Game Design

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl: Repackaged And Resold or Satisfying Update To The Originals?

The Pokémon franchise finds itself in an interesting place (at least as far as this writer is concerned). As someone who has played a couple of the Gameboy and Nintendo DS iterations of the games, there was a certain level of joy in hearing that Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl were finally getting their remake. It’s a trend the Pokémon games have been following since they came out with Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen, and have done accordingly with a couple of other titles in their roster. The newest of these remakes will be Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you wish to buy this game, feel free to peruse the following discussion. Hopefully, it does well to inform your decision one way or the other.

The “Repackaged and Resold” Dilemma

Despite feeling that tinge of joy, in the back of my mind, a singular question resounded. “Will I get it?” Truthfully, it was a tough question to confront, mostly because of how loaded the decision is. To put things in perspective, the first Pokémon game I ever played was Pokémon Platinum, it was a hybrid successor of sorts to the games based in the Sinnoh region, Diamond and Pearl. If there is to be any choice between the two new games, Pokémon Shining Pearl has the most allure as Palkia is, personally, the preferred legendary to its counterpart Dialga. 

As the decision-making process continued, something somewhat obvious came to mind. “I’ve played this game already.” Not just Platinum either, the actual game Pokémon Pearl was once a game I’d owned. It was at that point that the decision-making process came to a halt as a particular revelation reared its ugly head. There was a looming possibility that Pokémon Shining Pearl was going to be another instance of the whole “repackaging and reselling” scheme, which is essentially putting out the same game but with one, two, or a few changes that are supposed to separate it from the original. It’s not a practice that many gamers are fond of since it feels like a cheap and lazy way to make a buck. 

With Pokémon, it’s somewhat difficult to discern though. For one, both Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl are going to be released on the Switch. What does that tell us? Well for one, releasing it on the Switch means they’re trying to reach the younger generation of their demographic as the platform is relatively new. One of two motivations at work here is that they’re trying to introduce the Sinnoh region to the new generation of players, which isn’t a bad thing really. Diamond and Pearl were games originally released on the Nintendo DS, which at this point, has become something of a relic of a time long past. On the other hand, the second motivation at work here is that these games are remakes of previously existing games. The move is without a doubt meant to invoke a sense of nostalgia to get those that played the originals to buy it. For those among the older generation that haven’t already done so, it also becomes a great excuse to finally get the Switch if you’ve been holding off. To give credit where credit is due, it’s an ingenious strategy, which is why it is hard to discern at a glance whether or not this is truly a case of repackaging and reselling. 


But Where Is The Line Between A True Remake and A Repackaged and Resold Product? 

As fuel for thought, an article by Digital Spy also provides some further insights into this matter. According to the article, “the original story [is] faithfully reproduced” but in addition to that, these new games see “vast improvements graphically and feature-wise, with new additions that include expanded minigames, Pokémon Hideaways, and a new character customization option.” 

This is the part where the decision-making process proves most difficult. The updated graphics were a given, the Pokémon games have come a long way since their Gameboy/Nintendo DS days. One of the bigger, and arguably more interesting features is the addition of the Grand Underground. The Grand Underground, which replaces the Underground from Diamond and Pearl, will not only retain all of its predecessor’s features but expand on them. Utilizing the Pokémon Hideaways mechanic from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, it seems players will be able to customize spaces within the Grand Underground in order to, essentially, summon rare Pokémon.

To answer the question previously posited, it really depends on buyer perception. The line between a true remake and a repackage/resell lies in whether or not you believe these new additions are enough to call these new games remakes. On a personal level, the concept of the Grand Underground sounds interesting as it appears to add a new dimension to the Underground of the previous games. But this sentiment may not necessarily be held universally. To someone else, the new addition may not be enough to warrant spending another $50 or so on a game you feel you’ve already played. 

Final Thoughts

As a fan of the franchise myself, I’ll admit I’m still on the fence as to whether or not Pokémon Shining Pearl will be this year’s self-addressed Christmas present. Nintendo walks a fine line here, skirting the line between remake and repackage/resell. To be fair to Nintendo however, these aren’t the only Pokémon games they’re putting out and have yet to put out. Enough so that perhaps it is worth giving these new titles the benefit of the doubt. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl will be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 19th, 2021.

Netflix’s Big Splash In Gaming

In the world of both streaming and gaming, the streaming wars look like they’re getting taken to the next level.  This month, Netflix launched a few gaming titles for Android users on their mobile app. As of November 10, those very same games were released for iOS. Now you, our esteemed readers, might be thinking, ‘A movie app having gaming content? That’s pretty odd.’ However odd it might seem, this move by the streaming service is interesting, to say the least. Join us as we begin unraveling the why and the implications of the why. 

What Games Will Netflix Have?

Per an article by Gadgets 360, there are currently five games on Netflix’s roster. These include Stranger Things 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Shooting Hoops, Teeter Up, and Card Blast. The two Stranger Things games are by a gaming studio by the name of BonusXP, Card Blast by Amuzo & Rogue Games, and Shooting Hoops as well as Teeter Up is by Frosty Pop. For more on what Netflix’s new mobile gaming venture entails, we refer you to explore the aforementioned article for further details.

Stranger Things 1984 on Netflix Games

Speculating the Future of Streaming

A step like this has been in Netflix’s sights for some time now, having come a long way since its beginnings. Netflix first started out as a rental service that rivaled the likes of Blockbuster (kudos to you if you can remember who they were). Slowly, Netflix came into its own niche as a streaming service that let you watch movies without the hassle of going to the old Netflix vending machine to physically rent them, having a hand in eventually rendering both discs and video tapes nearly obsolete.

The point here is that Netflix knows its way around the block as a proven innovator. Given time, they were able to crack the formula for their current business model and for a hot minute, they ran relatively unopposed until companies like Disney and other programming networks decided to jump in the game. 

Like last time, the streaming service is once again trying to find ways to innovate their brand, and if the past has taught us anything, there is a snowball’s chance that the people over at Netflix could work their magic once again. But it all comes down to time and how decent the content is. Another important factor in this brave new world is who decides to work with Netflix of course. If they manage to collaborate with the right gaming studios, we could be looking at a world where Netflix becomes the next gaming platform (which is very odd to think about, truthfully). 

As of right now, you can download the Netflix app on your Xbox or PlayStation console and watch movies and shows from there. That could very easily change if this gambit of theirs proves successful. As a streaming platform themselves, they could branch out even further and become direct competitors with the likes of Steam, which if you don’t know already, is a platform that allows you to stream games from the comfort of your computer or PC. If you’re one that dares to dream, who’s to say they won’t go the extra mile and come out with a console of their own? The situation and all the trajectories it entails are pretty fascinating to ponder. 

Final Thoughts

It’ll be intriguing to see how this plays out, but as of right now, all you need to play Netflix’s mobile games is a subscription to their service. It isn’t impossible to imagine there’ll be some kind of bump in their pricing, but to conceive of a service that provides an impressive catalogue of movies, shows, AND games is scarily appealing. In some respects, Netflix’s latest venture could very well be revolutionary if handled tactfully, changing the landscape of both the gaming world and that of streaming overall.

Far Cry 6: Why Character Enrichment Is Worth It 

Far Cry is one of those games where you don’t need to necessarily focus on the story in order to enjoy it. In a sense it’s like Grand Theft Auto, you can find the perfect weapon, steal a car, and go on your merry way causing mischief and mayhem. Where some might see that as a flaw, the Far Cry games have always proven fun and engaging. As a way of spicing things up,   appears to be adopting a new tactic to make the game more compelling. In addition to some new mechanics and acting talent Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame, the game will be giving its new lead, Dani Rojas, an in-depth backstory.

Why Is This A Big Deal And Why Now?

Right now, you might be wondering why this decision is so important for the Far Cry series. As an article from Game Rant points out, the series’ mains are for the most part presented as blank slates, “having very little in the way of backstory or character depth.” Take Jason Brody from Far Cry 3 for example. In that game, his entire reason for being on Rook Island is because his vacation took a wrong turn. It isn’t the worst backstory, but it certainly isn’t the best either. For the main character of the game, one would expect something deeper in the way of a story. On the other hand, Far Cry 3 wasn’t terrible either. For one, the game had a breakout star in the villain, Vaas, who by and large was more intriguing than Brody as you got to know why he is the way he is. There’s a reason why this perceived disparity exists, and it’s thought that for all the work that is put into the gameplay of a Far Cry game, “[not] a lot of room is left for the narrative and the characters to shine” (Game Rant, 2021). 

That’s why the new main character, Dani Rojas, is revolutionary in more ways than one. One of the things that makes this character special is that players can choose whether or not Dani will be male or female. Already, players are given more agency than prior games (with the exception of Far Cry 5 which also gave players this option), serving to strengthen the storytelling of the new game. On top of that, Dani Rojas backstory isn’t nearly as superficial as being a tourist who took a wrong turn. The main character of Far Cry 6 will be a native resident of the island nation Yara, which is where the story takes place. It’s a simple detail, but it changes a lot as the themes of revolt and revolution supplant the series’ traditional one of survival which gives the story a new, compelling element. 

The best part about having a compelling main protagonist, is that you now have someone for the main antagonist to bounce off of. Giancarlo Esposito’s Anton Castillo already had the internet in an uproar when Far Cry 6 was first announced. It would have been criminal to have such great talent pitted against yet another blank slate protagonist the series is infamous for. With Dani being as fleshed out as she appears to be, the story is sure to have more soul and richness to it. Each represents the polar end of a binary, Castillo, who represents the “pros” authoritarianism brings on a structural level, and on the other end Dani, who will (likely) come to embody the “cons” of a revolutionary upheaval. The binary is being framed here like this because, as far as the trailer is concerned, both sides make it clear they’re willing to do anything to achieve what each perceives as “paradise”. Meaning, according to both, the ends will justify the means, which could lead to darker roads regardless of intention. Already, you have the makings of an interesting story, but it only works because both the antagonist and the protagonist can both effectively and meaningfully push back against one another. A storyteller wouldn’t be able to achieve this if one of the characters, protagonist or antagonist, were blank slates.

