About Gaming’s Alembic

This blog is about the refinement of game design.  Mostly of video games, but I’ll stray into the domain of other sorts of games from time to time, as well.  I believe that, in order to design better games, and in order for the art form to advance, it is necessary to carefully analyze games, how they work, and how people play them.  More on that here.

Note that this is quite different from game programming.  Programming is about making the computer do what you’ve decided it should do; design is about deciding how the game should work in the first place.  I happen to know a fair bit about computer programming, as well, and I think it’s helpful for a game designer to understand programming (if only to get a clearer idea of what’s possible), but this blog isn’t about programming.

Those wondering what on earth an “alembic” is may wish to consult wikipedia on the topic.  More information about why that metaphor was chosen in this post.

In the interests of disclosure, I should mention my known biases.  I tend to favor strategy and role-playing games, though I play quite a few action and adventure games, as well.  I am not at all enamored with realism for realism’s sake in games (it’s not that I dislike it, I just don’t value it).  I tend to want every game I play to have perfect competition, in the sense of being fair to all parties and possessing strategic depth, and in particular for games to continue to function even if every player is willing to go to any (legal) lengths to win.

I also tend to want games to have consistency of design philosophy; if a game is designed to offer a certain type of appeal, it should offer it throughout the game (rather than, say, only after you reach level X) and to all skill levels (rather than locking out newbies or becoming trivial to experienced players).  I believe this helps ensure that whatever set of players finds the game appealing will not end up being frustrated by major parts of the game.

I don’t expect everyone to share my preferences, but I’m going to focus on the kinds of gameplay and appeal that I think I best understand.

You can contact me by email, or through comments on the blog.

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