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Showing posts from 2017

Why I prefer minimalist art styles in games

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I'm a big fan of minimalist art styles in games - simple lines and shapes, dashes of color, the occasional complex geometry, etc. I like the way it looks, but there's more to an art style than just the way it looks.
Games have had a long history of trying to mimic reality, especially big-budget games made by large companies for mass audiences. It can be impressive to see how far technology has come, but basing games in realistic worlds runs counter to game design. Real life has a lot of limitations, and games based on real life have to devote a lot of effort to explaining why you can do things that can't be done in real life, or they blatantly ignore such conflicts and go for the "it's just game logic" option. Whether or not you care about immersion, this is a problem that wouldn't exist if the game wasn't based in reality.
Some games are quite clever with how they dodge bullets - they set themselves in futuristic settings, or make magic real. While t…

What makes puzzle platformers challenging? What makes them good?

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I'm a big fan of puzzle platformers - games like Portal 1 and 2, The Talos Principle, The Swapper, etc. - and I've logged many dozens of hours playing such games, mostly due to community-made puzzles. In fact, I've played over 500 community maps for Portal 2, and I've learned quite a bit along the way. Someone asked me an interesting question that really got me thinking:
When do elements that are individually passable become insurmountable or too convoluted when stacked together? It's a great question, and I think the answer depends on a few factors: how many options plays have at each step, which options players are likely to actually notice, and what players typically think about each option. Every player is different, but that doesn't mean you can't estimate the qualities of a puzzle without players.
An 'option' is an action the player can perform to change the state of the puzzle, and it can either have forward progress (they get closer to the s…