Game Design

Anthem's rocky launch hasn't dissuaded EA, says CEO

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 June 2019 - 3:14pm

"BioWare has to evolve and has to expand and has to test the elasticity of that brand. [...]That's what you're seeing with Anthem today.† ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Keeping up with the surprise success of Mordhau

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 June 2019 - 2:38pm

The development team behind the historical brawler Mordhau discuss the game†™s creation and its post-launch plans in an interview with PC Gamer. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Global esports director Kim Phan departs Blizzard

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 June 2019 - 1:05pm

Blizzard†™s global esports director has stepped down from the position and left Blizzard, marking the second major esports-related vacancy to hit the company in the last month. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PSA: Upload your resume to Gamasutra's job boards!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 June 2019 - 10:22am

Here's a friendly reminder that Gamasutra's job boards are the best place to find your next job in the game industry - upload your resume and land the job you want! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Publishing 103 - What Publishers Look for in Games - by David Logan Blogs - 20 June 2019 - 7:36am
Join CEO of Akupara Games, David Logan, on the final leg of his Publishing series journey. Prepared with your previous knowledge, dive down into the minds of the very people you want to be seeing your game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Games: Art or Escapism? - by Anton Slashcev Blogs - 20 June 2019 - 7:36am
Reflections on the nature of games, how they influence our lives, whether they can be something more than just entertainment, and what the "art" itself is.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Contingency's Twist on Crafting Requires Skill, Not Just Memory - by Matthew Prater Blogs - 20 June 2019 - 7:34am
In this rogue-lite, knowing the recipe is just the start to the crafting gameplay.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Concept Art; are we doing this right? - by Jitske Habekotte Blogs - 20 June 2019 - 7:24am
Four industry professionals participated in a study done into the applicability of concept art in the game industry and helped define the earliest usable step in the development process
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Imperfect GM: The Art of GMing War Part I

RPGNet - 20 June 2019 - 12:00am
Running large battles well.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

EA praises its own 'ethical, fun, and enjoyable' loot box use in FIFA

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 June 2019 - 2:37pm

Electronic Arts' Kerry Hopkins distanced FIFA's loot box-equivalent packs from gambling in a hearing with the UK Parliament and said the game's 'surprise mechanics' are often enjoyed in a healthy way. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Alpha Protocol delisted from Steam due to publishing rights expiration

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 June 2019 - 10:57am

Obsidian†™s Alpha Protocol is no longer up for sale on Steam, a sudden delisting that publisher Sega has now confirmed to Eurogamer is the result of the expiration of its publishing rights. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

How Megaladons, Krakens and Skeleton Ships Work in Sea of Thieves (Part 3 of 4) - by Tommy Thompson Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 7:43am
Meet Megan, Karen and Skevin: the three boss AI systems in Sea of Thieves.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Unexplored 2 Dev Blog: Tiles to Curves - by Joris Dormans Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 7:36am
For Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy we translate generated tile data into natural looking level geometry. Here's how we do it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Prevent broken games with computer play testing - Part 1 - by Sascha de Waal Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 7:33am
This is the introduction about what computer playtesting is, why you would use it and why not.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Magic Arena is not Magic the Gathering - by Diego Ricchiuti Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 7:32am
Magic Arena the last product of the Magic the Gathering franchise, it isn't really MTG, it is a new game, with a different gameplay and a different audience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless #39: E3 2019 Recap - by Kenneth Liu Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 7:28am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share broadly within Riot. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Handouts, Props, and Mood Setting

Gnome Stew - 19 June 2019 - 5:00am

Most of the time, the tactile sensations players get during the game are limited to their pencil, character sheet, dice, and mini on the board. As GMs, we can take it to the next level by leveraging handouts, props, and auditory mood setting.


Handouts are a great, and usually straightforward, method of drawing the players deeper into the game. Don’t tell the players that they found a map of the old ruins that sit atop the hill several miles outside the village. Actually hand them a map. Don’t draw the handout on grid paper, either. Slap it down using charcoal sticks (or black Sharpie) on white or yellow-aged paper. A great touch is to splash some water droplets onto the paper to smear/smudge the drawing, but without making it incomprehensible (unless that’s the effect you’re going for).

Other handouts are printouts of NPC appearances. If you leverage technology (like a tablet) in the same way I do, you can save the printer ink and hold up the tablet with the image prominently displayed on the screen. The saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this is true for visual cues. A “picture” they can touch and interact with (such as a map, contract, letter, or other physical product) is worth many more words than a mere thousand.


This leads into props. Instead of saying, “You find tufts of fur on the pathway,” you can give your dog or cat a good brushing and throw some fur bits into a baggie. Then remove the fur from the bag and toss it in the middle of the table. It’s evocative, surprising, and really lends a deeper immersion into the game than the words. Just be careful of possible allergic reactions from your players if they can’t handle animal remnants, especially the fur.

Another thing I’ve done many moons ago was to bring in a bag of dried leaves from the yard. Instead of telling the party that they hear footsteps on the dried leaves, I’ll jam my hand down into the gallon freezer bag and start crunching the leaves. Then I’ll tell the players that they hear that sound from behind them. It really draws them in a considerable amount.

A quick trip around a hobby supply store can provide many more ideas about props that can be used in the midst of a game.

Sound Effects

I’ve already mentioned the dried leaves. I’ve also grabbed some stage swords off my wall near the gaming table and clashed them together to demonstrate what the players hear in the distance. One of my players told me that it was the biggest adrenaline rush he’s ever had at the gaming table. The steel-on-steel sounds immersed into the scene, and he knew that the person they needed to save was being attacked just ahead.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) drag a million props with you to the game table just for making sounds with, there are digital options. I personally use an application called “RPG Sounds: Fantasy” by SuperFly Games on my iPad. It’s also available for iPhone and Android devices. The key features I like within this app are that there are four tracks (Atmosphere, Sound Effects, Music, and Custom) where you can play four different sounds at once and give each of them a different volume level. Maybe the atmosphere (like a cheering crowd) is right up in the PCs’ faces, but the music is very distant while the sound effects are midway. The app comes with gobs of different sound effects as well. It’s quite cool.

Mood Music

Back in the day when I ran the various World of Darkness games, I’d always start off the session with a set of theme music. It was rarely longer than two minutes long, but it always tied to key events that were coming up soon. This helped put the players in the mood.

These days, I’m running and playing more fantasy-based games, so I fall back to various soundtracks that emote that feeling. I try to find ones without lyrics to avoid that mental distraction. Good ones on my list include Conan the Barbarian, and the whole slew of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit soundtracks. Just snagging the LotR/Hobbit soundtracks will keep your background music filled for many game sessions.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Prevent broken games with computer play testing - part2 - by Sascha de Waal Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 1:03am
In this tutorial we will take a deep technical look at the testing framework. We will look at the idea behind it, and we will have a detailed look at all elements of the testing framework. You could use this as a reference for when you are going to use th
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The effects of a denoiser on a rendering project that uses only raytracing - by Brent Op de beeck Blogs - 19 June 2019 - 1:02am
RTX and raytracing are seeing a lot more interest from the gaming community. During my master studies, I wanted to explore raytracing for myself. This blog post summarizes my findings and grants you access to the full thesis and source code.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Minecraft: Story Mode relisted on Xbox 360, but for $100 to deter new buyers

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 June 2019 - 2:00pm

Minecraft: Story Mode has been relisted on the Xbox 360, but with a noticeable price hike that†™s intended to deter new purchasers from buying the game ahead of its official delisting date. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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