The Moral Of The Story?

Deeper main characters beget deeper, better stories, plain and simple. When crafting the story you want to tell, all aspects of the characters, especially the main character, should be considered. How your main protagonist relates to the other characters they meet and interact with is part of what will make your story a page turner so to speak. It’s why details are key when it comes to character depth. The only way Jason Brody of Far Cry 3 could relate to Vaas meaningfully was that he murdered his brother. It was instrumental in that it was Brody’s driving force, but beyond that, it was an arguably superficial relationship that they had. In effect, Vaas did all the “legwork” while Brody simply reacted to whatever he did, bringing nothing else to the table in terms of depth. Thus, since Brody’s backstory wasn’t fleshed out enough to make him interesting, the story ultimately suffered for it.

On the other side of the aisle, one can make the case that by making the main character a blank slate, it can be more immersive for the viewer/player/reader experience. It is true in some cases too when planned and executed well. For instance, Skyrim is an open world game like Far Cry, but it is a role playing game (RPG) at its core. The blank slate main works better because the character is well and truly an open canvas. They have no solid backstory save for whatever the player decides or even imagines. The reason why it doesn’t quite work for Far Cry is because the groundwork for the character is already set, so the only agency players really have is the choices they make. Essentially, their main character exhibits traits reminiscent of RPG games, meanwhile the game doesn’t inherently revolve around the RPG experience. It creates an oddly disparate experience that doesn’t do the game justice. That’s not to say these games aren’t enjoyable, but this is why their storytelling can feel flat at times. Luckily for fans of Far Cry, this is all going to be turned around with this newest installment in the series. Far Cry 6 will be available on multiple platforms including Playstation, Xbox, PC, and more, and releases on October 7th, 2021.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut and What’s Keeping The Hit Playstation Game Fresh

For a couple of months now, Ghost of Tsushima has been all the rage on the Playstation side of console gaming. In a blogpost direct from Playstation’s website, it was announced in early July that the breakout game was set to receive an expansion dubbed the Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut. An odd choice for a name given it is a game, but aptly named nonetheless if one is familiar with the game’s remarkable story and visuals. The new edition of the Ghost of Tsushima features a new chapter in the main character, Jin Sakai’s, story as well as “some new updates that are a direct response to some of the community’s most-requested features” (Playstation, 2021). For a quick and digestible overview of what the Director’s Cut entails, we’ll be referencing articles from Gamespot, IGN, and The Verge to get you up to speed.

What’s Different About the Director’s Cut?

As previously mentioned, Ghosts of Tsushima: Director’s Cut does more than simply add a new chapter of the story to the game. The new chapter adds a new area to explore, Iki Island, and updates and features fans have requested of Sucker Punch, the developer of the game. For one, Jason Connell, the creative and art director for the game, has stated that Jin Sakai will be getting more abilities in addition to the plethora he already possesses, as per Gamespot’s coverage of the topic. Additionally, according to comments made in the same article, Connell explains that the PS5 version of the game boasts a more immersive experience. The game takes full advantage of the PS5’s features, including utilizing the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers “to create a greater ‘spatial feeling’ in the environments around the player” (Gamespot, 2021). Essentially, the 3D audio coming from the controller will be able to simulate pretty believable sound effects that add to the experience.

Where the story is concerned, Jin Sakai will be pitted against the remaining Mongol forces on Iki Island, “gathered under the banner of the shaman Ankhsar Khatun” (Gamespot, 2021). The new villain is particularly interesting, as Khatun is not only a female antagonist, but may very well be impactful in different ways. According to an IGN article which details an interview with Jason Connell and the game’s Senior Writer Patrick Downs, Khatun’s goals may be different, as well as “‘her style of leadership [and] what she’s trying to accomplish…’” Patrick Downs also raises an equally interesting question, which asks whether or not this new style will “affect Jin in ways that maybe he hasn’t been challenged [in] before…’” (IGN, 2021). Jin looks like he’s going to be in for a tough time on Iki Island suffice it to say. 

The expansion will also include the addition of horse armor as well as a brand new horse skill, which allows the horse to charge ahead as a battering ram of sorts to tackle and disperse nearby enemies. In their blog, Playstation also mentions that there will be new techniques, new enemy types, new mini-games, lip-sync for the japanese dub of the game, game save transfers from the Playstation 4 (PS4) to the Playstation 5 (PS5), and other utility updates such as alternate controller layouts. Finally, an article by The Verge tells of a kind of “petting” expansion. Where players could only pet foxes, then dogs a few months after the game first released, the new expansion will allow players to also pet cats, deer, and monkeys (The Verge, 2021). Ghosts of Tsushima: Director’s Cut releases for the PS4 and the PS5 on August 20th, 2021. 

Will the Force be with Lucasfilm Games? recently announced that they would be starting up Lucasfilm Games, the new brand-heading for all video games Star Wars-related. The 1-11-21 press release says that Lucasfilm Games would be working “with world-class development teams across the industry to tell new tales in the Star Wars galaxy and beyond.” But what does this rebranding mean for Star Wars games, the game industry and… is it even necessary?

The announcement makes Lucasfilm Games sound like it will be structured similar to Marvel Games; in that, it is a division that manages internal and external stakeholders.

Photo Credit: LucasFilm Games

What the announcement doesn’t mention is whether Lucasfilm Games will be resurrecting their game development team. The last time there was a Lucas-led production team was when LucasArts Entertainment – that team that not only created classic Star Wars games but also created original licenses including Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, and the Monkey Island series. Sadly, LucasArts was closed in 2012 and some believe that Star Wars video games haven’t been the same since.

In 2010, Disney partnered exclusively with Electronic Arts to make Star Wars games. Some critics are saying the rebranding is an attempt by Disney and Lucasfilm to distance themselves from Electronic Arts, who has come under fire from the gaming community. A similar tactic was used by Warner Brothers with EA who used the brand “Portkey Games” for all EA created Harry Potter games.

The EA Star Wars games have garnered poor reviews, with the controversy stemming over loot boxes and product delays and cancellations of high profile titles. In the ten years they’ve had the exclusive license, EA has only released five major Star Wars games – Battlefield II, Jedi Fallen Order, Star Wars Squadron, The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne, and the mobile title Galaxy of Heroes.

The sizzle reel released with the Lucasfilm Games announcement focused on these EA games as well as the upcoming titles: Lego Star Wars: the Skywalker Saga – a reimagining of the classic Lego Star Wars console games – and several Star Wars-themed expansions for The Sims, Fortnite, and Minecraft.

If distancing from EA is the case for the rebranding, Lucasfilm’s worry isn’t justified. Most fans and players of Star Wars games are sophisticated enough to know that EA and Lucasfilm are two different entities. The problems of one don’t necessarily reflect on the other. And for us older Star Wars fans, we realize that there will always be bad Star Wars games and good Star Wars games. For every Star Wars Rebellion, Star Wars Kinect, and Star Wars Super Bombad Racing, there is a Star Wars: TIE Fighter, a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what Lucasfilm’s game division calls themselves, just as long as they keep making games worthy of the Star Wars license.

To learn more about the Game Design School of New York Film Academy, click here.

Q&A With NYFA Alum & Game Designer Grettir Ólafsson on Life After NYFA

NYFA’s own Game Design instructor Scott Rogers caught up with Grettir Ólaffson, who recently graduated from the New York Film Academy’s Game Design program, to ask him about life after college and what he’s currently working on.

Scott Rogers (SR): Hey Grettir! I understand you are working in game development after graduating NYFA. Where are you working at these days? 

Grettir Ólafsson (GO): I am currently working for Reverge Studios, the creators of the 2D fighting game SkullGirls.

‘Skull Girls’ (Reverge Studios)

SR: How did your path lead you to working at Reverge Studios?

GO: The CEO of the company had been a teacher at NYFA and we had a great working relationship that eventually led to me joining the team.

SR: What are your current job responsibilities?

GO: I am currently working as a split between designer and programmer

Title Card for VR game ‘Covert’

SR: What game are you working on?

GO: I’m currently not at liberty to say what it is.

SR: Mysterious! What have you been working on since leaving NYFA?

GO: I was a game designer for a co-op VR game – Covert – that was initially released on the Oculus GO and later on the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. It was my first job after finishing NYFA and I joined development when they were perhaps about 15% of the way done.

SR: Covert looks pretty cool! How has what you’ve learned at NYFA helped you as a working game developer?

GO: For me, what I got most out of NYFA was how to work well in a team with many different disciplines. I came in with an undergraduate degree in Software Engineering, so it made the most sense to me to continue using that as much as I could. A lot of my work on Covert involved programming and not just design. So the combination of the two fields of study have benefited me greatly.

SR: It sounds like you got a well-rounded education at NYFA. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

GO: I have a pet project in the works but it’s nothing that I want/can talk about publicly at this moment.

SR: I look forward to seeing more about it when you can talk about it! Thank you for catching up with us! It sounds like your game development career is taking off! Congratulations!

GO: Thank you!

For more information on NYFA’s Game Design program offerings, click here

10 Board Games to Play Using Video Conferencing

Current events continue to keep most of the population indoors for extended periods of time, affecting everything from studying to working to, yes, even gaming. Social distancing is keeping people from gathering together and playing their favorite board games, and while there are plenty of virtual tabletop software solutions–nothing beats playing an opponent that you can see.

