# Category Archives: Thoughts

• ## Design Patterns: Asymmetry (Part 2)

Last week I introduced the topic of asymmetry, and wondered out loud about all the different ways we use the term. Is there any hope of putting some order to all the chaos we uncovered? Probably not. But we’ll try anyway! It might help to identify different categories of asymmetry. I’m going to try out »more

• ## Design Patterns: What ELSE Do You Know?

Every game should tests players’ skills in one way or another, or else it doesn’t have meaningful decisions baked into it. Skills that are common to many games include being able to gauge probabilities and calculate expected values, to be able to convert in-game currencies like money, goods and victory points, and to be able »more

• ## Design Pattern: We All Do The Same Thing But It Turns Out Different

Game designers struggle mightily with symmetry. Symmetry in what players can do helps ensure fairness, but it can also produce mirror-image play that’s boring. Besides, players love to identify with their in-game avatars, and having different abilities helps players do that. So do other asymmetries like having different setups, different units, and so forth. Some »more

• ## Design Pattern: It’s A Cover-up

No, I’m not talking about politics, or make-up. I’m talking about the design pattern of using tokens of different shapes to cover up an area, which has experienced a major surge in popularity lately. Based on the mathematical concept of tessellation, or how to completely cover a surface with geometric shapes, this design pattern offers »more

• ## Design Patterns: Everything You Do Is The Reason I Don’t Trust You

Distrust is a delicious ingredient in game design! What’s so fascinating about this design pattern is that it’s about the metagame, the game above the table, rather than the game that’s on the table. In a game featuring this pattern of stoking distrust, players typically have some shared goals and some opposing goals, and play »more

• ## Design Patterns: What You Do Helps Others Too

For the inaugural post of the series I wanted to talk about a pattern that has been really important to my own designs, and that has become a hallmark of modern games. What you do helps others too is a pattern in which your play doesn’t function to block others as much as it opens »more

• ## Introducing Patterns in Game Design

I’m a fan of the Game Designers of North Carolina Podcast (GDoNC), which features conversations between game designers on design-related topics. In episode 33, Mark McGee spoke about how he designed his games around a central message, a kind of moral of the game. He mentioned a couple, like “teamwork is awesome or “you can have it now »more

• ## Pitchcraft!

(x-posted to Whose Turn Is It Anyway) Robin Lees, host of the very enjoyable Whose Turn Is It Anyway podcast, wrangled a few designers together to write about different aspects of designing, playtesting and publishing games. Here’s the piece I wrote, which I thought I’d share on this site too. For the other articles in the »more