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Brian Moriarty, the renowned Infocom and LucasArts veteran behind adventure games like Beyond Zork and Loom, believes that coding lies at the very core of good game design. Sure, understanding theory helps, but if you really want to make good games, he argues that you might want to learn a programming language or two.
At the GDC Education Summit during this year's Game Developers Conference, Moriarty -- now a professor at Worchester Polytechnic Institute -- outlined how his course teaches students about game design, and it all begins with understanding how games work.
Moriarty began his career in the industry as a programmer, and to him, that's what game design is. If you're going to design new gameplay mechanics, for example, you need to know how to put them together, and Moriarty decided that idea would become the basis for his own game design curriculum.
"I decided that the fundamental activity for my students ought to be, must be...expressing game ideas in code."
Next, Moriarty needed to find a game engine for his students, but unfortunately, the modern game engines on the market were too specialized or two complicated for a fresh-faced game design student, so Moriarty had to create something on his own.
In the end, he came up with "Perlenspiel," a simple engine that allows fledgling designers to manipulate squares on a 16x16 grid to make interactive toys, puzzles, and even games. It's a simple tool, but in the end, it helped the students -- and Moriarty -- boil game design down to its most basic principles.
To learn more about Moriarty's game design philosophy and his vision for the Perlenspiel engine, simply click the Play button on the above video, courtesy of the GDC Vault.
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