However, thanks to software such as Skype and Zoom, tabletop gamers can still get together “live.” Some titles work better than others via video conferencing. Keep in mind, it helps if everyone has access to the rules and at least one player has a copy of the physical game.

The best games are ones where either information is public knowledge or, if there is secret information, it is either easily tracked or only in the hands of one player. Here are some suggestions for board and dice games that work well over video conferencing:

Qwixx (Gamewright) 

Qwixx is a thrilling, fast-paced group dice game. One player can roll the dice for the other players. The play sheet can be printed out by other players which you can find here.
A digital version of the score sheet can be found here.

Zombie/Martian Dice (Steve Jackson Games)

Zombie Dice and its sibling game Martian Dice are dice games with a supernatural twist. One player rolls the dice while the other players decide whether to push their luck or not. If anyone wants to be “more engaged” they can be the scorekeeper.

Farkle/Bupkiss (Various)

Another dice game with many variations where one player “handles” the dice while the other players decide to press their luck. You don’t even need to buy this game, you really only need any five dice – but why not support a game publisher during these hard times?

King of Tokyo (IELLO)

As with the other dice games above, in this quirky kaiju-inspired game, one player rolls the dice and moves the monsters while the other players tell them their moves. You will have to let the other players see the “market” of cards and track their energy cubes on their own, but this can be easily managed by the “lead” player.

dice board game

Space Base (AEG)

Space Base might get a little more complicated, employing a market of cards, but as long as a player can see them while tracking their own base and upgrades, this game is doable over a video conference system. A “lead” player can manage the dice rolls for the other players (or you can “roll your own” at home) Some of the game’s files (and the rules) are available as printable files at 

Codenames (CZE) 

As long as all of the other players can see the cards, Codenames is a perfectly fine game to play using video conferencing. It might be a good idea to use chat or sending a scan of the code card to the two players that are the “choosers” for each team.

Formula D (Asmodee)

Another game that requires the “lead” player to set up the board, manipulate the pieces and roll the dice (note that the dice in Formula D have customized numbers on them, you can’t just use standard polyhedral dice) but as long as the other players can see where they are, the game moves pretty quickly. Just remember to track damage as you blow through a turn.

Santorini (Roxley)

Playing Santorini over video conferencing is like playing Chess by mail. The decisions are simple enough that one player can control the board while the other player offers moves. Or, you could each have the game set up at home and replicate moves with each other.

Pantone the Game (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

[Editor’s Note: Full disclosure: this game is designed by this article’s author, NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers]

In this game perfect for video conferencing, the “lead” player makes their character before the rest of the players get their turn to guess it. The game even lends itself to being played over text and direct messaging. Ideally, each player owns their own copy (rather than pilfering paint swatches from the hardware store!)

Honorary Mentions:

These are a few other games that work well with video conferencing and even have a pretty healthy community that are already playing them that way: Chess, Yahtzee, Werewolf/Mafia, Mastermind, and Dungeon and Dragons (or any Role Playing Game)

dice board game dungeons & dragons

Six Cool Indie Games You Need to Play (Or At Least Be Aware Of)

If you want to make video games, you need to be playing video games. But while the latest and greatest AAA console games are a great place to start, they often aren’t very innovative. Big publishers typically aren’t willing to take risks with their game designs (there’s too much at risk) and instead tend to concentrate on sequels or games based on established intellectual properties known to sell well. If you want to find truly unique and innovative games, you usually need to go indie.

Indie (independent) games are developed by game developers who work “independent” of the big game publishers and hardware manufacturers, usually with much smaller budgets. Their creators are driven by innovation, creativity, and passion rather than the “bottom line,” often resulting in gameplay and game stories that are more quirky, unusual or even bizarre than their big-budget competitors. 

Many of the hit games of tomorrow will be created by these maverick creators, so let’s get to know some of their games:


Developed by Limbo’s Playdead, this puzzle-platformer lets the player swap bodies as they make their way through a surreal, dark environment. Mind control, a mysterious laboratory, and a sinister conspiracy are just part of the mysteries the player has to reveal in Inside. You can play Inside on Xbox One, PS4, Apple TV, iOS, and Nintendo Switch

Slay The Spire

Part deck-builder, part roguelike; Slay the Spire has players use card combinations to fight their way up a spire in a fantasy world, while collecting treasure and magic relics. It has all the fun of a card game like Dominion with all of the action of a video game. Developed by MegaCrit, you can play Slay The Spire on Windows, Linux, MacOS, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. 

Enter the Gungeon

What do you get when you mix a dungeon crawler with a bullet hell shooter? Boasting more gun-themed puns than you can shake a revolver at, Enter the Gungeon lets players shoot, loot, and dodge roll their way through this clever roguelike game from Devolver Digital. You can play Enter the Gungeon on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

My Friend Pedro

This action platformer by DeadToast Entertainment has you playing as an acrobatic amnesiac who, with the help of a talking banana, has to take out the criminal underworld. Originally based on an Adobe Flash game, My Friend Pedro is available on Windows and the Nintendo Switch. If you are a fan of the action and humor of the Deadpool movies, then this is the game for you.


When two best buds end up in Hell, they learn they can get out if they out-party Satan. This upcoming, humorous adventure game is created by Night School Studios, the same team that created Oxenfree, and has a real “classic LucasArts adventure game” vibe. You can play AfterParty later this year.

Untitled Goose Game

This stealth game, developed by House House, allows players to control a goose who goes around bothering the inhabitants of an English village. Honk, flap, and steal items to both help and annoy the villagers and complete puzzle-like objectives. The game has become a critical and commercial hit; you can play the Untitled Goose Game on MacOS, Windows and Nintendo Switch.

Google Stadia: Is This the Future of Gaming?

At this year’s  Game Developers Conference (GDC), internet behemoth Google announced their bid into the streaming gaming market: the Google Stadia. The Stadia (plural for “Stadium”) is a console-less, cloud-based, online streaming game service. Google claims that if you have a device that can run a Chrome browser, you can play any Stadia game on it. The Stadia will launch in November of 2019 and a free version will be available in February of 2020. 

Streaming services are all the rage these days and with so many other competitors–PlayStation Now, GeForce Now, Blade Shadow, and rumored services from Nintendo and Microsoft on the horizon – how does the Stadia stack up?

The Stadia Founder’s Edition, due out this November, includes a three-month subscription of Stadia Pro, a three-month Buddy Pass, a controller, a Chromecast Ultra and a Founder’s Stadia Name (likely a user account/name) for $129. Stadia is only available through Chrome, Chromecast, and on Android devices.

While this is inexpensive for a console, it’s a bit pricey for just a controller and three-month access to a streaming system. Once the trial ends, players will have to pay $9.99 a month for the Pro subscription price. Add to the cost that Stadia players will have to buy their games, rather than have a selection available a la Netflix, and the Stadia might end up costing users just as much as any other game streaming service.

google stadia

At first glance, the controller looks very traditional, but it does come with a few surprises. Most interesting is the built-in recording button in the center of the controller that makes a bold statement – your gameplay is meant to be shared. But what does Stadia streaming services offer that Twitch and YouTube doesn’t? Google has yet to say. The controller also sports an in-game help button, which might be useful to novice gamers, but will it turn off experienced ones?

Many of Stadia’s critics are worried about Google’s ability to combat latency. While reports from Gamescom 2019 were positive, others were skeptical about Stadia’s claims. Some previewers have noted that the bandwidth for Stadia – coupled with regular or high usage of internet and cell phone – might overwhelm the average gamer’s data plan. Stadia uses 16gb an hour–which will add up during marathon gaming sessions. 

For casual players, a longer latency won’t be an issue, but add to this concerns about image quality due to screen size, connection speeds and compression. These technical issues might be deal breakers for the streaming gaming audience Google is after. 

Others are worried about Google’s commitment to the platform if all doesn’t go as planned. Google has a history of launching new services and–when they didn’t work out–then shutting them down, including Google Plus, Google Base, and Picasa, to name a few. That’s fine and understandable and well within their right, but where does that leave users? All of those games that you bought on Stadia would suddenly be gone.

While Stadia has announced a lineup of about 30 games so far, there are very few exclusives. “Big exclusive games win the day, and Stadia does not have any,” DFC Intelligence’s David Cole said in an interview with “The initial lineup was all over the map, and simply not that compelling.” Stadia’s big titles like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Doom Eternal, and Farming Simulator 19 are all available on other systems and the Stadia’s exclusives right now are the yet-unknown Gylt and Get Packed

With all this in mind, in the end it’s up to you whether or not the Google Stadia is the right choice for you.

6 Awesome Game Designers You Should Know

Most gamers have heard of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario and the Legend of Zelda series, or they might know of Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear series. Or maybe they’ve seen Sid Meier’s or Will Wright’s name on the box cover of their favorite game. But there are plenty of unsung heroes and heroines in the game industry. 

Link Zelda

Here are six game designers you should know about:

Richard Bartle

Richard Bartle is one of the creators of Multi-User Dungeon, or MUD1, the very first massively multiplayer online game. Bartle, an educator at Essex, was teaching in the department of computing and electronic systems when he helped design the game with Roy Trubshaw in 1978. MUD1 was inspired by the classic text adventure game Zork and was the first shared virtual world in which 36 other players could join in at once to talk, play, and help each other. When Bartle wanted to learn what kind of players were playing his game, he created the “Bartle’s Test” to find out who they were: Explorers, Socializers, Achievers, or Killers. Bartle’s taxonomy has been helping game developers improve their games ever since! You can find out what kind of player you are by taking Bartle’s test here.

