My yearly thoughts on the game design process.

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Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Aug 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/20/96
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Here are this year's top ten thoughts on game design. Drum roll, please.

10. I look forward to the day when I get a job as a game designer, and
only have to design games instead of programming them. Implementation is
death for the fun in game design.

9. If you find yourself tempted to add just one more puzzle to your game
before releasing it. RESIST! If I could learn to follow my own thoughts
on the matter, my implementation time would be cut in half.

8. And now for Murphy's Rules of IF:

1) Anything that can go wrong, did, at compile time. You just didn't
notice.
2) Players will break your game. Often in embarrassing ways.
3) Somewhere out there is a MiSTing with your game's name on it.
4) Somewhere out there is a critic who already hates your game, even if
no one else knows of its existance besides you.
5) You will miss your deadlines. My GOD will you miss your deadlines.
6) By the time you finish writing your three-year long game, you will
hate the beginning of it, since you've gotten to be a better writer in
those three years. So, you will rewrite it, which will take 3 years. Add
water. Stir. Repeat.
7) If your game is really good, you might sell a copy. Maybe two.
They give you an award if you manage to pawn three copies off on
unsuspecting players. No one has gotten an award in years.
8) Somewhere out there is someone whose computer, calculator, or watch
will not play your game. They hate you for this, and always will. One
day, they will poison your cat.
9) Whatever you name your game, someone will name a car after it.
Before you finish writing it, most likely.
10) When you show your game to a friend, you will, inevitably, no matter
how hard they resist the urge, hear the phrase, "It would be really cool
if it had graphics."

7-1. To be continued.
--
<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< Join in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition. | ~~\ >
< The Deadline is September 30, 1996. Enter, judge, betatest or ?? | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu_|_\__/__>

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
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Gerry Kevin Wilson (whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu) wrote:

> 10. I look forward to the day when I get a job as a game designer, and
> only have to design games instead of programming them. Implementation is
> death for the fun in game design.

I disagree (although this may because I leave as much design as possible
undone, so I can do it intermingled with the implementation. "As much as
possible" isn't a whole lot, but I do try.)

And, I've been a game programmer working with a game designer. In real
life. The conclusion is, it's really a partnership. I was constantly
going to his cubicle to work stuff out. The designer is going to have to
worry about implementation just as much as the programmer worries about
design. (Meaning, lots.)

9 and 8 are dead on. You will note that I never announced _So Far_,
although I alluded to it a couple of times. I only set one deadline,
which was "I'll handle this last batch of bug reports and release
publically in two weeks." I succeeded, but if I had tried to predict
*more* than two weeks in advance, the results would have been
embarrassing.

My only addition is "Everyone who likes your game understood it; everyone
who didn't like it missed the point, and really wasn't the sort of person
you were talking to anyway. If necessary, hire a slave to whisper this
fact into your ear over and over."

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
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Bob, you're our resident crusty old man, aren't you?

Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>> 1) Anything that can go wrong, did, at compile time. You just didn't
>>notice.

>Not true, the bugs were there in the first place - compiling just proved
>you had a lousy compiler.

What? Bugs in text games are due to design or programming error
better than 95 percent of the time. I don't *want* a compiler that
will try to catch that you can't get back to the throne room after
getting the sceptre from the dungeon, because (a) it would take all
year to compile, and (b) it would be forever throwing spurious error
messages.

>> 2) Players will break your game. Often in embarrassing ways.

>If this happens, then you should've employed better playtesters.

I want playtesters to make the game explode every time they sit down
at it. Makes it a better game for the non-beta audience.

>> 3) Somewhere out there is a MiSTing with your game's name on it.

>Eh? Doesn't seem to compute into english, as spoken on this side of the
>Atlantic...

He's referring to C.E. Forman's "MST3K1", which parodies an old AGT
game, "Detective." It's drop-deal hilarious, and a new version just
came out. ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/infocom/mst3k1.z5

>> 5) You will miss your deadlines. My GOD will you miss your deadlines.

>So don't set any.

