Prisonier

Why am I doing this?

Over the past few months, I have learned game design; well I should say I have attempted to learn game design.  I was having trouble finding resources I can use.  I asked multiple people for good resources and I always got “play more games, that’s the best way to learn.”  I have steadily played more and more games over the past 6 months, and it has helped me learn, but I learn best by supplementing my practical experience with book knowledge.  Now, I’m on a quest to find topics and resources that help me learn how to design and make good games.  Over time, I’ll add in a master list of resources that will include ratings based on what I got out of learning the topic.

I got the idea from a fellow game designer, Bryan at Lion Root Entertainment.  He wrote many times about what he read and learned.  He keeps a list of all the books and even ranks them based upon how often he should revisit them.  I reached out to him to ask him a few questions and he was super nice.  He shared his lists and methods, and gave me some resources I could use in the future.  So here’s to you Bryan, may you find happiness and success in your endeavors, and know that you’re an inspiration to others.

There is a 1 in 6 chance I will roll a 1 on a 6 sided die

I spent a lot of December 2015 learning about probability.  I’d probably say it was worth it.  Haha, see what I did there?  If you can’t make a good pun, then make a bad one, they’re just as groan-worthy.  🙂  I happily searched around for good starter topics on probability – see I’m one of those strange people who enjoy math (don’t even get me started on prime numbers).  I found a few blogs that covered the basics, Probability for Game Designers {{link to article 1}} and Level 4: Probability and Randomness {{link to article 2}}.  If you need a little refresher, I’d definitely start there.  I needed more on the topic as the most I know is that I have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 1 on a six-sided die.  I searched around some more and found Understanding Probability – now that’s a book title with promise.  I started reading it and by the third chapter, I had to give up.  As I said I like math but I’m not a mathematician and don’t practice it above a hobby level.  I swear the book was written by a mathematician for other mathematicians.  I tried a few other books but I abandoned them even faster than this one – in fact, I stopped reading so quickly I didn’t even write down the title.  Of course, in retrospect I should always write down the title so I can remember where not to look in the future.

After I tried those three books, I started becoming leery of looking for more, especially when I stumbled upon one with a title of Master Math: Probability.  I thought, “oh great, another one of these.”  I decided to press on and try it, after all, I really wanted to figure out what the chances of rolling a pair on 3d6 (turns out it’s 44.4%).  See we’re building a game that uses dice to resolve challenges between players and the environment.  I want to classify the probability of each challenge so I know how easy/hard it is for the player to overcome.  I started reading skimming the book to see if I could learn what I wanted.  I was pleasantly surprised when the book was straightforward *and* approachable.  I didn’t need a degree in Mathematics to get past chapter 2; in fact, the author explains the math so the reader can keep up with the topic.  Even better, there was a summary and practice problems at the end of every chapter.  I got through chapter 5 before cookies distracted me.  This is definitely going on my recommended reading list, and something I will continue to read and practice until I truly learn it.

Designing Dungeons Is More than Rectangles on a Page

We are developing a project called Fantastical Journeys.  We are launching a Patreon by the end of the month for Fantastical Journeys, so look for more details on that in the coming weeks.  Fantastical Journeys is all about the people, places, and things you experience when you go to a new place.  We just happen to be building a new world filled with lots and lots of fantastical people, places, and things.  What a happy coincidence.  😉  ChefSuki is working on the people and they will be the first topic we cover.  I am developing the places.  When I played D&D in the past I had a great time creating dungeons, so my first thought was, “I’ll draw some rectangles on the page and connect them, how hard can it be?”  LOL I astonish myself sometimes.  I looked around at the current state of dungeon maps and it hit me like a cave-in, creating maps for a personal D&D campaign with friends is vastly different from creating campaign maps for a professional quality setting that we eventually want to sell.  Well I guess this means I add a new topic to the list, drawing places for an RPG setting, and I’m starting with dungeons.  I already own Dungeon Designer 3 from ProFantasy and used the product extensively in the past (read 10 or 15 years ago).  I haven’t done as much searching on this topic as I did for probabilities, but I did find a good set of YouTube videos from Joe Sweeney entitled Create stunning dungeon maps for D&D Pathfinder.

To next month and beyond!

Well that about covers it for December.  Next month I expect to continue learning about probabilities, map making, and game design.  The next What I Learned post is scheduled for the first Thursday in February.

Biblio

Articles

  1. Probability for Game Designers, by James Ernest, League of Game Makers, on 1 August 2014
  2. Level 4: Probability and Randomness, by Tyler Sigman, Game Balance Concepts, on 28 July 2010.

Books

  1. Understanding Probability, Third Edition, by Henk Tijms, Cambridge University Press, on 23 July 2012, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles
  2. Master Math: Probability, by Catherine A. Gorini, Cengage Learning PTR, on 3 March 2011, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles

Videos

  1. Tutorial 1a: Dungeon Mapping with Dungeon Designer – Basics, by Joe Sweeney, YouTube, 4 November 2008
  2. Tutorial 1b: Dungeon Mapping with Dungeon Designer, by Joe Sweeney, YouTube 4 November 2008

NOTE:  The reference picture and the first picture of the post is sourced from WikiMedia Commons from the author Thenextvoice, who has shared the file under CC ASA 3.0 Unported.  The image has not been modified.

What I Learned in December 2015
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