Andrew Looney Lecture at GDN-SCAD

A few weeks ago the Game Developers Network at SCAD had Andrew Looney give a lecture on designing games. The lecture consisted of how he designs games, what it takes to design games, and some advice on where else to go for information on designing games.


Andrew Looney compares making a game to making a soup. All sorts of ingredients go into it and the best soups are ones where you constantly test it see what else it needs.
* Along with testing the full game, you can also test “ingredients” or portions/mechanics of the game to see if they work alone

Whenever you can cut something out, do it
* Rules that are not needed
o Optimizing the rules instead of completely cutting helps too

Is your game Mechanic Driven or Theme Driven?
Mechanic driven example: Black Ice
Theme Driven example: Chrononauts

Thinking like a programmer is extremely useful
* If you haven’t programmed before, try it
* When making a rule sheet, think like a programmer

Make a prototype!
* Write down rules, even as you prototype it. This forces you to fully explain how the game works.
* Trial by Rule Sheet: Make someone play without you helping. This tests the game as well as the rule sheet. Testing both is key to making a great game because you won’t always be there to tell someone they’re playing your game wrong.
* Playtest! Playtest! Playtest!
* Use placeholder art to save time
o Don’t let prototypes with placeholder art leave the office if you don’t own the rights to that artwork.
o Make sure to remove placeholder art before selling, especially if you don’t own the rights to the artwork.
* When you have fixed and improved everything you can, don’t forget to build the final prototype with art that you or your company has made. Don’t use placeholder art for your final prototype!

Get feedback!

* Make sure you can take criticism well
* Honest feedback is hard to find, so when you find it, make sure you use it.
* The best feedback gives you better ideas.
* Get lots of different people to play it and replay it
* Make sure you get old and new groups of people to playtest each versions of your game after you have applied previous feedback to fixing and improving it.

Keep an inventors diary with dates

* Write down every idea you have
* Draw diagrams and roughs of game ideas you have
* It’s not only helpful when you can’t think of an idea later in life, but it also gives your case some credibility if you are filing for a patent

A good game makes everyone feel like they could win right up to the end

Patent your game!
Go to Nolo press for IP patenting information.


The Game Inventor’s Guidebook by Brian Tinsman
The Game Inventor’s Handbook by Stephen Peek

Update March 31st 2011:
Andrew Looney has posted some information about the talk from his perspective and even the handout he gave us.