If you have read the previous two chunks of words in this here [word collection], you might be wondering what in the hell you have gotten yourself into. I think we should talk about that, before you go any further.
As I mentioned in one of my opening paragraphs, this, right here, is not necessarily a [word collection] about game design. It is also not a how-to guide, nor a reference for your troubling design moments, nor really does it have all that much to do with the actual nuts-and-bolts of game design, directly.
Fact is, I already trust your game design instincts. You’re going to make a bunch of games, make mistakes, have successes, learn stuff, read stuff, and you’re going to do a great job. Of that, I have no doubt.
Unless you let the false assumptions you have deep in your brain do the choosing and the learning for you. Then, you’re fucked.
Against that horrifying future, the goal of this [word collection] is to directly attack what are (in this author’s view) the most commonly-held and most-destructive beliefs that plague our fair and growing community of game developers. I won’t be coy with you: I literally want to change your mind. Forever.
The process is not intended to be fun. Entertaining! Yes, I hope so. I will endeavor to make the words you read at least pleasant to scroll over. But I will absolutely not endeavor to make you comfortable. Quite to the contrary, in fact. I’ll give you homework to do (OMG so many of you just stopped reading). I will probably stoop to attempting to trigger you to anger. I will certainly go after as many sacred cows as I can. (Just the ones that are bullshit, never fear.)
But I will go one step further. With this [world collection], I will, as much as can manage, stick exclusively to these high-impact targets.
“But Jason,” I hear you say, “isn’t that just a convenient excuse for you to write less words? Slacker.”
Well, no. What it actually is is a way for the [word collection] to have an incredibly narrow audience. I’m intending to write the game design [word collection] version of Dark Souls. Niche, I think.
But, you see, that’s what I do. It’s my bag.
Listen. It’s not like there aren’t many, many ideas about game design and game development that I would very much like to write down and give to you all for your edification and amusement. That list is certainly long, and my penchant for self-indulgent proselytizing is well-established at this point. But… well, there are already so very many [word collections] on game design being written out there. I am sure that if you are interested in maybe reading this one that you are already collecting together a lovely list of reading material to feel guilty about not getting through for the next five or six years. Would another item on that list be helpful? I’m skeptical. Whatever I produce for you, I want it to be high-impact, and low-volume.
But, if I am honest with you (and, hey, why stop now), more important than the “existing market is thick with them” realities, the truth is that I am simply not wired with a personal motivating interest in writing stuff for you that will serve only to confirm your already-forming suspicions about game design, or that will give you only a slightly better way to do stuff that you are already doing pretty well at.
That kind of thing is just not my bag.
Instead, my bag is to make the best attempt I am capable of to point out to you some of the dark, musty corners of your designer’s mind where you just might be harboring dangerous demons of misunderstanding. My bag is to try to toss a light into places where brain-mynocs may be munching on your power cables, directing you towards large (and potentially expensive) design mistakes. My bag is to try to startle you with your own illusions, them that you had nary a flicker of an inkling of existence of prior to them appearing before you with a “BOO!”.
That means, sadly, that my bag is to try to show you where you might be very, very wrong.
Fact is? That approach does not go down well with everyone. See: game design Dark Souls.
I thought we should talk a little more about these things, before we go much further into the dark together. I don’t intend to pull very many punches.
You have, officially, been warned.