Writings on Game Design

I'm been writing about game development and design just about as long as I've been doing it. I've been speaking at conferences fairly consistently for the last ten years. Below you'll find a collection most of my articles and lectures. Feedback and comments are always appreciated at paranoid@paranoidproductions.com.
 

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Solo/Partner Lectures and Presentations

Dynamic Stories for Dynamic Games (2016)

At the GDC Narrative Summit 2016, I did the solo talk Dynamic Stories for Dynamic Games This explores six key techniques that can be used in your game to make the narrative more dynamic and help player investment in the game.

Narrative Innovation Showcase - The Church in the Darkness and "What If?" (2016)

At the GDC Narrative Innovation Showcase in 2016, I did a 10 minute talk about my game The Church in the Darkness titled "What If?" In it I go into the narrative inspirations for the game and the aspirations I have for what the game can be (the project is due to be completed in 2017).

Death to the Three-Act Structure! (2014)

At the GDC Narrative Summit 2014, Tom Abernathy (formerly of Microsoft, now at Riot Games) and I did a talk entitled Death to the Three-Act Structure! This explores games that use three act structure, games that use alternate traditional structures, and games that use far less conventional structures (if they are structured at all). In the end we conclude that structure is not what game writers should be most worried about - in games character and setting/context are much more important. It's another 30-minute session, and no video clips in this one, so you're getting a pretty complete idea of the talk from the slides.

Seven (Or So) Techniques for Writing a Moral Game (2013)

At the GDC Narrative Summit 2013, I did a follow up to my 2011 Seven Ways a Video Game Can Be Moral. It was a quick one at only 30 minutes, but it was the very first talk of the whole conference so that was fun. This talk only has one video clip toward the end, so you're getting a rpetty complete version of it in the slides with the notes at the bottom.

Seven Ways a Video Game Can Be Moral (2011)

At GDC 2011 I did a semi-sequel to my 2010 Five Ways a Video Game Can Make You Cry talk. The new one is called Seven Ways a Video Game Can Be Moral and is a bit more serious, dealing with the importance of developers putting meaningful, thought-provoking and moral content into their games. No video clips are included with the PowerPoint, but most of what I said (and more in many cases) can be found in the notes for the slides.

I redid the talk in a bunch of places, including Mesa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. They were kind enough to tape me, so you can watch me do the talk here: http://mesacc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=251828&sid=2270964.

Five Ways a Video Game Can Make You Cry (2010)

In 2010 I gave a 25 minute talk at the Game Developer's Conference titled Five Ways a Video Game Can Make You Cry. It is tongue-in-cheek at first, but gets serious, and deals with the industry's obsession with making a game that will make you cry. The slides have notes at the bottom, and links to YouTube of rough equivalents of the videos I showed.

Environmental Narrative: Your World is Your Story (2010)

In 2010 I also gave a 50-or-so minute talk titled "Environmental Narrative: Your World is Your Story", which is more practical for your project. I have included some decent notes in the notes section of the PowerPoint, hopefully those are useful. Sadly the videos are not included for this talk, but it's still fairly informative.

Cinematic Game Design Series (2006 - 2012)

In 2006 I gave a presentation at the Game Developer's Conference titled Cinematic Game Design. The talk benefited greatly from the movie and gameplay clips we showed (which can't be included here) and from my co-presentor, Marty Stoltz. Nevertheless, I hope these powerpoint slides will still be interesting.

An updated version of this presentation was given by Marty and myself at the Montreal International Game Summit. Included a few new examples, omitted a few others (still no video in this version).

At the Game Developer's Conference in 2007 Marty Stoltz and I presented a sequel to our popular Cinematic Game Design talk from 2006 (for the original, see below). This entirely new talk focused on cinematic storytelling techniques and how they can be applied to game. We did an encore presentation at the fmx Conference in Stuttgart and I did a solo version at GDC China in Shanghai. Like the previous talk, this featured a lot of movie and game clips which can't be posted here, but the slides are below.

At the Game Developer's Conference in 2009 Marty Stoltz and I presented the third installment in the "Cinematic Game Design" talk series. This new talk focused on action scenes in movies, and how to apply those techniques to make more dramatic action sequences in games. As with the previous talk, this featured a lot of movie and game clips which can't be posted here, but the slides are below.