A lot of people don't work well this way. I'm a journalist, and I
rarely finish a story more than 24 hours before deadline. Most other
reporters I know work the same way. If you don't set goals, you won't
miss them, but you won't hit them, either.

But the part about the cat was funny.

Matthew

Bob Adams

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Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
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In article <4vbft2$j...@agate.berkeley.edu>, Gerry Kevin Wilson
<whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> writes

>
>Here are this year's top ten thoughts on game design. Drum roll, please.
>
>10. I look forward to the day when I get a job as a game designer, and
>only have to design games instead of programming them. Implementation is
>death for the fun in game design.

The implementation is all part of the games development; some of my best
ideas have come whilst I was in the middle of programming.

>
>9. If you find yourself tempted to add just one more puzzle to your game
>before releasing it. RESIST! If I could learn to follow my own thoughts
>on the matter, my implementation time would be cut in half.

In the old days of 8 bit programming, the limiting factor was what you
could squeeze into 48/64k and what you could afford to leave out! Life
was so much simpler then...

>
>8. And now for Murphy's Rules of IF:
>

> 1) Anything that can go wrong, did, at compile time. You just didn't
>notice.

Not true, the bugs were there in the first place - compiling just proved
you had a lousy compiler.

> 2) Players will break your game. Often in embarrassing ways.

If this happens, then you should've employed better playtesters.

> 3) Somewhere out there is a MiSTing with your game's name on it.

Eh? Doesn't seem to compute into english, as spoken on this side of the
Atlantic...

> 4) Somewhere out there is a critic who already hates your game, even if


>no one else knows of its existance besides you.

You cannot please all of the people...

> 5) You will miss your deadlines. My GOD will you miss your deadlines.

So don't set any.

> 6) By the time you finish writing your three-year long game, you will


>hate the beginning of it, since you've gotten to be a better writer in
>those three years. So, you will rewrite it, which will take 3 years. Add
>water. Stir. Repeat.

Before beginning to program anything, you should've first decided on the
start and the end. If you then decide to change any of those, you
shouldn't have begun in the first place.

> 7) If your game is really good, you might sell a copy. Maybe two.
>They give you an award if you manage to pawn three copies off on
>unsuspecting players. No one has gotten an award in years.

Does an award in 1992 count?

> 8) Somewhere out there is someone whose computer, calculator, or watch
>will not play your game. They hate you for this, and always will. One
>day, they will poison your cat.

Great! Never did like ol' Tiddles.

> 9) Whatever you name your game, someone will name a car after it.
>Before you finish writing it, most likely.

Ever seen a car called Helvera or Grue-Knapped? No, me neither.

> 10) When you show your game to a friend, you will, inevitably, no matter
>how hard they resist the urge, hear the phrase, "It would be really cool
>if it had graphics."

I choose my friends more carefully.

--
Bob Adams
http://www.amster.demon.co.uk

Mark J Musante

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Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
to

Bob Adams (ams...@amster.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> In article <4vbft2$j...@agate.berkeley.edu>, Gerry Kevin Wilson
> <whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> writes
> >
> >Here are this year's top ten thoughts on game design. Drum roll, please.
> >
> >10. I look forward to the day when I get a job as a game designer, and
> >only have to design games instead of programming them. Implementation is
> >death for the fun in game design.

> The implementation is all part of the games development; some of my best
> ideas have come whilst I was in the middle of programming.

I have to second this.

> >
> >9. If you find yourself tempted to add just one more puzzle to your game
> >before releasing it. RESIST! If I could learn to follow my own thoughts
> >on the matter, my implementation time would be cut in half.

> In the old days of 8 bit programming, the limiting factor was what you
> could squeeze into 48/64k and what you could afford to leave out! Life
> was so much simpler then...

[ vitrolic responses to GKW's humorous list deleted ]

Interesting, Bob. Get up on the wrong side of the planet, did we?

- Mark

JlB1925

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Aug 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/23/96
to

>> 3) Somewhere out there is a MiSTing with your game's name on it.

