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Video: Jon Blow on 'The Truth in Game Design'

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]
January 31, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

January 31, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design, Video

Courtesy of the GDC Vault is this free lecture by Jonathan Blow from the Game Developers Conference Europe 2011. Here he looks at Conway's Game of Life and his own games, Braid and the upcoming The Witness, to explore a different way to approach game design.

More ideas came out of the development process and ended up in Braid than what was put into it, says Blow. By leaving it up to the system of the game to answer the questions behind Braid, starting with what happens when the player can reverse time, he was able to observe what interesting things could happen rather than force predetermined things to happen.

Session Name: Truth in Game Design

Speaker(s): Jonathan Blow

Company Name(s): Number None, Inc.

Track / Format: Game Design

Overview:We illustrate that games, being algorithmic systems implemented on computers, are biased toward revealing truth, so long as we do not quash the truth in order to force our own high-level wishes into the design. We can use games as instruments, like telescopes or elec-tron microscopes, to observe aspects of the universe that we would not normally have access to.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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Michael Joseph
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This was a very interesting talk.

The beginning reminded me of Stephen Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science"

Jon Blow here helps to give insight I think into why iterative design/development works... why it can result in a better game compared to those that are born of a thick design document.

This can work well for a single developer or small team, but is it practical with very large teams making very large games? Content development can stall or result in alot of wasted effort with even modest changes in direction. The answer there could be to start with iterative prototyping rather than overly long design document writing.

Anyways, his philosophy reminds me of the inventors philosphy with a bit of the painter and sculptor thrown in. Keep an open mind and you might just stumble upon something that was waiting to be discovered.