At GDC 2012 Marty Stoltz and I did the fourth installment in the Cinematic Game Design series, this one on manipulating audience/player relationship to characters. No video clips are included with the PowerPoint, but most of what we said can be found in the notes for the slides.

Other Talks

I was one of the keynotes at the Philadelphia GameX Industry Summit in 2009 with a talk about the origins of game ideas, urging developers to use more original sources. I presented the same talk to students at the MIT Gambit Game Lab the following week. People seem to have dug it. It's a little hard to follow without the video clips and my audio, but you'll get some of the gist.

I gave a presentation at the inaugural ACM SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium in 2006 titled "What is a Cinematic Game?" It bears some resemblance to the "Cinematic Game Design" presentation below, but less than you might think. It's a little hard to understand without my lecturing, but this should give you some sense of what it was like.



Group Talks

Rules of the Game - Five More Techniques from Highly Inventive Designers (2016)

At GDC 2016, I hosted a second "Rules of the Game" session with five new super-experienced game designers (Liz England, George Fan, Emily Short, Lee Perry, Michael de Plater) talking about their personal game design rules that they've used in their projects.

Rules of the Game - Five Tricks of Highly Effective Designers (2015)

At GDC 2015, I hosted a "Rules of the Game" session with five super-experienced game designers (Nels Anderson, Chris Avellone, Kim McAuliffe, Laralyn McWilliams,Dan Teasdale) talking about one of their personal game design rules that they've used in their projects. Very diverse "rules" resulted, and it's worth a read.

The Brain Dump

The Brain Dump is a session I've run at the Montreal International Game Summit and some other conferences where I get together a group of interesting game developer speakers who each do super-fast, super-passionate 5-minute talks about subjects of their choosing. Unpredictable awesomeness happens each time. Below are some of those slides:

Stories Best Played (2008)

At the Game Developer's Conference in 2008 I led a panel entitled Stories Best Played. On the panel, four designer/writers (Steve Meretzky, Marc Laidlaw, Ken Rolson and myself) each picked our two favorite storytelling games and discussed them with the group. The link below will lead you to more information about the panel including a link to the PowerPoint slides.



Articles

Game Developer & Gamasutra

I have written a few pieces for Game Developer magazine and its sister web site Gamasutra, with a few more pieces in the works.


SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics

I also wrote a colum for SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics, where I rambled on about design issues, but with a bit more of a focus on the graphical end of things.  The column is quite descriptively called Gaming & Graphics, though the first of these was actually written as a special item for their gaming-oriented issue.

I have also been fortunate to work with talented guest columnists who write the column from time to time.  Though I only functioned in an editorial capacity on these columns, they are included here since they are definitely worth reading.


Inside Mac Games

Paranoid Ramblings also happens to be the name of the column I wrote for Inside Mac Games magazine in 1997 and 1998. They've been gracious enough to allow me to reprint my writings here so they can continue to be read by interested parties.

Game Design:  Theory & Practice

The most rambling about game design I have ever done is contained in my book, Game Design: Theory & Practice, available from Wordware Publishing.  This book has proven quite popular among both aspiring and established game developers, and has served as the text for numerous college courses in game design. Indeed the book was popular enough to warrant a second edition, which has just been released. Click here to read all about it.
 

The Suffering - Ties That Bind

Game sequels are strange beasts, particularly when you don't have a lot of time to completely reinvent your game. The Suffering: Ties That Bind was on a pretty tight schedule, but had some very specific goals that we mostly met. Below are some of the articles I wrote and interviews I did related to that particular strange beast.

The Suffering

For The Suffering I wrote/talked about the game's development quite a bit in various places. Here are some of the more interesting bits, for those who want to learn what the heck we were thinking.

I also wrote some fiction pieces that were used for various promotional purposes. These were carefully crafted to still fit in with The Suffering's game-world fiction, providing some interesting back story not available in the game itself. Fans (established or potential) should enjoy checking them out.


Feedback to any of these articles is encouraged at paranoid@paranoidproductions.com.
 
 

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