The next chapter in the Reverse Design series. We spent 65,000 words and more than 300 pictures explaining the design decisions that make Super Mario World a classic. In the process, we figured out the tools that Nintendo used to structure many of their best games.
An introduction to a theoretical history of videogame design. This article works as a good intro to the upcoming Reverse Design: Super Mario World, explaining the historical context into which Super Mario World fits. It also deals with the rest of mainstream game design history, dividing it into three distinct periods. You can read more here.
The Forum's attempt to deconstruct all of the design decisions that make Chrono Trigger a classic game is now up! Chrono Trigger is a great game--a lot of people agree on that. But is Chrono Trigger still worthy of examination? We think so. More than a decade later we looked at it and saw some of the slyest, most ingenious craftsmanship in any game ever. Take a look. Also, we have an ebook version of the piece you should see. It's pretty; you can see previews here.
An attempt to reverse-engineer all of the design decisions that made Final Fantasy 6 a classic. There are eight pages in all, although page one will tell you all you need to know about the project. Page two deals with how to design (not just write) a game story. Page three is about how the designers balanced quests, story, and combat, and also about how those designers used an ingenious technique to make the game feel more artistically complete. Page four is about how the design team managed to make 14 characters, and make them all interesting. Page five is a Sociology of NPCs, in which a new form of irony, unique to videogames, emerges. Page six is a look at the design of the level-up system, and page seven a look at the design of the dungeons and how they're rather antithetical to the "set-piece" design era we live in today. Page eight is a summary, a best-of-design-lessons list, and a plea! Help us make more of these reverse designs.
This post attempts to explain why it's so fun to level up, culminating in a hypothesis of flow unique to level-up systems. The first half of the post explains what acceleration flow is, what it's like for the player experiencing it, and how players actually go about getting there. Read about the acceleration flow hypothesis.
You can skip to 2 part here..