Sanderson’s Laws of Magic and the design of Breath of the Wild

Today’s article is a little bit different.  While I usually dissect a specific game, today I’m going to take a look at a theory that can help explain how games can be deep and engaging for players.  This article is also a bit different because it’s theory does not come from the field of game…

Dissecting a Mechanic

Last week I played in my first Magic: The Gathering prerelease in close to a year. I was attracted to the theme of the set “Ixalan” which includes Merfolk and Vampires along with Pirates and Dinosaurs. For those who don’t know, Magic: The Gathering also known as just “Magic” is a collectible card game that…

A Quick Look at Drag’N’Boom

I found Drag’N’Boom recently  while I was browsing TouchArcade for new and upcoming titles.  The game is a delightful little game similar to Tiny Wings where you are a small dragon flying through platformer levels, collecting coins and defeating enemies. The Game I was interested in the title because in the preview the interface seemed…

Narrative, Fun, and my complicated relationship with Tumbleseed

“Is it fun?” my podcast co-host asks me via slack about my recent purchase of Tumbleseed. The short answer is “no”, the medium answer is “Yes, definitely” and the long answer is “maybe?”.  I’m going to try to unpack them all here.  Ultimately I understand why the game “flopped” but I still believe it does…

Alto’s Journey, Infinite Runners, and Free to Play

The prevailing argument when free to play first came out was that it created an egalitarian player decision to continue playing and purchasing the game at every point during the game, instead of the previous dynamic which was *massive marketing blitz* to try to get you to spend $60 up front and then experience the…

“Air Grievances” Retro #1

Full disclosure before I write this article: I don’t believe I’m done with the game by any means, so calling this a retro isn’t completely accurate. Doing this is tantamount to explaining just how bad a game designer I am and is ultimately rather difficult to do. 3 months ago I took a break working…

Sports v. Games (part 1): When a sport is not a game

The basis of this article was inspired by comparative reviews of competitive games like Magic, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and League of Legends along with articles from Polygon like Competition will drive success of Nintendo Switch more than Zelda or Mario, along with reviews from noted designers like David Sirlin on the importance of…

Randomness in Card Games (Magic + Hearthstone)

The inspiration I had for this article was comparing and contrasting early format reviews from content creators in both game. One of the other interesting points I noted (though ultimately backed away from) was that recently Magic had the tendency to be “solved” much more quickly.  High powered cards would come out that would create…

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a board game based on the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Waterdeep is the mythical town, known as the staring place for adventurers to go on their quests. Players can play the iOS game asynchronously against online opponents, locally (via pass and play), or against AI. But why review the iOS…

Guild of Dungeoneering 

Guild of Dungeoneering feels to me like the Pokemon RPG, honing the battle mechanic to a sharp point. For reference, in the Pokemon RPG, you collect Pokemon with different moves (along with strengths and weaknesses) that you use to battle opponents and progress in the game. In Dungeoneering, you build a guild hall which attracts…

Mini Metro

I’ve been waiting over 3 years for this game to come to iOS, I kid you not. To understand why, you might want some backstory. So it was my senior year of college and I was spending my final term abroad in Italy. We had just spent the day in Perugia, an old town known…