Tag Archives: game design

I’m a Game Designer

10 Jul

(On an elevator ride)

Lady: How’s patent law?

Me: Hmm?

Lady: Patent law. You work in patent law, right?

Me: No, actually I don’t.

Lady: Oh – it’s just that you look stressed out. Patent law people always do! No. You know, I bet you’re an IT guy then, huh?

Me: Nope, but you’re getting warmer.

(We reach her floor. She steps out.)

Lady: Ah, computers it is. I knew it.

Me: I’m a game designer.

(The elevator closes.)


It took a couple of weeks, but I soon realized after graduation that I can no longer hide behind the prospective title of “Student”. Yesterday morning I ran into the above scenario. It was probably the first time, in a position where I’m being paid to work on a video game, that I’ve said out loud ,”I’m a game designer.”

I don’t want to bring a ton of unnecessary attention to such a simple moment, but one of the most unexpected transitions from education to profession was just that: losing the identity of a student for the first time. It’s a feeling Jim first mentioned to me weeks ago, but this was the first time I had to do anything about it.

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Maps – Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice

28 Jun

Taking on new projects often comes with picking up new books. Research becomes a key ingredient to approaching game design for the long-term, and when you’re just starting to get a grasp of how to develop games its value is reassuring.

Considering we’re often on the lookout for good reads about design, I chose to go ahead and introduce a new category, Maps, which is essentially a less formal annotated group-bibliography. Maps list the reading material we come across and why they’re helpful to a particular train of game-making thought, to better find our way around the medium. -Andrew


Rudolf Kremers, co-creator of the ambient real-time strategy game Eufloria, had his book Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice released in November last year. Considering the name The Escape Route itself is a reference to level design in the Source engine, picking this book as the first “Map” felt appropriate, even if I haven’t fully read it myself. While we’ve spent a lot of time with a number of world editors and level designs, each game needs a different genre of levels, and Kremers’ overview appears to be incredibly thorough from  the descriptions, reviews, and excerpts I’ve read.

In the meantime Gamasutra has an excerpt from the book that’s worth sampling if you’re interested in the full read.

Here’s the description that Amazon provides:

Level design is the creation of levels, locales, stages, or missions in a video game. Level design is as much an art as it is a science; it requires artistic skills and know-how as well as an extensive technical knowledge and is an extremely important part of computer game design. Good or bad level design can make or break any game, so it is surprising how little reference material exists for level designers. Beginning level designers have a limited understanding of the tools and techniques they can use to achieve their goals, or even define them.
This book is the first to use a conceptual and theoretical foundation to build such a set of practical tools and techniques. It is tied to no particular technology or genre, so it will be a useful reference for many years to come. Kremers covers many concepts universal to level design, such as interactivity, world building, immersion, sensory perception, pace, and more, and he shows how to apply these concepts in practical ways, with many examples from real games.

Size: 408 pages | 23.4 x 18.8 x 2.5 cm
Best Deal: Barnes & Nobles ($47.20, 20% off)
“Look Inside!” Preview: Amazon

In Limbo

27 May

It’s that time again.

I’m stuck in limbo between two game design projects: one that’s just closed a chapter of itself, and another that’s only beginning to sort out its ingredients. As I’m slipping into yet another undetermined space between significant points in my life, mixed feelings emerge. Feelings of reprieve — from escaping another crunch period, while retaining some of my sanity. Feelings of liberation — to play with ideas I haven’t had the time to think about. Feelings of fear — that I don’t know when the next good idea will make an appearance, and when or how it might manifest.

There’s a lot of things to be concerned with even in the lull’s of productivity. After talking with a number of people, I found that not only do few people talk about this creative hibernation between projects, but also from personal research have I rarely come across much in the field of game design journalism.

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The Modcast – Episode 5: ChromaWaves, Education

12 Mar

How two college professors from Cleveland, Ohio have gone about making Game Design educational for students, bringing young artists and programmers together for their first time each year. In part 2 of this mini-series, we explore a perspective of student game development that seldom is.

– Direct Download –
– iTunes Link –

(Click to stream, right-click to save)
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The Modcast – Episode 5: ChromaWaves, Choices

26 Feb


How some college students went about making difficult yet necessary choices to develop an ambient color-mixing game for the iPhone and iPod Touch: ChromaWaves. In part 1 of this mini-series, we exhaust the decision making process to getting there.

– Direct Download –
– iTunes Link –

(Click to stream, right-click to save)

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The Modcast – Episode 3: Things Change

2 Nov

modcast_e3

The harvest season rolls in with episode three as a hearty discussion on dramatic change in games through level design and environments. We celebrate what marks 2 years of Team Fortress 2 while TF2 map author Sean “Heyo” Cutino talks with us about his seasonal community map, all before we delve into the depths of iterative design and various developer-tools.

– Direct Download –
– iTunes Link
(Click to stream, right-click to save)

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