Chris Crawford

Computer game designer Chris Crawford programmed the much-loved strategy game Balance of Power in the early 80s, but it was his advocacy of games as a field of study and as an art form that earns him a spot on this list. His scholarly works–The Art of Computer Game Design, The Art of Interactive Game Design, and his Journal of Computer Game Design were some of the first academic works about video games. But even more influential is the creation of the Game Developers Conference in 1987, which is now attended by thousands of game developers from around the world and is one of the premiere events for discussion and learning about the game industry.     

Danielle Bunten Berry

Danielle Bunten Berry was the creator of the highly-influential computer games M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold. In the mid-80s she created Modem Wars, one of the first games played over a modem. Many consider her work ahead of its time and she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Computer Game Developers Association. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1998 before she could create even more games with rapidly-advancing technology.

Mark Cerny

You’d think working at Atari at the age of 17 would be a big enough achievement for Mark Cerny, the programmer who created Marble Madness. But as the industry’s most influential consultant, Cerny has a ridiculous amount of AAA games to his credit including Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Death Stranding. He’s developed a teaching method for games – including the “vertical slice” – that is used by developers all over the world. For his contributions, Cerny been inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.


Spider-Man Game

Jordan Weisman

Jordan Weisman is a game designer and author who has literally mastered every genre of game design! RPG, VR, Tabletop, Video Game, ARG–he’s done it all! Weisman’s career started by creating adventures for the role-playing game Traveller. His RPG company, FASA, introduced the popular BattleTech and Shadowrun franchises. He transitioned into VR with the creation of Virtual Worlds Entertainment in 1987. His BattleTech simulators are still some of the most realistic gaming experiences ever created. Weisman moved into video games to produce the MechWarrior series of games, one of the top selling PC games of all times. In 2000, he designed the “clix” miniature tabletop game for his company WizKids. The games Mage Knight, HeroClix and Pirates of the Spanish Main were all top sellers. His alternate reality game company 42 Entertainment created memorable and groundbreaking titles like I Love Bees and Year Zero. He has also authored an interactive novel called Cathy’s Book.

Gunpei Yokoi

Gunpei Yokoi started his career designing electronics for maintaining the assembly-line machines used to manufacture Nintendo trading cards in 1965. After the company transitioned into video games, Yokoi found his first big hit with a light gun toy that became the foundation for Nintendo’s Zapper gun peripheral. Yokoi also created the Game & Watch mobile game which introduced the D-Pad Controller and became the foundation for much of Nintendo’s game systems for the next 30 years. He supervised the production of the Donkey Kong arcade game, Nintendo’s first big hit, and worked with Shigeru Miyamoto on many projects including Mario Bros. He was the producer of Metroid and Kid Icarus and designed the famous R.O.B. the Robot which was included with the Famicom game system. He was the creative lead on the immensely popular Game Boy game system as well as the creator of the ill-fated Virtual Boy system. Yokoi sadly passed away in 1996 but his inventions and contributions have left an indelible impact on the gaming industry.


Interested in becoming the next great game designer? Check out the programs offered by the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design school here!

Written by Scott Rogers, NYFA Game Design Instructor

The Top 10 Legend of Zelda Games

It’s hard to imagine video games without The Legend of Zelda. Time and time again, Nintendo uses this iconic series to try and set the action-adventure bar higher than before. Although there’s no perfect list since everyone has their nostalgic and subjective favorites and we’ve all grown to love different Zelda titles in our lives, here’s a Top 10 List of Zelda games you can argue over with your friends:

  1. The Minish Cap
    Game Boy Advance, November 2004

Developed in partnership with Capcom, this mobile Zelda has stood the test of time thanks to its charming visuals and solid gameplay. Instead of going for any big innovations, the developers focused on creating their own colorful take on classic Zelda gameplay. Of course, shrinking down into a tiny version of Link and uncovering new secrets is still one of the most unique abilities of any Zelda game. The quirky cast of characters, including Link’s witty sidekick, also help make The Minish Cap worthy of this list.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

  1. A Link Between Worlds
    Nintendo 3DS, November 2013

Rumors of a remake of A Link to the Past had been swirling for more than a decade by the time this 3DS title arrived. Instead, Nintendo launched a sequel that manages to be both a love letter to the classic SNES title while also giving us a fresh take on the traditional Zelda formula. A Link Between Worlds features an item-rental system that lets players take on its dungeons and areas in any order. Its captivating story, wall-merging ability, and beautiful modern version of Hyrule and its dark counterpart helped remind players why 2D Zelda is just as good as the console ones.

  1. The Legend of Zelda
    NES, February 1986

The first entry in this iconic series arrived in 1986, immediately revolutionizing game design by offering one of the first true nonlinear adventures. In a time when players were used to running from left to right or down a set path, The Legend of Zelda dropped players into a dangerous world with little direction. The thrill of freely exploring Hyrule was unmatched as players learned from their mistakes, collected useful objects, and uncovered all kinds of secrets. To this day it stands as a must-play Zelda for those craving a tough, rewarding journey.

  1. Twilight Princess
    GameCube & Wii, November 2006

After finding success with The Wind Waker’s colorful visuals, Nintendo went back to the dark style of previous Zelda titles. Twilight Princess allowed players to explore the most realistic and expansive Hyrule yet, this time also as a wolf. Looking to Ocarina of Time for inspiration, this 2006 adventure featured some very impressive dungeons and weapons along with a grimmer story. Although there were some pacing problems at the start of in the original, the HD re-release for Wii U fixed most of them.

  1. Link’s Awakening
    Game Boy, June 1993

The dream of fitting a Zelda adventure in our pocket became a reality when Link’s Awakening arrived on the Game Boy in 1993. Doubts that a handheld Zelda could match the acclaimed Link to the Past quickly went away as players got lost exploring the mysterious Koholint Island. Link’s Awakening proved to be everything fans of the series loved while also feeling fresh thanks to its strange story, quirky characters, and challenging dungeons. Despite the technical limitations, this top Zelda game is certainly worth visiting 25 years later.

  1. Majora’s Mask
    Nintendo 64, April 2000

Despite having just completed Ocarina of Time, the Zelda team was challenged with creating another title in less than two years. Forced to come up with unique designs and ideas, Nintendo ended up creating a dark, unforgettable Zelda title experience. Majora’s Mask is brimming with emotion as you meet and help characters dealing with the imminent end of the world. A constant feeling of doom drives the tried-and-true gameplay as Link manipulates time like never before, wields dozens of masks, and takes on various forms to save the day.

  1. The Wind Waker
    GameCube, December 2002

At a time when players had an obsession with realism in games, Nintendo did the opposite by creating a cartoonish Zelda using innovative cel-shading graphics. Their gamble paid off when The Wind Waker immediately captivated players with its combination of gorgeous visuals, addicting gameplay, and memorable cast of characters. Its expansive ocean world and moving story also help make it one of the top Zelda games everyone should play.

  1. A Link to the Past
    A Link to the Past, November 1991

If there’s one Zelda that went on to influence the rest of the series, it’s this one. A Link to the Past was seen as a technological marvel — players couldn’t believe the world’s scale, complete with an entire alternate version that surprises players halfway through the game. Vibrant graphics, thought-provoking gameplay, and incredible music are only a few of the many reasons why this 1991 title is still worth playing nearly three decades later.

  1. Breath of the Wild
    Nintendo Switch, March 2017

The latest Zelda title is also considered by many to be the best. Breath of the Wild arrived when players wanted huge open worlds full of fun things to do and interesting locations to visit. Nintendo delivered by introducing one of the vastest interactive worlds we’ve seen so far in a video game, complete with a design that lets you explore freely with little limitation. Everything from the physics and combat to the breathtaking locales evoke a sense of wonder not many other open world games can provide.

  1. Ocarina of Time
    Nintendo 64, November 1998

One of the most groundbreaking titles in the history of video games, Ocarina of Time‘s achievements resonate even 20 years later. Nintendo’s’ masterpiece pioneered a number of innovations, including being able to lock onto enemies and objects — a mechanic now expected in modern 3D games like God of War and Red Dead Redemption II. Offering a memorable and emotional story, expansive world full of charming characters, engrossing action-adventure gameplay, and much, much more, Ocarina of Time will always stand as a significant leap forward in game technology and design.

Bandersnatch: Are You Ready for Interactive Storytelling? Press ‘Left’ for YES

This December, Netflix anthology series Black Mirror released their first “interactive narrative” episode, entitled Bandersnatch. The critical response was explosive, with some reviewers calling it “groundbreaking” and that the episode “shows what Netflix can do”.

Bandersnatch is not the first interactive narrative that Netflix has created. The media service has already created interactive shows based on Dreamworks’ Puss in Boots, Stretch Armstrong, and the hit video game Minecraft — notably, these were made for younger audiences.

But just what is interactive narrative storytelling and more importantly, what can you do to prepare yourself to design content for it?

Just to clarify, Netflix’s “interactive narrative storytelling” isn’t quite a game or a movie, but an extension of existing interactive stories like the Telltale adventures The Walking Dead or Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. These choice-based stories run about 30 minutes long, with (usually) six to twelve decision points over the course of the story.

interactive telltale guardians of the galaxy

Interactive Narrative is based on the concept of branching narrative – a story that resembles a tree of decisions (hence the term “branching”) that moves the stories off in different directions. The hero of a branching narrative can start in a cave in Montana and end up in Medieval Europe or all the way back in prehistoric times!

All branching narratives use two main components to create their stories: a decision point and a bottleneck point.

Decision points are when the protagonist of a story is forced to make a decision between two or more choices. Often one choice furthers the story while the other leads to the end – often death for the character.

You can have more than two decision points, but the more you create, the more story content you will have to create as well. The “branches” of a branching narrative can grow quickly and exponentially, so how do you keep the storylines from getting out of controls? That’s where bottleneck points come in.

Bottleneck points are places in the story where all the branches in the story all lead to the same place. For example, it won’t matter if you are nice to the Knight or insult the King, you still end up in the dungeon.

