Author Archives: Tyler Smith

Iterative Design

Well, hello! I’m still here. (I need to make myself remember this blog is for posting stuff in again.)

The folks over at Bethesda Softworks put up a post about iterative design. While the focus is on level design in particular, it is an awesome breakdown on the iterative process in general. I think that if I had to adhere to a design philosophy for game development, it would be the iterative process. You want your game to be fun and you want to drop ideas that aren’t and emphasize ideas that are. You can only do that if you get feedback early in development so you don’t rip up too much work. (Or release a boring game.)

Read it. It’s long, but do it! It’s good stuff.

Considering Story-Driven Games

What makes a good game, again?

So, to recap the last post, I’ve outlined what I think makes a good game. Choice does. Give people choices. Give them interaction. That will make your game good. If your game has neither, then why is it a game? Out of the two basic types of games, sandbox and story-driven, I think sandbox is the purest form of game. But a game without a story has no direction. The game will work as long as people can come up with their own direction. Minecraft comes to mind. It has no story, but players create their own goals. Survive the first night. Find diamonds. Find the dungeon. Defeat the Ender Dragon. Maybe they’ll install a mod like Tekkit to give them specialized goals. Build a quarry. Build a nuclear reactor. Build a Red Matter generator. It all comes down to giving people a choice of what they want to do, but there has to be something for them to do. Continue reading

Not All Games Are Created Equal

What makes a good game?

This is the ultimate question in game development. Everyone thinks they have the answer to this, otherwise they wouldn’t be making the games they make. There are objective things to look for like if the controls even work or if the game crashes or if you can adjust graphics quality on a PC or any number of functional, code-level stuff that makes a game “good.” What I’m after are the subjective things. Ya’know, the ones everyone gets upset about when you question them because people can’t come up with a reason other than “it’s art.” (Is my cynicism showing? Sorry.) Continue reading

A New Beginning


I didn’t expect to be resurrecting my blog so soon. I had removed my old one since I didn’t think I needed it, and I wanted to clean up 6+ year old content while also symbolically marking some changes in my life. But here it is, not even a week later, and I’m here with a brand new site. Why?

I’m increasingly interested in games. Not playing them. Making them. I want to build games, but I have no real developed skill in building them in spite of being a programmer. I’m interested in what makes games fun, what makes characters good, what makes stories make sense, and in how to get everything to work in code.

I know some of those things, but not all. I’m a writer and gamer, so I think I know what makes a good game. I’ve been a programmer for a very long time, but I do not know how to code a good game. I have a degree in economics, so I think I know what it takes to start a business, but I’ve never done it before.

Ultimately, I want to start my own independent game development company. I will be using this new blog to document my (perhaps ill-fated) journey. I will also be writing articles where I attempt to explain my design philosophies in a place that isn’t Facebook or Twitter.

I’m a full-time developer already, so I can only imagine how long any of this will take, but I’m going to try. I don’t have the skills to be hired by a game studio right now, but there’s literally absolutely nothing stopping me from doing any of this myself. It’s time to learn, work hard, and be awesome.