Category: Game Design

I just finished Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design.

Overall I’d rate it as good with reservations (four stars).

It’s a bit too philosophical, repetitive and  self-reflective for my tastes. I was hoping for something more formal and rigorous. I found myself wanting to skim over text in search of substance. The book is really short, maybe a couple hours at best. Every other page is a crude drawing and many of the pages with text don’t use the full page. I think the intent is to reinforce the games are art premise. It reminded me of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Similar tone and feel, but I think it falls short whereas McCloud’s work delivers. Maybe Koster should have written a game to convene his message. After all one of the bigger points he’s trying to make is that games teach.

The good news is that every so often there’s a brilliant and incredibly insightful tidbit. I had a couple ah-ha moments when I suddenly saw game design in a different perspective. The book has altered my own game’s design. For $16 and a couple hours this is a bargain. So in the context of Pac-Man: you might have to eat a lot of dots to find the rare power pellets, but they are there and probably worth the effort.

Concept Art

Our art director sent over some concept art. Possibly for a splash screen or the town map.


Dungeon: Skull Entrance

Dungeon: Mausoleum Entrance

Random Dungeons

Our game has dungeons. They are small and randomly generated. As this is a Facebook game we tend to think of them as flowcharts and try to keep them simple.

To help us get a feel for how our random dungeon generator works, we create PNGs of  each. This is just a visual representation of what we store in the database minus all the fun details like doors, traps, monsters, stairs, etc…

Currently we pregenerate many thousands of them and store them in our MongoDB database. This gives us a chance to check the quality and offloads resources that would be needed to create them on the fly. For a quick QA check I can display 264 at a time on my monitor. Checking a few thousand goes surprisingly fast and I just delete the ones that I don’t like before loading them into the database. Note that each white box is a room.

Dungeon 82:

Dungeon 82

Dungeon 348:

Dungeon 348

Dungeon 11:

Dungeon 11

As you can see they are basic, but we think they’ll work fine for our game. The algorithm could use some fine tuning as I think they tend to cluster more than I like such as with Dungeon 155:

Dungeon 155

and Dungeon 234:

Dungeon 234

Anyhow they are good enough for now and we have other features that need more attention.