Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: April 2010

Risk vs Reward

This is a reprint of an article that appeared in the April 2010 article of Game Developer Magazine.  It has also appeared on Gamasutra at this link.

Bill Belichick is regarded by many football fans as a brilliant tactical coach, but in November of 2009, he made a decision that is debated to this very day.

His Patriots were up by six against their hated rivals, the Colts, when his team faced fourth and two at their own 28 yard line with two minutes left. Most coaches in this situation would automatically punt. Going for the fourth down and failing would give the Colts’ Peyton Manning, one of the top quarterbacks in the game, a short field of 30 yards to score a touchdown and win the game. Punting would make him travel at least 70. The Patriots went for it. They failed, and then lost the game.

After the game, Belichick was defensive. He argued that going for it had high odds of success, and getting the first down would have effectively won the game. On the flip side, the Patriots’ defensive line was exhausted, and Manning was cutting through it like butter—in that particular situation, the difference between 30 yards and 70 was relatively insubstantial. He argued that the upside was infinite and the consequences of failure weren’t all that different from punting. If he’d succeeded, people would have called him a genius. Continue reading

Poking My Head Up, Seeing My Shadow

Here’s an article I wrote for the Star Wars: The Old Republic site.  Long-time readers may see some repeat themes in this one (including the Gameplay Triangle), but I’m introducing it to a new audience, so there.

Massively multiplayer games are not new. The first true massively multiplayer game was a text-only virtual world called MUD, put together by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw in 1978. This little window of dizzying text descriptions was a far cry visually from the seductively lush 3D virtual worlds of today, but it was enough. Enough to get the genre started, and enough to get armchair designers across the world to imagine the possibilities, and debate philosophical matters of game design. One of these questions, still asked today, is whether or not massively multiplayer environments should strive to be games or to be worlds.

Also, yesterday a slightly more tentacle-in-cheek interview with me was posted on Gamespot.


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