August 2011


The way competitive video games are supposed to work is simple: the person who is better at achieving the game’s stated objective is the winner. This means the person with the better strategy, or the better reflexes, or the better visual acuity will be the victor, absent any confounding factors of luck.

But with many games, there’s a largely unseen factor in determining the winner, one that’s not directly related to the game’s stated rules and objective. This game behind the game — the metagame — is where a lot of the emergent fun can be found in today’s competitive titles, and designers would do well to keep it in mind when creating competitive systems.

(full article)


The team at newly formed Magic Pixel Games is probably best known for its work on EALA’s critically acclaimed Boom Blox series for the Wii. But as “one of the few teams that have dug deep on all three [motion control] platforms,” Magic Pixel Games president Mark Tsai says developers have to take the limitations and capabilities of the specific controller into account when designing motion controlled games.

“People think about these motion control games and sort of design by hypothesis — ‘It would be great if we could do X’ — and there are just some limitations around some of the edges of what motion control can do for you,” Tsai pointed out in a recent interview with Gamasutra.

He went on to decry the kinds of motion control games that are “meant for other platforms or control devices, [but] retrofitted to a motion controller.” At Magic Pixel, Tsai said, the team prefers to “build it from the controller end and finding out what it’s best at and building a game around it.”

(full article)


The game I played most on the E3 show floor this year wasn’t featured in any press conference. It wasn’t promoted with gaudy, costumed booth babes or sequestered behind closed doors, to be played by a select few. In fact, it wasn’t highlighted on even one of the hundreds of demo stations publishers set up for the show. Yet I and hundreds of other attendees found themselves sampling the title in a way only a gathering like E3 could make possible.

The game in question was the Nintendo 3DS’ StreetPass Mii Plaza, a title that shows off both Nintendo’s penchant for unique ideas as well as its seemingly utter inability to provide a meaningful online experience.

(full article)