Rare Game Mechanics
PAX Unplugged 2021
Some game mechanics are common. Drafting cards. Rolling dice. Choosing actions. Worker placement. They are used in many games for a variety of reasons. But what about the weird ones? Ever play a game with a Rondel? Experience the glory of a 'Promise Cube?' Wait until we talk about what can only be described as 'Bohnanza Hand!' Join the GeekNights crew for a deep exploration of the rarely used (sometimes for a reason) mechanics of tabletop games.
Atari Game Design
PAX East Online 2021
Game design is a wide subject. The best approach to mastering it is to focus on the fundamentals, and what better place to do that than with Atari 2600 games? Join us for a deep game design analysis of classic competitive Atari games like Outlaw, and how their core concepts extend to modern games. When you can literally count the pixels with your eyes, and the code will fit in your calculator, the core principles of good (and bad) design become starkly apparent.
Where is the Finish Line?
PAX Online 2020
All games must end. This is especially important for competitive games. A single-player game ends when you decide to stop playing. But a competitive game ends when someone wins. Or does it? Turns out a lot of competitive games are over before they’re over. A good game can be ruined by ending too soon or too late. Too late, and you have players who have already lost trapped with nothing meaningful to do. Too soon, and you didn’t even “get to the good part.”
If you’re designing a game, how can you determine the best time for the game to end? The conditions that make it happen? Join GeekNights for a thorough examination of the common types of game ending conditions and exploration of a process to determine which one is best for your game.
Take your #@*$ Turn!
PAX Unplugged 2019
We’ve all played the "30-60 minute" board game that seems to always take exactly four hours. Your definition of "a quick game" always seems to be far from what your friends think. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Join us for a lively discussion of what factors, from game design decisions to players’ interactions, cause games to take too long. We’ll then teach you, in detail, how to take your #@*$ turn!
The 40 Games You Must Play
PAX West 2019
These may not be the top 40 games ever designed, nor are they the top 40 influential or otherwise important games. If you aspire to really understand games, or if you have visions of designing your own, these are 40 games that, if you play them, will give you the widest possible perspective on what it means to make a good game (and what "good" even means).
The Real Harm of Games
PAX East 2019
In the 80s, we were told Dungeons & Dragons would make us all satanists. In the 90s, first person shooters and Mortal Kombat were supposed to make us all murderers. Games have joined the long and storied history of books, music, movies, and television being primed to destroy us all. Thankfully, most of the fears around how games might harm us have proven false, misleading, or downright ridiculous. So what’s left? Lootboxes? What is the REAL harm of games? And what can we do about it?
Nostalgia vs Game Design
PAX South 2019
Everyone has the game that consumed their childhood. You grew up playing Quake 2 mods, Civ II, or Everquest late into the night. You got obsessed with Aerobiz on the SNES or DotA (the original one). You want to recreate that experience that was so core to your gaming life. But… can you? What was it ABOUT those games that made them so perfect. Was it the game, the context, or possibly even just you? From remakes to reboots to spiritual successors, some game mechanics are best left to history.