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October 17, 2019
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Chris Totten's Blog   Expert Blogs


My name is Chris Totten.  I am a game design/3D animation professor. I have a Masters Degree in Architecture from Catholic University, where I did my thesis on how game design techniques and tools can be implemented in real world spatial design (two articles on this project were published here on Gamasutra and Game Career Guide.)  

I've been a guest speaker at GDC, East Coast Game Conference, Dakota State University's Workshop on Integrated Design as well as GDC China. I have also published three books on game design and development: Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity, An Architectural Approach to Level Design, and Level Design: Processes and ExperiencesI am the founder of my own indie development studio, Pie For Breakfast Studios (

My portfolio can be found at

If you'd like to reach me to discuss any of the posts, collaborate, have me come to a con, or even just dish out some game design conversation, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]


Expert Blogs

Posted by Chris Totten on Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:01:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie
This article describes several architectural design concepts for use in level design, how to invite players to explore, and how to balance difficulty so that players feel failure is their fault through design notes from the indie game Dead Man's Trail.

Posted by Chris Totten on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:23:00 EDT in Design, Production, Serious, Indie
How participating in a Game Jam at the White House brought our new American University Game Lab together and taught us about game development in the Washington, DC area.

Posted by Chris Totten on Fri, 11 Jul 2014 01:17:00 EDT in Design, Art, Console/PC
In this post, I provide a few excerpts from my new book, An Architectural Approach to Level Design, which was recently published by CRC Press.

Posted by Chris Totten on Wed, 03 Jul 2013 12:26:00 EDT in Design, Production, Art, Console/PC, Indie, Smartphone/Tablet
In this post, I discuss putting together a game development summer camp course for kids, and how we used free and open source tools to empower kids to continue making games at home.

Posted by Chris Totten on Sun, 07 Apr 2013 03:44:00 EDT in Production, Indie, Smartphone/Tablet
In this post, I highlight some exciting observations I made from GDC 2013 that bode well for small, design-focused game developers.

Posted by Chris Totten on Sun, 24 Mar 2013 12:59:00 EDT in Business/Marketing, Indie
In this post, I give some tips for different types small developers on making the most of this week's GDC from off site, on the show floor, or as a volunteer.

Chris Totten's Comments

Comment In: [News - 10/28/2014 - 10:34]

Hey, organizer of the arcade ...

Hey, organizer of the arcade here. We 're working with the following criteria: r n r nTo be considered eligible for inclusion in the arcade, your game must be developed to a point where it can be played continuously as intended for at least 5 minutes. r n r nPortion ...

Comment In: [Feature - 01/03/2012 - 04:55]

Great article In all the ...

Great article In all the writing I 've done about level design, the Zelda series is one that I keep going back to as examples of great design and great teaching in level layouts. You 've done some really great focused stuff here :-

Comment In: [Blog - 07/11/2014 - 01:17]

Thanks Check out the book ...

Thanks Check out the book if you 'd like to see more :-

Comment In: [Blog - 03/20/2014 - 01:27]

Thanks for this great article. ...

Thanks for this great article. I 'm running a Kickstarter right now and while I 'm normally able to keep myself pretty upbeat about game dev, it 's starting to take its toll :-

Comment In: [Blog - 03/08/2014 - 07:19]

Really great advice. I think ...

Really great advice. I think what makes your approach really hit home is that you want to make great games AND think about the business end of things. It 's equally dangerous to be someone who only thinks about business and set up your entire business structure without a solid ...

Comment In: [Blog - 01/18/2014 - 10:23]

Recommendation: DO styles of art ...

Recommendation: DO styles of art that you can complete quickly to a level of visual attractiveness and that you can create multiples of as necessary. i.e. if you are a new/slow 3D artist, DON 'T do 3D art r n r nDO experiment with new types of production: I am ...