These bottleneck points keep things on track for the writer and you usually want to introduce a few of these over the course of the story to keep the narrative “under control.”

If you’re thinking of writing an interactive, it helps to be familiar with where they come from and where they might be going:

The Cave of Time (1979)

While experiments in branching narrative date all the way back to the ‘40s (with Jorge Luis Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths), the first book of the pivotal Choose Your Own Adventure series was written by Edward Packard and published by Scholastic. The books are written in second-person, talking to its young readers directly.

In The Cave of Time, you are a young boy who wanders into a cave but comes out in a variety of locations and time periods. Some of the paths lead to fame and fortune, others to an untimely end. The book was so popular that over 184 Choose Your Own Adventure titles were published over two decades.

Genres ranged from fantasy to sci-fi to mystery. An amazing visualization of the branching narrative of the Choose Your Own Adventure series can be found at:

Fighting Fantasy (1982)

Over in the UK, Ian Livingstone (who would become one of the co-founders of board game company Games Workshop) wrote his own version of Choose Your Own Adventure books. But Livingstone, being a big RPG gamer, added dice rolls and D&D style stats to his series. These “gamebooks” were a big hit with and over 60 titles were published in the course of the series.

Dragon’s Lair (1983)

The arcade game by Cinematronics and RDI Video Systems was the first to use the then-cutting-edge laser disc technology. Laser disc not only allowed for high-fidelity image and sound, but it allowed the game’s code to access any of the disc’s tracks in any order. Players had to make a choice (usually a direction or a sword attack) within a few seconds’ time; the wrong choice resulted in a humorous death animation.

Under the leadership of ex-Disney animator Don Bluth, Dragon’s Lair was a huge success. It was followed by a sequel, Time Warp, and the space-themed game Space Ace. Unfortunately high costs of production shut down Cinematronics in 1984.

HyperCard (1987)

While computer-based Hypertext systems have existed since the 1960s, it was the inclusion of HyperCard on Apple’s Macintosh computers that allowed branching narratives to become easier to create. Coupled with the Macintosh’s drawing programs, designers and authors could write their own interactive novels and distribute them via floppy disc.

Eventually the publishers of text adventure games such as Infocom got into the act; creating interactive fiction games based on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and James Clavell’s Shogun, as well as original titles such as 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery and Journey: The Quest Begins.

SCUMM (1987)

The “Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion” or SCUMM for short was created by the game developers at LucasArts for their adventure game series. Rather than using complex word parsers like those found in text adventure games, the LucasArts team eventually migrated their interface to a “point and click” system for making choices, manipulating objects and talking with characters. Some of their games like Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series to this day are considered classics of the interactive adventure genre.

Mass Effect (2007)

Primarily a third-person action game, Mass Effect different from other shooters by focusing on the story. Inspired by the LucasArts games and the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Mass Effect included a “morality system” that allowed players to make choices that impact the plot and their relationship with the other characters in the game. As a result, players felt the story had an infinite amount of possibilities to where it would lead. (Although in reality, they only had 8 possible endings to the game.)

Chad, Matt & Rob’s Interactive Adventures! (2008)

Creators fired up their creativity when YouTube announced that hyperlink style links that could be placed on videos. Chad, Matt & Rob’s Time Machine was one of the first of these interactive narrative videos on the platform. Since then, not only storytellers but advertisers have utilized the interactive feature for their own videos. A quick guide to learn how to make your own interactive YouTube videos can be found here.

Telltale Games (2010)

Following in the steps of LucasArts, Telltale Games single-handedly resurrected the adventure game genre with the release of Sam and Max: Season One on the iPad. The company has since created several interactive games based on popular intellectual properties including Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Batman and The Walking Dead game.

Ready to make your own Interactive Stories?

Inspired? Here at New York Film Academy, we teach interactive narrative in several of our Game Design and Screenwriting programs. Here are just a few of the tips and tricks we teach to help students create their own interactive narrative games:

  1.    Remember the basics of screenwriting. Even though interactive narratives twist and turn all over the place, they still follow the basic format of all storytelling. Game stories and screenplays are pretty similar in form and format.
  2.    Make sure the choices make sense. When thinking about where you want the story to go, think about the natural choices the reader will have for the character they are playing as. If the protagonist is standing in front of a haunted house, the choices might be a) open the front door or b) walk around to the back of the house. It doesn’t need to be any more complex than that.
  3.    Make sure the results are fair. One of the biggest complaints about interactive narratives is that the effect of an action (as in “cause and effect”) doesn’t make sense, or is even fair. Give your readers/players some sort of foreshadowing to let them know what might happen if they make the right or wrong choice.
  4.    Work backwards if you need to. Sometimes working backwards from the ending you want to have is the best way to keep your storyline from sprawling all over the place.

Good luck on writing those interactive narratives and remember that game design opportunities can come from a variety of places — not just games!

9 Great Games From the Last 12 Months

January and February tend to be a quiet time for game releases, especially following the pre-Holiday season in the Fall. While there’s plenty of new video games coming down the pipeline to get excited later in 2019, we thought we’d look back at some of the best titles released in the last 12 months. Chances are, you haven’t play them all yet, and there’s still time to get 100% completion before highly anticipated sequels to The Division, Psychonauts, and Gears of War come out.

Red Dead Redemption II by Rockstar Games
Play on: PS4, Xbox One

What better way to start the list than with perhaps the most anticipated game of last year. Nearly ten years after the award-winning original landed in 2010, Rockstar delivered another Old West masterpiece. Red Dead Redemption II lets you explore an expansive open world as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and member of Dutch’s old gang. Boasting incredible visuals, improved gunslinger gameplay, and an interesting prequel story, no wonder so many critics named it Game of the Year.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate by Nintendo
Play on: Switch

Super Smash Bros. is the beloved fighting series that needs no introduction. With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo strove to once again outdo themselves by offering every character that has ever appeared in a previous Smash Bros. title. More than 100 stages and nearly a thousand music tracks were also packed in, not to mention the return of a story mode.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey by Ubisoft Quebec
Play on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

For almost a decade, gamers have counted on Ubisoft to release an Assassin’s Creed game annually. The last notable entry, Origins, was the first to get an extra year of development time as the series’ formula was evolved more than ever before. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds off its predecessor with an even bigger world and more emphasis on new RPG elements as players dive into the historic Peloponnesian War fought between Sparta and Athens.

Assassin's Creed

Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac Games
Play on: PS4

Despite being a uber-popular comic book hero and finding success on the big screen, it’s been years since someone has made a solid game featuring our favorite web-slinger. Insomniac Games didn’t buckle under the pressure of handling their first licensed game and instead delivered a phenomenal superhero adventure. Marvel’s Spider-Man has everything you could want from a Spider-Man game: a huge New York City to swing across, Photo Mode, familiar allies, almost every major villain, dozens of unlockable suits, and much, much more.

Forza Horizon 4 by Turn 10 Studios
Play on: Xbox One, PC

The Forza series has cemented itself in recent years as one of the top sim racing video games and top grossing video game franchises. Forza Horizon 4 raises the bar even more with its excellent gameplay, coupled with gorgeous graphics that now include a dynamic weather system. Each week, all the tracks transform as the next season in the year arrives, introducing new visuals and environmental hazards. A shared online world is another reason why critics and gamers are together praising this entry as arguably the most acclaimed in its series history.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 by Treyarch
Play on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

With Black Ops 4, Treyarch has taken a massive gamble by placing their focus on the multiplayer experience, completely omitting a story-driven single-player campaign. Instead, the team joined the Battle Royale race made famous by PUBG and Fornite — letting 100 players face off against each other until only one remains standing. Also included is ever-popular Zombies mode, as well as shorter Solo Missions that reveal the backstories of certain multiplayer characters.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider by Eidos-Montréal
Play on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

In 2013, the series that helped shape the 3D action-adventure genre received a much-praised reboot. Its follow-up, Rise of the Tomb Raider, also impressed by combining exciting gameplay with captivating storytelling. Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes Lara Croft to yet another exotic location as she tries to stop a group of archaeologists up to no good in an ancient Mayan area. Croft’s latest adventure has been praised for its great writing, strong emphasis on exploration, and beautiful visuals.

Tomb Raider

Mega Man 11 by Capcom
Play on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Mega Man fans have long been left out in the cold as Capcom ignored the beloved series since the release of Mega Man 10 in 2010. The wait is finally over as the Blue Bomber returned with a few exciting changes. Although the classic tough-as-nails gameplay is still there, Mega Man 11 features a modern art style as well as two abilities new to the series. Mega Man can now slow down time with the Speed Gear, raise his attack power with the Power Gear, and use a combination of both as he faces Dr. Wily’s latest robot bosses.

Fallout 76 by Bethesda Game Studios
Play on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The famed shooter-RPG hybrid opened its expansive world even more last year and let players explore its post-apocalyptic landscape alongside friends. Fallout 76 is yet another 2018 game focused on multiplayer by giving players the chance to team up and/or destroy each other in a West Virginia wasteland. The world is many times bigger than that of Fallout 4 and expands on many of its popular gameplay features, including the ability to build a base anywhere. While initial reactions have been mixed, the developers also promise to listen carefully to the community in order to make this Fallout the MMO (massive multiplayer online) fans have dreamed of for years.

Honorable Mentions


  • Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Let’s Go, Eevee! (Switch)
  • Just Cause 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Darksiders III (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Monster Boy & The Cursed Kingdom (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Soulcalibur VI (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Insomniac’s Spider-Man and Why AAA Games Still Matter

Last September, Sony released Spider-Man, the 35th video game based on the popular Marvel comic book superhero. The game, developed by Insomniac Games (Ratchet and Clank, Spyro the Dragon), retailed for $59.99 and was exclusive to the Sony Playstation 4. It took two years to develop the game and its production is estimated to have cost around 100 million dollars.

