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Lewis Pulsipher's Blog   Expert Blogs


Dr. Lew Pulsipher started playing boardgames more than 50 years ago. He designed his own games, then discovered strategic "realistic" gaming with early Avalon Hill wargames, and ultimately earned a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history. His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish” was published in July 2012 by McFarland. He contributed to ETC Press' Analog: Tabltop Game Design.  Formerly contributing editor to several role-playing game magazines and author of over a hundred game magazine articles, he is designer of Britannia (UK, US, and Germany in separate editions), Dragon Rage, Valley of the Four Winds, Swords and Wizardry, and Diplomacy Games & Variants. Britannia (2nd edition) appeared in 2006, with foreign editions (German, French, Spanish, Hungarian) in 2008. It was described in an Armchair General review of a 2006 edition as "ready to continue on as one of the great titles in the world of games".

Latest published game, Dragon Rage, 2011.  Forthcoming very soon, Sea Kings, after successful Kickstarter.

Latest published book, Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish, 2012.

Online audiovisual courses at

  • Learning Game Design
  • Brief Introduction to Game Design
  • How to Design Levels/Adventures for Video and Tabletop Games
  • Get a Job in the Video Game Industry
  • How to Write Clear Rules (and game design documents)
  • The Joys of Game Design (hobbiest game design)

Current projects are at PulsipherGames.Com.

YouTube "Game Design" channel:

Game design blog:



Expert Blogs

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 04 May 2015 01:51:00 EDT in Design
Look at the history of games (both video and tabletop) and you'll realize that "great innovations" games are very rare. Moreover, it's unlikely that the designers were deliberately looking for "great innovation," it just happened. Just make good games.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:22:00 EDT in Design
The big difference in game design is between games with human opposition, and games without – two or more players versus one player. I briefly discuss the difference between games, puzzles, and "contests".

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 30 Mar 2015 01:30:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Modern gamers often mean "variety" (breadth) when they say "depth;" in fact gameplay depth is disappearing from games in general, led by "games" that you cannot lose (puzzles, many single-player video games).

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:48:00 EDT in Design
What makes for a good game? In this two-part screencast I discuss elements that help make any game for hobbiests ( as opposed to a party or family game) a good game. It's a summary, not grondbreaking, of course.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 03:41:00 EST in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Smartphone/Tablet
While we usually think of boards in conjunction with boardgames, many video games also use the equivalent of boards, "fields of maneuver". This is a discussion of options.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 12 Jan 2015 07:09:00 EST in Design
This is primarily for beginners, not for experienced pros. There are many ways to start learning game design (which is different from game production). You can pursue more than one route simultaneously, even all seven at once.

Lewis Pulsipher's Comments

Comment In: [News - 05/18/2015 - 04:07]

1. The word educational has ...

1. The word educational has bad connotations in the USA though not in Germany . Educational equals work, dull work at that. Educational game is an oxymoron, to most people. r n r n2. Perhaps this is generational. Hard to know. r n r n3. Serious game academics are convinced ...

Comment In: [Blog - 04/20/2015 - 01:22]

Ultimately, the programmed opponent at ...

Ultimately, the programmed opponent at least, as programmed nowadays is predictable. Behavior of a programmed opponent with randomization can be predicted in ways that one cannot for a good human opponent. Weaker human opponents may be predictable in the same way that programmed opponents are usually predictable. A computer opponent ...

Comment In: [Blog - 03/30/2015 - 01:30]

Stratego, let 's say, is ...

Stratego, let 's say, is very much a hidden information game. But it 's not a particularly deep game, and is quite transparent. The strategy and tactics are fairly obvious. r n r nNo no, it 's not a matter of not learning the rules in Britannia. Britannia rules are ...

Comment In: [Blog - 12/01/2014 - 01:17]

I suspect our differences come ...

I suspect our differences come partly from what games we make. I strongly prefer games with human opposition, and more than two players but at least two . There 's more variability in these games than in single-player. and the interaction between humans is less predictable than interaction between human ...

Comment In: [Blog - 11/10/2014 - 02:16]

Links to discussions of the ...

Links to discussions of the effects of advantage and disadvantage, which vary with the kind of number high or medium you 're trying to achieve. Certainly it isn 's 25 . r n r nIt 's a really clever mechanic, if you understand it correctly. r n r n r ...

Comment In: [Blog - 10/15/2014 - 02:02]

If your game is a ...

If your game is a continuous series of events that lead causally from one to the other, then you are maximizing the amount of unique situations that can occur. I think this idea is counter-intuitive to many, who think that random events occurring somewhere in there must increase the amount ...