Mark Damon Hughes Game Design [Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics] [about]

] Index |  ] Articles |  ] Links

"You can, from my impressions at least, get a job in the games industry knowing nothing about games coding but having memorized the windows API instead, and, fuck me, does that show in the current output of games."
-Keith M. Lucas (

`Most players don't yell, "Oh boy! I get to do that all over again! What a great challenging game! I could go out to dinner or see a movie with my family tonight but I get to stay home instead and play this level over and over again until I can save it! If I lose all my lives before I can save my game I'll have to finish this level plus the three others before it, this is great fun! The game designer has turned me into his trained monkey, whee! Thank you, oh god of programming! Please punish me some more! Maybe next time instead of making a game, you could just beat me with a porcupine!"`
-Duane Alan Hahn


My Computer Games

] GameScroll
GameScroll is a system for playing and writing interactive fiction like Choose Your Own Adventure(TM) or Fighting Fantasy(TM) gamebooks.
] Hephaestus
Hephaestus is a freeware computer role-playing game system with loadable adventures; you can write your own adventures in Java, and share them with anyone else who has Hephaestus.
Hephaestus is written entirely in Java, and therefore runs on every platform.
] Umbra
Umbra is a computer role-playing game written in Python. The world is randomly-generated for new play every time, but there is an eventual goal and storyline. It was heavily influenced by roguelike games, Alternate Reality, console RPGs, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.
] Halon Escape
The game of techies gasping and dying in mazes of cubicles!
] Delver
Delver is my open-source single-player overhead-view tile-based computer RPG construction kit written in Java.

My Pencil & Paper Games

] Phobos
A Roleplaying Game of the Wonders and Terrors of Technology and Magic
] G.P.A.
A black comedy survival RPG set in a university campus on the edge of reality.
My one-stat RPG.


   This page mostly covers computer game design and development, but much of it also applies to pencil-and-paper RPGs, board games, and miniatures games. Designing for digital or analog games can be a very similar process, and even much of the gameplay can be the same across them.

   This page is here for a number of reasons:

  1. I believe that game design is a neglected part of game development, as can be seen in all the pages devoted to game programming but so very few to design and gameplay.
  2. I believe that normal people (anyone except the hardcore 14-35-year-old male gamer audience) really don't care much about flashy graphics, as long as there's enough there to represent the environment and suspend disbelief. What they *DO* care about is gameplay. I offer up Tetris, Nethack, MUDs, Myst, Doom, and Parappa the Rapper as proof of this - Tetris, Nethack, and MUDs are addictive even in minimalistic or nonexistent graphics. Myst is pretty, but IMO people keep playing it to solve the puzzles and find out what's happening. Doom is just a fun way to kill your friends or take out your aggressions on sprites - the graphics are eye-catching but incidental. Parappa is bizarre, new, fun, and interesting to the public, despite really cheezy graphics.
  3. I believe that single-platform game development is obsolete for all but the most CPU-intensive programs. People want to play games in whatever system they already have, nobody who knows any other OS really wants to run Microsoft's software. My solution to this is Java or Python.

   If you have any comments or additions, or want me to add a comment of your own to something, let me know, and I'll consider it - I'm not just an automated adding form, and I won't add comments I think are bullshit, but I'm genuinely interested.

   Claimer: if you've produced a crappy game with zero gameplay but instead spent all of your time on tweaking that 3-D engine to the last cycle, then you and your game offend me, and what I have to say will probably offend you. Get over it or go away, I don't have time to argue with you about it.

Feedback  | Key: ] =local file, * =off-site link  | Copyright © 2003-2010 by Mark Damon Hughes | Subscribe with RSS 2.0