>Eh? Doesn't seem to compute into english, as spoken on this side of the
>Atlantic...

Groucho: You do know what an auction is?
Chico: I cumma from Italy onna the Atlantic Auction.
;-D
A MiSTing, also known as a MySTification, is when someone takes a basic
principle from Mystery Science Theater 3000 - that is, take anything you
think was horrible or didn't work and have three robots beat the hell out
of it with sarcastic comments - and puts it to good use on something.
In other words, he's saying "Somewhere out there is a malicious author
just waiting to get a copy of your game so he can add rude, angry,
sarcastic and cynical comments to it and attribute it to people named Tom,
Crow, and that other robot I don't remember the name of, all in the name
of laughs and making you cry yourself to sleep at night."
---
Liam Burke
"The Super-Clean Pill: No one knows exactly what this is, but after
taking it bubbles come out of the Troubleshooter's mouth and his hair
smells food-vat fresh."
-Paranoia Rule Supplement Dealing with MBDs

Den of Iniquity

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Aug 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/26/96
to

On Wed, 21 Aug 1996, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> Gerry Kevin Wilson (whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu) wrote:
> > 10. I look forward to the day when I get a job as a game designer, and
> > only have to design games instead of programming them. Implementation is
> > death for the fun in game design.
> I disagree (although this may because I leave as much design as possible
> undone, so I can do it intermingled with the implementation. "As much as
> possible" isn't a whole lot, but I do try.)

I _agree_ but only so far as wishing I had a job as a game designer.
Programming seems to beyond me at anything but the most simple level.
Ideas locked up inside with nowhere to go. I buy some games for the sole
reason that they come with level editors...

Anybody wanna write my game? No, I thought not. Back to the inform
manual. Maybe I should try and learn that C language again. Kernighan and
Ritchie wasn't it? ...book costs _how_ much?

--
Den
(warning: extremely long .sig follows...

-snip here--8<----------------------------------------------snip here--8<----

Constant Story "Waiting for Avalon";
Constant Headline "^A not particularly interactive exercise in patience.^^";

Include "Parser";
Include "Verblib";

Object Waiting_Room "Waiting Room"
with name "waiting" "room",
description "The waiting room.",
has light;

[ Initialise;
location = Waiting_Room;
print "^^^^^Avalon hasn't been released yet - you could try waiting...^^";
];

[ AvawaitSub; "Time passes. Avalon doesn't get released."; ];
[ AvaInvSub; "You haven't got Avalon yet"; ];

Include "Grammar";

Extend "wait" replace
* -> Avawait;
Extend "inv" replace
* -> AvaInv;
end;

Allison Weaver

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Aug 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/27/96
to

On Mon, 26 Aug 1996, Den of Iniquity wrote:

> Anybody wanna write my game? No, I thought not. Back to the inform
> manual. Maybe I should try and learn that C language again. Kernighan and
> Ritchie wasn't it? ...book costs _how_ much?

Well my copy from 1987 was $27 (ack!) and that was softcover. (No, my
memory's not that good - I never got around to pulling off the price
sticker.)

Allison

Matthew Miller

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Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

In rec.arts.int-fiction, Bob Adams (ams...@amster.demon.co.uk) writes:
: In article <4vbft2$j...@agate.berkeley.edu>, Gerry Kevin Wilson
: <whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> writes
: > 3) Somewhere out there is a MiSTing with your game's name on it.

: Eh? Doesn't seem to compute into english, as spoken on this side of the
: Atlantic...

Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka MST3k, where they watch bad movies and
make fun of them, and where the cast members are dropping out like flies.

: > 5) You will miss your deadlines. My GOD will you miss your deadlines.


: So don't set any.

You DON'T set any--your dunderheaded boss does! ;)

: > 10) When you show your game to a friend, you will, inevitably, no matter


: >how hard they resist the urge, hear the phrase, "It would be really cool
: >if it had graphics."
: I choose my friends more carefully.

Sorry--all `friends' are now mentally conditioned to complain about lack
of graphics.

--
Matthew Miller -- rmi...@infinet.com

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