Triple-A (AAA) is the classification used for a video game that receives the highest budget from a publisher, both for production and for marketing. An AAA game is expected to be of the highest quality and to earn a high profit to justify its expensive costs. In short, an AAA game is the video game equivalent to a blockbuster film.

AAA games like Spider-Man are expensive and time consuming to make. Their premium retail price can be expensive for the consumer. You might ask, with the decline in console sales, why developers are even making AAA games at all? As it turns out, AAA games are still worth creating, for numerous reasons.

AAA games generate excitement for the industry

At 2018’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Spider-Man gained 37 awards from industry news outlets. It topped dozens of  “most anticipated games of 2018” lists. Despite there being hundreds of games released a year, only AAA games typically get this kind of attention. More media coverage means more gamers paying attention to a game, which leads to more excitement for a game – which can result in big sales on release day.

AAA titles are often used as a vehicle for launching a new intellectual property. When Tomb Raider debuted in 1996, Eidos went all in on their marketing and licensing for the action/adventure game, putting the character on everything from action figures to magazine covers to shower gel bottles.

With commercials that looked more like perfume ads than for video games, Tomb Raider demanded attention. Eidos even hired a real-life actress to play the character for media events. Thanks to Eidos’ media push, Lara Croft appeared all over the news. For a few years in the 90s, Lara was the face of video games. Launching a new IP is always a huge risk, but when it pays off, it pays off big.

Spider-Man Game

AAA games create jobs

As of 2018, there are 22 major publishers who make what can be considered AAA games — employing over 300,000 developers in the industry. The majority of working game developers in the United States are working on AAA games.

AAA games don’t just employ game developers, however. Think of all of the people related to the creation and release of these games – marketing, PR, legal, cutscenes, publicity material, advertising material, commercial directors, and more. There’s a reason why the credits on AAA games are so lengthy.

AAA games influence the public’s perception of gaming

The extraordinary marketing budget for AAA games allows their publishers to reach more consumers through a variety of advertisements. Consumers are bombarded by ads through television, internet, magazine, billboards, and even buses. Thanks to this constant stream of advertising, this means that the majority of games that consumers are exposed to are primarily advertised AAA games. Ask consumers and the media about which upcoming games and they will most likely respond with AAA titles.

Almost half of the top 10 games for 2018 were console exclusives. The truth is, AAA games are what sell consoles for the big three (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) and as long as consoles dominate store shelves such as Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, these will be the games the consumers will be exposed to. While consumers can purchase smaller, independent titles elsewhere, learning about them and finding them in the store can sometimes be difficult.

Spider-Man Game

The AAA single player experience is still a thing

In 2017, EA cancelled their AAA Star Wars game, citing that a “linear adventure game” wasn’t relevant to today’s multiplayer audiences. However, if the success of games such as Spider-Man (3.3 million copies in opening weekend), Red Dead Redemption ($725 million opening weekend), and God of War (5 million copies sold to date) are any indication, the linear adventure game experience is far from dead. According to gamers and game designers alike, linear narrative games are still the best way for game designers to tell a story.

Single-player experiences allow gamers to live out the adventure of a character, which is one of the most exciting aspects in gaming. Have you ever wondered why so many shooters like Fortnite and PUBG display the player in first person? Because it is supposed to be you, the player. However, most story-based narratives will show its character using a third person camera, because it is the best way for the player to see what the character is doing on their adventure and how they carry themselves throughout.

Out of a 2017 survey, 9 out of 10 best known characters were in games that used a third person camera.

While some may complain that AAA games are ruining the industry, the truth is that big-budget titles like Spider-Man keep consumers excited for games, employ game developers, and make the video game industry the highest-earning entertainment industry in the world.

5 Trends in Game Design to Watch Out for in 2019

The video game industry can be a tricky beast to predict. Who could have expected a little sandbox game called Minecraft to dominate pop culture, or for the Nintendo Switch to explode despite its predecessor being a sales failure?

As gaming continues to evolve, developers do their best to design experiences that will make players happy and hopefully even become the next big thing. Below are some game design trends to watch out for in 2019:

1. More Battle Royale

If there’s one trend that dominated 2018 and shows no sign of stopping in 2019, it’s the Battle Royale genre. The tremendous success of PUBG and Fortnite, the latter boasting an incredible 125 million players, has certainly caught the attention of other developers now looking to take a stab at the popular genre. Even the biggest traditional shooter series like Battlefield and Call of Duty are already releasing their own Battle Royale modes in 2018, which means we’re likely to see many more games of this type released (and announced) in 2019.

Interesting data from WePC:

  • More than half of core PC gamers in China play PUBG.
  • Fortnite has dominated Twitch in 2018, averaging 118 million hours viewed across  over 8,000 Twitch channels

2. Devs Will Rethink Loot Boxes

After the fiasco surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront II at the end of 2017, many gamers expected developers to shy away from loot boxes. They have been one of the more controversial subjects in the game industry — countries like China and Japan are even classifying them as gambling.

Of course, developers can’t ignore the fact that microtransactions in free-to-play games raked in $20 billion in 2017. Instead of disappearing, loot boxes will likely still be around in 2019, though developers may take a page out of Epic Games’ book and focus more on cosmetic items that don’t give players a gameplay advantage.

Interesting fact:

  • Fortnite: Battle Royale, a free game, has brought in more than $1.2 billion in revenue entirely from cosmetic purchases like dance moves and character skins.

3. eSport-Focused Design

There was a time when the best place gamers had to show their skills in front of a crowd was at the local arcade. With competitive gaming, today’s top players in the world take the stage as hundreds of live viewers (and thousands more online) watch them compete for prize pools ranging in the millions. The success of eSports already has developers studying popular games while revising their designs in hopes that their title will become a must-play in the competitive scene. At the end of the day, companies know that gaming communities ultimately decide which titles are fun and exciting enough to enter the eSports realm.

Interesting data from WePC:

  • Overwatch is the most talked about game in 2016 with 75,000 online articles mentioning the game. (Statista, 2017)
  • Twitch viewers spent 355 billion hours watching videos on the platform in 2017, that’s 32% up from 241 billion hours in 2015.


4. Rise in Cross-Platform Play

Gamers can be best friends in real life but never play together because one lives in an Xbox household while the other lives in a Playstation one. In 2018, we got our first taste of full cross-platform support as Fortnite allowed mobile, console, and PC gamers to take up arms alongside one another — even Sony eventually buckled under the pressure.

As the mobile market continues skyrocketing in growth, console and PC devs are also realizing the benefits of opening the doors to iPhone and Android gamers. Creating games that are fun (and stable) no matter what device you’re holding is sure to challenge developers in 2019 and beyond, but their efforts may be worth it.

Interesting fact:

  • While Fortnite is currently still the only game you can play cross-platform on any device, there are already dozens of partial cross-platform titles. Some include: Minecraft, Rocket League, Phantasy Star Online 2, and Forza Horizon 4.

5. Focus On Either Single-Player or Multiplayer

Activision turned heads when they announced that Black Ops 4 would not have a story campaign — a first in the iconic Call of Duty series. At the same time, groundbreaking games like God of War and Red Dead Redemption II have shown that players still crave story-driven games.

Judging by the latest trends, it’s possible that devs will continue putting their work into either just single or multiplayer games. Even if it feels like a step backwards to those of us who grew up when almost all triple-A games released with both modes, we’re betting more companies will join the trend in 2019.

Interesting facts:

  • Despite being a multiplayer-only $60 game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 surpassed $500 million worldwide in only three days. (Business Wire)
  • God of War, a single-player only game, sold five million copies in one month, becoming one of the top selling PlayStation 4 games ever.
  • Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, two single-player Nintendo Switch games, were some of the highest rated titles in 2017.

The Architecture of Fear: Level Design Lessons from Haunted Houses

Los Angeles celebrates Halloween better than any other city on Earth. Maybe it’s because so many Hollywood special effects artists live here, or because there are so many theme park enthusiasts who create their own home-made attractions. Or perhaps it’s because LA is home to many famous Halloween-o-philes including Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, and Guillermo Del Toro. Whatever the reason, there is something special about Los Angeles at Halloween time.

Every year at Halloween, instructors from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design school give the same advice: If students really want to learn some great lessons about level design, they should visit a haunted house. Not a real haunted house, but one of the dozens of fabricated haunted houses that can be found around the greater Los Angeles area during the Halloween season.

It doesn’t matter if it is an elaborate one like Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, one of the many walk-through mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm, or a neighborhood haunt, there is a lot to learn from these haunted houses.

Here are seven scary hints from Halloween Haunts to make the most out of your spooky video game levels:

  1. The three S’s.

While an amateur horror level designer might only concentrate on creating scares for their haunted level, there are actually three ways to engage a player: Story, Scares, and Spectacle. Use story to capture the player’s curiosity. A strong story will make the player want to see “what happens next” and continue their way through a level. Spectacle are those epic moments that will dazzle and impress the player, making the player say “That was amazing! I wonder what’s next?”

Scale often plays a big part in epic-ness. The bigger, the better! Scares actually slow down the player as they creep their way through a level, especially if they think a scare is coming. However, if you can engage your player with story or distract them with spectacle, they won’t see the scares coming!

  1.   Foreshadowing.

While many horror movies and games rely on jump scares and shocks, the best scares come when the player is actually expecting them. The horror game demo P.T. on the Playstation 4 might be the scariest game ever made, but it isn’t frightening just because the game looks and sounds scary.

It’s scary because the player knows they have to pass by that stupid bathroom door yet again and something horrible is going to happen when they do. The anticipation is what makes the game terrifying.

