Category Archives: Game Design


Column • Letting go of the Space Marines

What if we let go of the Space Marines and just be… ourselves?

In most games (disregarding for the moment the ones where we stack blocks on top of one another) we are compelled to inhabit the role of a character other than ourselves. We consider this fun, because very few of us are in fact real life knights, space marines or Panzer commanders. Through video games, we have an excuse to do the exact same thing we did playing outside when we were children, but today through the slightly less confronting means of a machine with a screen. 

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Empathy Games: birth of a genre?

An increasing number of developers is creating games with a focus on empathy. Is this the birth of a new genre?

A new generation of games is confronting players with real human issues. Things like depression, alcoholism, bullying, terminal illness or suicide. Often very personal stories that have touched and shaped the life of the designer. Some have labeled these games -or experiences- ‘empathy games’. Maybe for lack of a better classification, or maybe because that’s exactly what they are.

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9 games introduced during the first European Innovative Games Showcase

Earlier this year, Jonatan van Hove contacted the organization of GDC Europe to ask them if they had considered hosting an Experimental Gameplay Workshop, his favorite part of every GDC in San Francisco. They told Jonatan to organize it himself. A few weeks later, he had over 150 submissions in his mailbox, and became the host of what would be 9 short talks by creators of innovative games. Continue reading


This should be The Future of Virtual Reality

The hardware has caught up with the ideal, but the design tenets have yet to do so. Should we look at theatre for inspiration?

After decades of not-so-stellar films and special Star Trek episodes, we appear to be catching up with our science fiction aspirations. The not-too distant release of the consumer Oculus Rift, together with the Morpheus, GameFace and various other Head Mounted Displays, means that we could well be enjoying a new paradigm of gaming within the year. However, there are as of yet very few dedicated games in development, and it won’t be a simple case of adding Rift integration to existing types of games.

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Making Players Feel At Home In Your Virtual World

Like our own world, believable virtual worlds consist of millions of seemingly insignificant details. Get it right and players will call it home.

Many of us spend our free time inhabiting other worlds. We escape to outer space or fantasy realms and marvel at these constructed realities and their combat-capable natives suspiciously willing to sleep with our digital selves. We immerse ourselves in these seductive landscapes and compelling vistas and only rarely stop and appreciate the fact that these worlds were purposely built for our enjoyment by people with pencils and machines.

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Feature • Beyond the Hardware: Next-Gen Gameplay

Now that we know all the technical details of the next generation consoles, it’s time to talk about a more important issue: gameplay.

I died. Again.

It was my own fault – I chose to ignore the obvious signs. Just before I had entered the cavern, there was this red glowing message on the floor in front of me. “Beware of the trap ahead”, it read. I didn’t see one. What I did see however, was a ghost. A milky white, translucent warrior. Walking away from me before, suddenly, his body was jerked violently to the side, crumbling to the ground.

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Vlambeer: beyond the cloning debacle — Ridiculous Fishing coming soon

After having been a source of constant worry for two years, Ridiculous Fishing has become a source for joy for two-man formation Vlambeer. The tormented duo seems to have finally overcome the trauma and is looking forward to the coming release of the iOS game.

Anyone entering Vlambeer’s little office these days will encounter a happy and clearly inspired Jan Willem Nijman. Ridiculous Fishing is nearing completion and the 22-year old designer is eager to discuss the games progress.

“There’s so much new stuff in there, the game is so much more substantial. You can keep playing for hours. You unlock new areas by catching new species of fish, and some of those fish only come out at night. No, really. You’ll have to play at night to catch them.”

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Healing the world, one hit point at a time

Anna Sort is a nurse, a (pro) gamer, a former Blizzard employee and a visionary. And she believes that games are the answer to healthcare’s most itching problems.

The first time Anna Sort from Barcelona, took a controller in her hands she was a baby. “I was three, playing video games with my brother”, she recalls. Her brother grew up to become a programmer; she went on to become a certified nurse. But Anna’s passion for gaming has not waned over the years, and while pursuing a career in healthcare, she landed a job at Blizzard Entertainment, working there as a nurse with and for gamers. Her experience at Blizzard, as well as her continuous involvement with MMOs like World of Warcraft and League of Legends (as a player, guild member and participant in a pro-gamer team) has led her to realize that games may well be the solution for the crises that plague the healthcare industry. Coming to Amsterdam for the 2nd Games for Health Europe conference next week, she will unveil her plan in front of a crowd of both game industry and medical professionals.

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Halo 4: Adding humanity to the guy behind the mask

Halo 4 is the first new installment in what will become the second Halo trilogy by 343 Industries. The studio was founded in 2007 to oversee everything Halo, but beside some work on map packs and the HD overhaul on the original Combat Evolved, Halo 4 is the first completely new title 343i has worked on. The studio consists of over 250 people, including some ex Bungie and ex Ensemble Studios employees. With a new beginning the development team has gone all out on the personal story of Master Chief and specifically his relationship to Cortana. Check out this 10 minute mini documentary about the story, mocap and voice acting (after the click). The game will be out november 6th.

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