so yet. One of these is "how do you actually start a game"?

I have written about how games originate, what element starts the thought process. This time I want to focus on questions you can ask yourself, lists you can make, techniques you can use, rather than on specific aspects of the game.

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by Dr. Radut