  1.   Sound is your ally.

Nothing unsettles a player like sound. Blowing wind, the creak of an old house, the scrape of a foot along the floor. Use sound effects to not only to set the mood and augment scares, but also to foreshadow them. Think of how sound is used in the Friday the 13th video game to announce the presence of the murderous Jason. Once the player associates a music cue or sound effect with an upcoming scare, watch them start to panic!

  1.   Use sense.

Players can’t use their sense of smell or touch when playing a video game. Horrific environments like filthy or blood-splattered rooms lose its impact if the player can’t smell or feel it. Limit these types of locations to maximize their impact, or at least have the player character react to them to help cue the player that this is a gross place to be.

  1.  Limit the field of view.

Players get nervous when they can’t see what’s ahead of them. Use darkness and dense fog to obscure players’ field of view. Or if you are inside, corners are a great way to hide what’s coming next. There might be something horrible lurking right around the corner…

  1.   Spread out your scares.

Fight the temptation to fill your level with wall-to-wall scares. The anticipation of a scare is much more frightening to a player. However, avoid predictability with your spacing.

For example, you might want to have a player move through two empty rooms before encountering a scare. Then switch it up to frighten them after three rooms, and then change it and frighten them in the next room. Your player will be expecting to get scared, but they will still be surprised when it happens.

Rhythm is the key to good scares. At the end of the level, you should ramp up your horror to a frightening conclusion; either let the player escape or lure them to their doom!

  1.   Scares come from diagonals.

Haunted house experts have revealed that a guest is more frightened when a scare comes from an angle rather than straight on. The reason? Evolution has honed a human’s peripheral vision to watch for danger that comes from behind and the sides of a person. When a danger “appears” from out of nowhere, the result is much more startling!

The best way to learn more from a Halloween Haunt is to experience one for yourself! If you can overcome your fear long enough to take note on how these fear-masters use psychology to maximize their scares, you too will be making scary levels like a pro!

Our Game Design students work on a variety of projects across digital game design, 3-D art, video game storytelling, and graphic design. Visit our Game Design Discipline page to learn about our game design programs, curriculums, and hands-on projects.

How To Pitch to Game Developers

Are you wondering how to pitch to game developers?

In 2009, twenty-nine year old Markus “Notch” Persson started work on RubyDung, a procedurally generated construction sim that was a mash-up of Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Keeper, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. By the time he had reached Alpha with his game, Notch had changed the game’s name to MineCraft and decided that he needed to monetize his efforts.

In June of 2009, he sold over 1,000 copies at 10.00 € apiece. As the game gained over 20,000 registered players, Notch was able to cut his day-job’s hours back and dedicate his time to finishing the game. By 2010, MineCraft had won game of the year, and Notch had quit his day job. By 2014, he sold his company to Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars.

But Notch’s story is an unusual one. Most game developers will have to pitch their game to someone – be it a publisher, a developer, or a crowdfunding audience – before it reaches market.

What is a pitch? A pitch is a presentation created by a game developer in order to obtain a publishing contract or financing. Pitches contain information about your game, how it plays, what it is about, what is special about it, what platform is it for, who is its audience, and more.

While there is no hard and fast rule to the format of your pitch presentation, (you can find a pitch presentation outline in my book Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design) there are several guidelines you can follow to make sure your pitch goes as smoothly as possible.

Set the tone from the beginning; you are entertaining, not just selling.

A pitch is an opportunity to make a publisher excited about your game. This means showing your game in the best possible light. Showcase whatever is most exciting about your game using images and examples. A little humor doesn’t hurt either. However, a pitch is not a talent show. Save extreme activities like singing, impersonations, and jokes for the talent show.

A powerpoint presentation is the most common method of pitching. However, be aware that your audience can lose interest quickly – never linger too long on one slide and never show a slide that only shows words. Have at least one compelling image per slide and make sure that image is related to whatever you are talking about. Use concept art, screenshots, or even inspirational images from other games. If an image looks good and gets your point across – show it!

How you present yourself is just as important as what you are presenting. Treat a pitch presentation as if it were a job interview. Dress nicely. Make eye contact while speaking. Speak clearly and not too fast. Be mindful of your body language – avoid crossing your arms and alternate who you are looking at as you give your presentation.

If public speaking isn’t your strongest trait, consider pitching with a partner. Recruit another member of your team to help you out with the pitch. Take turns describing the game, the story, the features, and gameplay. You’ll feel much more confident with a backup.

Know your USPs

USP stands for Unique Selling Propositions. These are the most unique and exciting features of your game. It’s what makes your game stand apart from all of the others. There should be three to five USPs in your pitch presentation. Even if your game has more, try to limit it down to no more than five or six – otherwise you start to “muddy the waters”.

USPs are the backbone of your marketing plan. If you need ideas to generate USPs, try looking at the back of a videogame box. USPs are almost always used to sell a game to a consumer. However, many amateur game developers don’t use the right USPs in their presentation.

Often “beautiful art” and “engaging storylines” are mentioned as USPs. Don’t use these. EVERY GAME should have beautiful art and an engaging storyline. Focus on what makes your game unique. Is it a novel control system? Is it a brand-new style of gameplay? Is it a powerful engine that can handle a lot of detail? Is a famous artist creating your characters? These are the type of USPs you will want to include in your presentation.

Know who you are pitching to

Everyone in the pitch meeting is there for a different reason. The head of production wants to know if your team has “what it takes” to make a game. The marketing director wants to know what the “X” and the “Y” of your game – what makes your game “X-citing” and “Y” should I care? The technologist wants to know how you are going to make your game. The project manager wants to know how much your game costs. The creative type wants to know what is cool about your game and how it will play.

Make sure your pitch addresses at least a little bit about all of these issues. When entering a pitch meeting, try to meet everyone at the table and find out a little bit about what they do, then cater your pitch accordingly. A good tip is to collect business cards and then lay them out on a table in relation to everyone in the room. That way, you can address everyone by name and have a reminder of what job position they hold.

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas

While you are presenting, don’t be afraid to go “off-script”, especially if someone in your audience asks questions. Questions will arise during your pitch and often they will be questions that you don’t know the answers to. Instead of making something up, it’s ok to say “I don’t know” or “we are still considering that” and move on.

Publishers know that things change over the course of a game’s production, so it’s ok to have a few issues that you haven’t addressed yet. That said, it’s always better to have firm answers than incomplete ones.

The pitch for BioShock changed radically after receiving feedback from publishers. If audience members start to offer ideas, it means that they are interested in your game. That’s a good thing! Make sure to write them down, as they will often be good suggestions. However, if someone offers an idea or suggestion that just doesn’t align with your game, don’t argue or tell the person that it is a bad idea – instead thank them for their idea and move past it. There’s no need to be rude or disrespectful during the pitch.

Be prepared for the worst

No matter how prepared you are for your pitch, problems can arise. When problems happen (and they will happen) try not to sweat it too hard. Try not to make excuses or downplay your game when it does. Instead, try your best to resolve the issue and continue with your pitch.

Technical issues will happen. I have experienced many pitches where the game didn’t work, the camera was broken, the controls were unstable, or the AI didn’t function properly. But that’s OK. You are pitching to people who experience technical issues in prototypes and games in development all of the time. If something doesn’t go right with your demo, just remind them that you are showing off a work-in-progress. Your audience will generally understand and be patient with you.

Try to resolve your technical issues quickly, but even if the situation is unsalvageable, don’t give up hope. The best pitch I ever experienced was for the game that became Evolve. The Turtle Rock team brought in their playable demo and of course, it didn’t work. Their Powerpoint presentation wouldn’t load. But they didn’t let that phase them and because they were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their game, they managed convince THQ’s management to sign the game!

Just remember to be prepared, be flexible, and remember to have fun. With some practice, you too will soon be pitching like a pro! Good luck with all your pitches!

How to Design Your Game to Tell a Story

You don’t need to be a gamer to recognize the incredible success of Fortnite: Battle Royale and Overwatch — two of the most popular games in recent years that also happen to be multiplayer-only. As these types of games continue raking in millions of players (and dollars), whispers of shrinking interest in story-driven experiences have spread throughout the industry.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]“Amazing gameplay can survive s*** storytelling, it’s true, but I believe it’s poorer for it. Great gameplay, infused with a strong narrative and story world, is the ideal.”[/su_pullquote]

But several single-player games like God of War and Detroit: Become Human continue to capture the hearts of modern gamers. This includes Red Dead Redemption II, an upcoming game surrounded by incredible hype for its promise of a thrilling Wild West tale. It’s clear that whether they make the most money or not, games that tell good stories are as desired and beloved as ever before, if not more.

Fantastic games like these don’t just happen. It takes tremendous effort from start to finish in order to marry good game design with memorable storytelling.

It all starts with a fun, promising design…

The debate of what comes first — story or gameplay — has been argued for years. Everyone has different preferences — some of us are drawn to games mostly for their strong narratives, while others deciding what adventure to invest hours into look to enticing mechanics. Both are integral when it comes to designing a game that tells an unforgettable story, but games are different compared to other forms of entertainment because they are based on a unique foundation — interactivity.

“The question the developers of the Legend of Zelda series asked themselves before starting a game was, ‘What kind of game play should we focus on?’ rather than ‘What kind of story should we write?'”

-Eiji Aonuma, series producer of Legend of Zelda

This core of gaming comes with the challenge of having to create characters, stories and worlds where players make decisions. Whether you’re developing a complex 3D action-RPG like The Witcher 3, or a simpler 2D adventure like Blossom Tales, it’s arguably better to begin by piecing together fun gameplay elements that you will add story to along the way. No matter how great your characters or dialogue are, or that amazing plot twist you know will blow people’s’ minds, it will take engaging gameplay to keep your average player going long enough to see your story through the end.

