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Showing posts from February, 2016

Design Bites: Mirror's Edge

The "Design Bites" series is about learning or appreciating just one design element of one game. It's about applying an analytical eye, even if it doesn't touch on everything.

What's Mirror's Edge? Mirror's Edge is a Action Adventure First-Person Platformer developed and released by DICE in Late 2008. The player free-runs across city heights, jumping between rooftops and scaling walls. Occasionally you fight enemies with timing-based attacks but mostly it's about running away from things.

What's Awesome? Games often instruct the player directly, spoken or written in UI, but the majority of instructions are actually given indirectly - A muzzle flash means "find cover", even without gruff military voiceover. Good level design is not just about what's challenging or fun, it's also about communication - it's a direct channel between the designer and the player.

Mirror's Edge showcases some awesome ways of getting your players…

Design Bites: FTL: Faster Than Light

The "Design Bites" series is about learning or appreciating just one design element of one game. It's about applying an analytical eye, even if it doesn't touch on everything.

What's FTL: Faster Than Light? FTL: Faster Than Light is a roguelike top-down space-sim developed and released by Subset Games in Late 2012. The player manages a small spaceship and crew, arranging them on the ship and adjusting power levels for various systems like shields, weapons and engines. You jump from area to area, where you may encounter other ships or answer distress calls. All the while, the rebel fleet advances on your position, making areas behind you dangerous.

What's Awesome? Permadeath, an important element of the roguelike formula. When used correctly it creates a bond between the player and their character. It immerses us by making our decisions carry more weight and encourages us to care for the characters we're controlling more deeply - emotionally. FTL is great …

Design Bites: Cubetractor

The "Design Bites" series is about learning or appreciating just one design element of one game. It's about applying an analytical eye, even if it doesn't touch on everything.

What's Cubetractor? Cubetractor is a tower-building action puzzle game with bullet-hell elements developed and released by Ludochip in mid 2013. The player character pulls cubes along the ground, combining them into structures like turrets, barricades and many others. The goal is to destroy all enemies, either with turrets or by crushing them.

What's Awesome? Games with levels will often feature a grade system, where the player gets a star rating or grade letter at the end of each level based on their performance. This feature is often used to motivate the player to replay levels to beat their old performances. Most of the time this amounts to encouraging players to take on restrictions to increase multipliers, or find point-maximising strategies. Cubetractor makes great use of this fea…

Design Bites: Ikaruga

The "Design Bites" series is about learning or appreciating just one design element of one game. It's about applying an analytical eye, even if it doesn't touch on everything.


What's Ikaruga? Ikaruga is a Japanese arcade bullet hell shmup developed and released by Treasure in Late 2001. It features a color-swapping mechanic where the player can switch between blue and red, making them impervious to bullets of the same color.

What's Awesome? When we play games, we often try to "outsmart" them. We look for broken spell combinations, overpowered guns, experience farming tactics and other things to give ourselves the edge.
In Ikaruga, the story is the same: "By staying in blue form forever I can ignore half of the danger on screen! All I need to do is kill off all red enemies."
About 2 minutes later you're presented with a pair of alternate colored enemies that slowly but surely push you to switch, as you are placed in a position where sim…