video game design

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An Attempt to Define Fun – Effort/Feedback Ratio

By | Game Design | No Comments

What is “fun”?  Can the concept even be defined and broken down into a few key components?  I’ve had the amazing fortune to work professionally in the video game industry for 20 years, and in my career have seen this topic come up in countless design meetings and brainstorm sessions, usually leading to pointless arguments about who is the most up-to-date on current trends and which competing games have sold the most – as if this is some holy grail of how to measure the fun factor of a game.  The tough thing is that it seems everyone has a different perspective of what fun is and how to design for it.  I can’t say that I have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts that I’d like to share with you – mostly because my partner and wife, Anna, is tired of hearing me rant about it all the time and I need a new outlet!

Fun Component #1 – Effort/Feedback Ratio

Think of the last time you were at a party.  Did you have fun?  Maybe you didn’t know anyone and were forced to initiate conversation with a stranger.  Maybe you knew everyone there and felt very comfortable, allowing you to let your guard down.  Now think of a specific conversation you had with someone at the party.  How did the conversation go?  Did you get the feedback you were looking for?  Now let’s break this conversation event down into an effort and feedback ratio, in other words every time you initiate a thought or topic to the conversation was your “effort” and what you receive back from your audience was the “feedback”, or your returned response for your effort.

When you offer something to a conversation, you are hoping for the maximum output response you can get for the effort you just gave.  Let’s say on a scale from one to ten, one is no response and the audience ignored you,  and ten being laughter, flirting, or shouts of praise.  What would be the most fun? Read More

dojo

Brand New Site – Finally!

By | News | No Comments

I’ve been thinking about putting a new site together for a long time now and I’ve finally said to myself, “Enough!  This puppy is going up TODAY!”  I’m really excited about this actually.  I’ve been wanting to post theories about game design and thoughts, philosophies, and interesting observations that have to do with the creation of video games as a profession.  At first, my instinct was to post all this on my company site, www.fenixfire.com, but was always reluctant to do so as that site is more about our projects and announcements, not personal inflections of putting games together and what an indy developer goes through on a daily basis.  A separate, dedicated makes more sense to me and allows for more clarity, even if it means having to manage two sites.

Anyway, I’m just getting started and I already have a bunch of new topics to post here, so it won’t take long to populate the hell out of this site.  Check back often, especially if you work in the game industry or are looking to break into the industry.  I can tell you from about 20 years of industry experience (man, that makes me sound OLD!) that there is nothing else I’d rather be doing and love the daily challenges and rewards that making games for a living provides.  This is my way of giving back to an industry that has given me so much.

One last note – the name of the site is “Design Dojo”.  I chose this name because game design is a deep and endless art, much like music composition, and therefore I consider myself a student of game design.  Learning game design through my own practice and also through the the teachings of others, both in playing the games and in researching books and blog posts, is a very zen-like path for me.  Also, like any zen activity, it is important to be able to tune the outside world out of have an inner focus, to be able to look at your game with blinders on and understand the most minute subtleties in all aspects of what makes your game great.  This is the way of the Design Dojo.

 

Thank you for reading,

Brian