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September 22, 2020
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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, and industry trends. Personal game design blog at:


Member Blogs

Posted by Bart Stewart on Fri, 27 Jul 2018 10:32:00 EDT in Design
One way that game developers can limit player options is by implementing one-way, irreversible events.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Mon, 15 May 2017 09:40:00 EDT in Design
4X games often have unsatisfying endgames because their tactics-oriented mechanics get in the way of strategic fun. This article suggests several ways game designers can emphasize strategic play to keep 4X games enjoyable all the way through.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Thu, 12 Nov 2015 12:20:00 EST in Design, Console/PC
As a game designer, what can you do with a huge open world filled with thousands of different kinds of objects? You can tell stories with the environment itself.

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.

Bart Stewart's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 03/06/2020 - 10:13]

Outstanding article -- folks new ...

Outstanding article -- folks new to game development should find it especially valuable. r n r nIn fact, I 'd love to see a follow-up piece that walks through this way of understanding game design with a hands-on, practical example. What 's an actual case of imagining several possible CGLs ...

Comment In: [News - 07/11/2019 - 04:49]

The idea is that if ...

The idea is that if players with broadly similar play habits to you also tend to play another game you haven 't tried yet, then that game is likely to be a good recommendation for you. r n r nThis is pretty much word-for-word the recommendation approach that Richard Bartle ...

Comment In: [News - 02/26/2019 - 09:16]

We made a principled decision ...

We made a principled decision that we 're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy. r n r nThe DoD isn 't an elected institution, but other than that the principle expressed is entirely sound. Good for Nadella.

Comment In: [Blog - 11/30/2018 - 10:00]

I still get a lot ...

I still get a lot of mileage out of seeing different ways of having fun as a psychological effect. In addition to what they learn, people are wired with different fundamental needs/motivations these general differences show up as well in how people prefer to have fun and there 's value ...

Comment In: [News - 10/29/2018 - 08:39]

First of all, cloud Atlas ...

First of all, cloud Atlas -- cute. r n r nSecondly, would it be too cynical of me to read this as just the latest tactic for trying to justify not making offline single-player games r n r nThe promise of delivering better performance and new simulationist features through cloud-based ...

Comment In: [Blog - 10/03/2018 - 09:40]

An important additional factor in ...

An important additional factor in making a game centered on emergent content is that you should plan to allocate more schedule time to debugging, QA, playtesting, and polishing than you would for a normal game. r n r nThe value of emergent content is its power to surprise. But effects ...