Monday, February 24, 2014

*Donations Wanted*

My friend and colleague Sen-Foong Lim made me aware of a facility opening this year called the Be Brave Ranch that will be dedicated to the treatment of child sexual abuse victims. As part of therapy, they plan to use boardgames to help children and their families interact. If anyone who reads this is looking to trim their collection and help an important cause, you can mail new or used games to:

924 91 St SW
PO Box 53548
Edmonton, AB T6X 0P6 

Ideally these games should be non-violent and suitable for children ages 8 to 14.

Games may also be purchased and donated from a local source.

We will now return to our regularly scheduled twaddle.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fail Faster

This week's Extra Credits knocked it out of the park. Totally obvious once you have any experience designing games, yet it's a truth nobody seems to grasp. In fact the mantra of pursuing and embracing failures is a good general rule for life I think.

Interestingly, when I saw the title "Fail Faster" I assumed they were going to talk about making the player's failures in-game quick and spectacular rather than drawn out and painful, which is another design cornerstone. (The exception being something like Cold War: CIA vs KGB where watching your opponent trying to fruitlessly dig themselves out of a progressively-more-hopeless quagmire is half the fun. (for you.))

By "spectacular" I mean that failure is generally much more frustrating when its visceral feel is muted. A great example of quick and spectacular failure can be found in Super Meat Boy. When you die, you literally explode in a shower of blood (which arguably less distasteful when you consider that the protagonist is after all made of raw meat) and then instantly respawn and try again. A few dozen attempts (that would be frustrating if not for their brevity) leave the stage completely coated in the gory allegory of your own incompetence, and it is glorious.