Game design with Noah Falstein, part 4: Brainstorming and extra tips


  • The best way to learn is by playing many games and learning from other designers
  • Game designers must also learn to observe themselves on many levels as they play
  • Some levels in playing/designing games: Mechanics, strategies, cheat/exploit, game design rules… but there are other ways to see it

Basic brainstorming:

  • Be aware of, but not shackled by constrains
  • Listen to what others say
  • Challenge assumptions – your own and others
  • Vary discussion of theme/story and gameplay mechanics (Important!)
  • Try to cross-fertilize ideas even (specially) when it seems absurd
  • You are finding new neural pathways
  • Mixing wildly different ideas or themes can create useful tension
  • Example: Art deco + bio-tech + Ayn Rand + 1960 + underwater = Bioshock
  • Ideas, not egos: Critique concepts, not people
  • Review constraints and question them too
  • Good, not escential, to have a reason why
  • Nothing is to odd or silly – low hit ratio
  • It’s normal to wander – some!
  • Best size around 5 +- 2
  • Common ground, divergent opinions
  • Avoid including managment directly (fear of firing, danger of deferring to boss)
  • Consider flied trips, resources, toys
  • Time pressure (optional)
  • No judgments (optional, useful for dealing with people that has never done brainstorming)
  • More than art as you gain experience

Great game elements (advanced techniques):

  • Classic convexity structure (Start wth one node, then many, then one again)
  • Appropiate inteface
  • Negative feedback (Handicap)
  • Self-tunning features
  • Emergent complexity (Overlap various game mechanics)
  • Great balance (tradeoffs again!)

Negative feedback examples:

  • Exponential costs (experience, money, etc)
  • Easier to aim after each failure or death
  • Selling items give you less money that what you originally paid for it
  • Stronger units are more restictive (specialized, only good against another specific unit, etc)