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Bart Stewart's Blog


Avid game design theorist; experienced programmer and software project manager; first (noncommercial) game developed was a real-time multiplayer space combat sim for IBM mainframes in 1985. Gaming-related interests include "deep" gameplay, Explorer/Simulationist gameplay, psychology of gamers, player-centered design, massively multiplayer game design, and industry trends. Personal game design blog at:


Member Blogs

Posted by Bart Stewart on Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:33:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
A month before its release, Watch Dogs is being described as having a highly dynamic world conducive to thoughtful exploration, but also as having simplified mechanics better suited to exciting action. Which impression is more accurate? Both? Neither?

Posted by Bart Stewart on Tue, 17 Jan 2012 01:41:00 EST in Design
In which we consider how the careful selection of gameplay elements can burn a game into our hearts and minds.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Sat, 20 Aug 2011 01:13:00 EDT in Design
Game developers often try to find and remove all unexpected interactions in the belief that anything not intended is likely to be a bug. But this may be unnecessarily preventing the development of games in which surprise is a necessary feature.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Fri, 23 Jul 2010 05:51:00 EDT in Design
Since Warren Spector demonstrated Epic Mickey at E3 2010, there's been a microburst of gaming media coverage of his design philosophy that "play style matters." It's about time.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Sat, 13 Mar 2010 03:41:00 EST in Design
At GDC 2010, Blizzard EVP of Game Design Rob Pardo described a number of design concepts behind Blizzard's games. While these are obviously successful for Blizzard's games, they can be seen as working only for simple action games. There are other kinds.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Mon, 01 Mar 2010 06:11:00 EST in Design
The online reaction to Jesse Schell's DICE 2010 presentation can be understood as a reaction to computer gaming becoming a mass entertainment form. Where early gamers enjoyed intangible immersion, today's typical gamer now expects tangible rewards.

Bart Stewart's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 09/13/2014 - 05:37]

Another option might be to ...

Another option might be to filter memories by personality type. In other words, design NPCs to be good at remembering the kinds of information that are closely related to their particular personality-driven interests, but much less good at remembering other kinds of information. r n r nFor example, an outgoing, ...

Comment In: [News - 09/15/2014 - 06:28]

Definitely a win for The ...

Definitely a win for The Long Dark team. r n r nI 'm increasingly fascinated by the recent spate of what are billed as survival/exploration games. They 're interesting design challenges because those two goals oppose each other with respect to risk. r n r nMechanics that favor exploring the ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/28/2014 - 07:57]

While I wouldn 't say ...

While I wouldn 't say it in the same way, I agree with the overall motivation of this article. As the Marines say, Silence implies consent, and no one should consent to jerks treating other people badly, in games or anywhere else. r n r nThe reason I 'm commenting ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/25/2014 - 05:09]

A game designer has two ...

A game designer has two options. You can keep your core game idea to yourself and expose it only when the game is released. You 'll then have to explain that you came up with it independently from previous similar games. Note that the smaller the game, the harder it ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/18/2014 - 05:50]

My impression is that you ...

My impression is that you 're using MDA to its full advantage. r n r nIt 's possible to make a fun game focusing on just one of those levels. But a really absorbing game hits on all of them. When all the levels at which a game can be ...

Comment In: [News - 08/22/2014 - 01:33]

Social justice has nothing to ...

Social justice has nothing to do with this. Any developer, regardless of where they fall on a spectrum of sociopolitical beliefs, and regardless of whether they express their personal beliefs publicly or not, is a potential target for this kind of malice.