Review: Restraining Order

March 3, 2010
Restraining Order

Restraining Order

Here’s a game I’ve been meaning to write about for a while:
Restraining Order by Bigpants Games

Restraining Order has been out for a while now, though I was lucky enough to get to see it mid-production thanks to the perennially awesome Jim McGinley. It didn’t change a lot from when I saw it first to when I thoroughly replayed it again recently, but that seems to be mostly due to the accuracy of it’s vision.

Read the rest of this entry »


Marshall McLuhan and Suspension of Disbelief

February 10, 2010
Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan... disbelieving?

There’s a number of things that have lead to this particular topic today. I have a slew of games I’d like to discuss, but I haven’t had a chance to give any of them the in-depth look they need (this includes a hilarious gem from Jim McGinley that I promise I’ll get to soon).

However, recently I found myself explaining to a friend one of the most abstract quotes from Marshall McLuhan, one of the greatest minds on media. Simultaneously, elsewhere on the web, I’ve been explaining to someone the major issues with nonsensical mechanics in RPGs. And more recently, I was speaking to a class about how the art elements and mechanic elements of games are separate in design, yet inseparable in experience.

The McLuhan quote in specific was, “A tactile medium in the context of a visual notion of causality“, which is a very complicated way of saying “The experience of physical things is distinctly different than the experience of a record of physical things”. His more famous, and more digestible, statement of this idea was “The medium is the message“. Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Post: Revival!

January 31, 2010

Greetings to the readers!

Regulars to The Art of Game might have, well, become bored with the static content over the last while during the unannounced (and admittedly, unintended) hiatus. Between a number of great new projects and opportunities, my little game design blog got lost in the dust stirred in all that chaos.

I have a number of things I’d like to write on, and a number of maintenance items to do around here, but if you’re looking for signs of life — here they are! Regular posting is planned to resume shortly! (Hurray!)

And specifically, to the regulars, thanks for sticking with us; to those just stumbling on here, stay a while!

Quick Post: Procedural Generation Misconception

September 9, 2009

I was up a little early this morning, reading some new entries over at the IndieGames Blog (specifically “Freeware Game Pick: Trapdoor Below (Telchar)“) when I saw a line that surprised me quite a bit. In describing this roguelike, the following was written: “…and the usual random dungeon generator that ensures every new adventure plays differently from the last.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Whoa! That’s not it at all! Now, I know I’m playing semantics here, but I’ve got a gut feeling that a lot of people don’t quite realize how contrary this statement is, and that might prevent you from appreciating the importance of procedural generation. Read the rest of this entry »

Mirror’s Edge: Successes and Failures

September 3, 2009
Kicking Face in Mirrors Edge

Kicking Face in Mirror's Edge

I recently had the opportunity to play though Mirror’s Edge for the first time — it’s a game I’d had my eye on for a while. After playing it to the end and playing around with it a little, I had mixed feelings of the whole product. Rather than review the game, however, I’d rather just go over what I felt really worked and really didn’t.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Mirror’s Edge is a First Person Action game that is based heavily across the ideas of Parkour. Players control Faith, a ‘runner’ (someone who transports items under the radar of the Big-Brother society in the game) who ends up in the midst of a murder-conspiracy which is fingering her sister Kate. Players use Faith’s skills of martial arts and parkour to try and uncover the truth and save Kate. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeking Collaborators!

August 21, 2009

SignpostDanceHello readers!

I’m pleased to say that The Art of Game has been doing pretty well since I began writing it a few months ago, and I’m slowly approaching 100 posts; an exciting, arbitrary milestone. I hope in this time that people have been enjoying my writings and insights. On that note, I have two requests I thought I’d throw out in to the public.

First: I’m curious as to what you all think about the blog on the whole. What do you guys like or dislike? What would you like to see more or less of? Do you think I’m a crackpot, or am I on the money? I’d love to know what YOU think!

Second: Game ideas are second nature to me, and I’d like to make more of those ideas in to products. I’m not exactly a talented programmer, however, and I’d love to work with some people who are. Are you interested in helping to produce a game, but find yourself short of ideas or direction? Do you have an existing project that you’d like my critique on? Then let’s work together!

Feel free to drop your responses in to the comments. If you want a more private conversation, feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Many Endings

August 21, 2009

As readers of this blog are sure to know, one of the things I value most in games is choice. In most games, however, there’s only one way to finish a game. Even take games with multiple endings, like BioShock or the historical Chrono Trigger — both have multiple endings, but both require you to accomplish the same task to get there. While Chrono Trigger lets you reach this ending point in several different ways, there isn’t any ending that doesn’t involve defeating Lavos, the game’s end boss.

So, here’s something to consider. Why not have multiple game-ending scenarios? While Chrono Trigger has multiple endings, it only has the one game ending scenario — defeat Lavos. But what if there were others, like evacuate the planet, or prevent his arrival, or somehow peacefully resolve the Lavos problem? Read the rest of this entry »

Queens, a cool approach to dying

August 19, 2009


So, a little while back I came across an awesome little indie flash game called Queens, from noonat, made for one of the Ludum Dare competitions. It’s a short, stylish platformer that revolves around a king who tests his wife by putting her inside a crazy little dungeon — if she dies, he can replace her. Read the rest of this entry »

The Games of ToJam 4: Part 8

August 18, 2009
Nothing is insignificant in Scale

Nothing is insignificant in Scale

At long last but not least by any stretch, we’ve got Flip the Beach, Lockpick, Swine Flu Apocalypse, and the winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best Use of Theme, SCALE.

If you’re just joining us on these reviews, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7! Read the rest of this entry »

The Games of TOJam 4: Part 7

August 6, 2009
Sail in icy waters in da Boat!

Sail in icy waters in da Boat!

Huzzah! The remainder of the TOJam 4 games have been released, the last 9. Admittedly, I’ve been a little slow of the draw to post my reviews, but here we go anyhow.

Finally, we’ve got Bob the Blob, da Boat, Flip the Beach, Lockpick, Multiplayer Line Defense, Spirit Guide, Swine Flu Apocalypse, TEXMEX and the winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best Use of Theme, SCALE.

If you’re just joining us on these reviews, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6!

Today I’ll be reviewing Bob the Blob, da Boat, Multiplayer Line Defense, Spirit Guide, and TEXMEX. Read the rest of this entry »