Link Zelda

…Followed by flexible, captivating narrative elements…

Games have proven themselves to be a powerful storytelling medium thanks to titles that not only provide enjoyable gameplay but also leave an emotional impact via compelling stories. One way to help your game hook players is by hammering out the key story elements early on: a cool central premise, strong characters that evolve, an interesting world, and stirring conflict.

Of course, games are unpredictable beasts that almost always change throughout development, thus the best stories are flexible ones. Certainly do your best to protect your vision, especially if it was your primary inspiration in the first place, but you also have to be willing to change (or entirely axe) precious ideas. Whether it’s a boring boss that needs to be reworked, or a crucial playable flashback that needs to be cut due to lack of time or resources, you’ll always be ready to come up with another good idea if you maintain an adaptable and creative state of mind.

“It’s the easiest thing to change, to some degree. You can be much more adaptive. You have a scene that’s already written and recorded and animated and then something needs to change. The easiest thing to change is something in the story.”

-Ken Levine, creative director of BioShock series (PC Gamer)

Game Controller

And finally, the two become one.

Not all game types and genres depend on storytelling in the same way. Role-playing games will normally have a bigger spotlight on narrative than, say, a racing simulator. But whether you believe story or gameplay is more important, there is a middle ground that most game developers will accept. In other words, a game whose creators worked hard to find harmony between mechanics and narrative is a game that players will not want to put down — and when they do, they’ll be talking about it.

“Amazing gameplay can survive s*** storytelling, it’s true, but I believe it’s poorer for it. Great gameplay, infused with a strong narrative and story world, is the ideal.”

-Rhianna Pratchett, award-winning video game writer (Gamespot)

Some developers make the mistake of tacking on story elements toward the end of the process. For them, narrative is an afterthought that’s eventually integrated, poorly, when the need for dialogue, cutscenes, etc. arrives.

Similarly, there are also many examples of games where the story was so important and untouchable that gameplay suffered for it. There’s a reason why many game development positions today require applicants to understand the intricacies of weaving story with gameplay: when done well, you design a game that people won’t soon forget.

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What Nintendo Can Teach Us About Game Design

By Scott Rogers – Instructor, New York Film Academy Game Design

Nintendo recently celebrated its 46th year of creating video games, and with the exception of a few growing pains, the Japanese company has been an industry leader since the 1980s. How has Nintendo lasted so long in a very competitive market?

One important key to their success is great game design. And great game design begins with great designers.

The Entertainment Analysis and Development (EAD) is the team that creates Nintendo’s great game design. The team is staffed by “planners” — a position which combines game design with a secondary discipline such as programming or art. It is Nintendo’s belief that all game designers should possess a variety of skills, not just in game design.

When the New York Times asked “what kind of person would Nintendo hire,” EAD leader and legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto replied, “I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans. I make it a point to ensure they’re not a gamer, but they have a lot of different interests and skill sets.”

Miyamoto knows this from experience. It was his skill in art and love of classic cartoons that led to Nintendo’s first hit video game: Donkey Kong.

Nintendo’s design philosophy is simple; start with a unique idea, concentrate on the “primary action,” go for an emotional experience, teach as you play, and repeat what works.

Start with a unique idea.

During the ‘90s, Nintendo was engaged in a battle with Sony PlayStation. Sony was producing games with expensive pre-rendered cut-scenes that felt like movies.

When Miyamoto was asked if Nintendo should follow suit, his answer was “No.” Instead, he created Pikmin; a real-time puzzle game about a miniature astronaut who recruits an army of aliens to help him fix his spaceship. It was unlike all of the other fighters, shooters, and platformers on the other game consoles of the time. Pikmin was a huge success on the GameCube because of its unique concept.

Concentrate on the “primary action.”

Before he was named Mario, the hero of Donkey Kong was called “Jumpman.” It’s pretty much all Mario does in the game, and as the games evolved his jump became more expressive and flexible. In the classic Super Mario Bros., the jump became an essential part of the design. He can only defeat enemies by jumping, can only break blocks by jumping, and can only finish a level by jumping.

Jumping in the Mario games is what is known as the “primary action” of the game. The “primary action” is the player action from which the rest of the gameplay flows. If a hazard, enemy, or obstacle can’t be overcome by jumping, it doesn’t belong in this game.

Repeat what works.

The classic Super Mario Bros. level 1-1 only uses nine gameplay elements: Treasure Blocks, Breakable Blocks, Goomba, Pits, Pipes, Platforms, Mushroom, Coins, and Piranha Plant. By combing and repeating these elements in a variety of configurations, Miyamoto creates the greatest level in gaming history. These mechanics are so successful that they are used to this day in the most recent Mario games, where they form the foundation of the vocabulary of gameplay.

The lesson is simple. Use a limited amount of gameplay elements and see how many times you can combine them. You will be surprised by the amount of gameplay even a few elements will create.

Go for an emotional experience.

“When I create a game,” said Shigeru Miyamoto, “I try to focus more on the emotions that the player experiences during the game play.”

Whether it is the wonder found in epic vistas like in the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, fear of the unknown as in Luigi’s Mansion or the pleasure of discovery experienced in Pokemon, all of the Nintendo games strive to capture a core emotion within the player.

Ask yourself, “What emotion do I want the player to experience?” Then, drive rive all design decisions towards achieving that emotion. If you need some help, just recall your favorite games or movies and the emotions they aroused in you.

Teach as you play.

Even back in the day when video games had manuals, players often didn’t read them. Players preferred to learn the game as they played. Nintendo was well aware of this fact and strived to create games that taught as they played.

Miyamoto has often said about World 1-1, “within that one section … the player would understand the concept of what Mario was supposed to be and what the game was about.”

Each new mechanic, hazard, and enemy is introduced in isolation, which allows the player to recognize it and understand its behavior. As the game progresses, new mechanics are introduced along with the opportunity to learn how it operates and combines with the rest of the gameplay.

By repeating this design system of “introduction-combine,” the players won’t need to stop playing the game in order to understand how all the elements come together.

While you might not design a blockbuster hit like Nintendo with your first game, using their design principles will give you some great tools that you can use for the rest of your game design career.

Learn the fundamentals of video game design, artwork, and storytelling with our variety of hands-on, intensive game design programs. Visit our Game Design Discipline page to find a program that suits your interests and schedule.

5 Things Old School Games Mastered

Today’s video games offer some of the most captivating worlds and stories one can experience. From incredibly realistic environments to impressive artificial intelligence, games have evolved at a faster rate than perhaps any other entertainment medium.

It’s hard to believe that, a little over two decades ago, the gaming industry was just transitioning from 2D to 3D. Of course, games couldn’t have gotten to where they are today without the old-school classics and the innovations they contributed to the field, still used by game designers today.

Here are five notable contributions the retro games mastered, that made lifelong gamers out of us:

Rewarding Skill

Game development was a different beast back in the ‘80s and ‘90s; teams didn’t have millions of dollars and years of development. Instead, you were required to create a game — sometimes in less than a year — that would convince people to drop their hard-earned cash. This meant crafting worlds and gameplay that was not only captivating but also challenging. Otherwise, gamers would fly through in a few hours and want their money back.

Thus, many retro games are masterpieces when it comes to providing a satisfying level of difficulty that, rather than frustrating players, made them want to get better. Instead of having to get through thoughtless quick-time events, players were pushed to memorize enemy spawn locations, boss patterns, and power-up locations, increasing their skill through gameplay to unlock rewards and advance.

Providing Unique Experiences

There’s a reason why many of the most popular gaming franchises today got their start back in the “golden age” of video games; although there have always been copycats and clones, developers making old school games had comparably less time and money riding on one project, which meant they could take more risks. Those risks led to lots of creativity, with games within the same genre full of variety. For example, if you wanted a change from your favorite beat-’em-up, you had everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Golden Axe to Battletoads and Streets of Rage 2.

In contrast, you can take several of today’s first-person shooters and find that they look remarkably similar. If you don’t agree, consider how every developer is at the moment scrambling to cash in on the very popular “battle royale” style game after the success of Fortnite.

Immediate Attraction

Game developers were limited in a number of ways in the ‘80s and ‘90s, compared to today’s studios. Visuals, of course, could only handle so many pixels, as devs also had to create fun experiences with controllers and arcade machines with far fewer buttons. Because of this, old-school games feel like compact, thrilling bursts of fun that you can pick up and play without the need for tutorials or getting used to complicated control schemes, etc.

Even a complete gaming novice can pick up an NES controller, boot up Mega Man and have a great time. Compare that experience to Assassin’s Creed, where novice players must familiarize themselves with lengthy story scenes and tutorial segments before they can get to the meat of the gameplay.

Old-school games also didn’t require signing into an account or having an online connection to play — just another way these games remain accessible and simple to enjoy, no matter your level of expertise.

Offering Fun With Friends

On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that many of the multiplayer games we enjoy now let us do things we could only dream of in our wildest imagination, back in the day. Fortnite, for example, lets you play against a whopping 99 other players in a world where you can destroy almost everything in the environment — all while building massive towers and bridges. The only downside is that if you want to play on the couch with a friend, they’ll need to bring their own TV screen and console; like most modern big-budget titles, there’s no local multiplayer.

Before the advent of high-speed internet, devs were almost obligated to make fun games that friends could play together. Arcade cabinets were surrounded by teens watching players duke it out in Mortal Kombat or unite to tear a city apart in Rampage.

As most of today’s developers realize the ever-existent hunger for couch co-op games, we can’t help but recall the hours of enjoyment old-school games gave us alongside friends and family.

You Could Play ASAP!

Remember when you could play a game without having to wait for console boot-up times, long loading screens, or new patch updates to download? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Learn more about Game Design at the New York Film Academy.

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