I’ve been questioning what gives games their allure for several years now and I think I’ve come to a conclusion or two. The main quest in my search has been to find the games I really find engrossing - dissect them - and discover what the core components are. Personally, I’ve settled upon three variables that drive the volume of fun and set how habitual my experience with the game will be.

  • To connect with the being I will play as, the game must not overpopulate the world with beings of a similar nature. By this - I mean to say that in the game world I must feel alone. Even if the game world is (lets say) a planet rife with all manner of interesting characters, they must feel alien, or at least foreign. Isolation seems to be another factor, even if it’s just in select moments. Strangely isolation seems to create a drive to move forward and understand the presented world better. (but, that might just be me)
  • Exploration - is - in it’s own right a tool for generating the feeling of accomplishment in players. This plays off the above characteristic of feeling alone quite nicely. The effect of seeing a new area, zone, or location for the first time can be increased if the player feels he or she is the first to do so. This is not to say that exploration is limited to visual changes in the game world. Exploration can just as easily be the interaction a player has with the game itself. I would go so far as to write: The amount of exploration is in a 1:1 ratio with the amount of value a game can have.
  • The final aspect seems to be a well paced sense of progress. I think the key here is not the advancement itself - which is present in all media, even if internal to the viewer - but instead the pacing of said progress. The way in which a world moves forward is directly proportional to how alive it seems to be. In this light, correct momentum in a game seems to be paramount. You could correlate this to storyline, character growth, scenery, audible changes, and basically any other facet of a game to see it’s importance.

I think it’s important to note that simply having these themes is not the same as having them be executed well. There are plenty of low quality examples one could find that feature one or more of the above and still suck - but I’m not game bashing here, so let’s move on.

One final point is how these concepts can come to interact. I hate to bring up any real examples but since it will most likely come up anyway and this is an opinion piece - here we go. Let’s take a look at the first half of the Metroid series, which is in my eyes possibly the best series ever created: Each of the games in turn (though, I guess Super Metroid shines) features these three components in spades. The isolation and panic drove me forward where I was greeted with a sort of forced exploration; but no matter how linear Metroid is, it never fell as such thanks to its excellent pacing.

I’m sure there will be people that disagree, and I’ve not really fleshed out these ideas yet, but I think it’s a start in defining what makes a game experience useful or fun. I will continue to work on this theory of mine, but I would like to hear what anyone reading this has to think as well.

(This post taken from Threeli.com )



Excerpt from the Internet: Misery

I witnessed some small animals being mauled yesterday. This was sadly the inspiration for a small flash game/story: Misery

(This post taken from Threeli.com )


Music watch: My third studio album is complete.

I have completed my third studio album; Vizionz on the Horizonz. For now; the single 12-52 can be heard on my musicians myspace page. Check it out now. The full album will be released here, as well as a few other locations digitally, on May 30th.

(This post taken from Threeli.com )


Excerpt from the Internet: Today I Die

A short while ago, before the press leapt upon my like so many wolves, I discovered Today I Die. First reaction: This is refreshing stuff. It’s interesting in a way the flash ‘game’ stream pouring from the bowels of the internet and the so-called abstract indie games can’t be. It’s short - yes it is - but quite sweet. It’s deep, and once again I must stress that it is refreshing.

Definitely worth a play; and while you’re at it, play creator Daniel Benmergui’s back-catalog of games. They carry the same torch as TID.

(This post taken from Threeli.com )



New Site!

I'll be slowly transitioning from here to threeli.com
but I'll mirror all posts here for a while!


New project in the works...

[Update] - It's not really a new project per se... but instead one I have picked back up and am going to rescue from the walls of my brain. If you follow me you'll note the last project I spoke of (before FTG) was one focusing (in some respect) around the element of survival. Well; here at two A.M. I remembered suddenly a second game I had started (also focusing around that theme), so there will be two. Exciting no?

I won't say much right now, but I have a new project in the works. It will be small, and hopefully interesting. Unlike most of my other ideas; this one seems doable in a short time-span, which is apparently a facet of design I'm starting to understand the need for.

I also will be moving this blog away from blogger and to my new (newly redesigned) website, Threeli.com; which will concern my thoughts on game design, the actual games I produce, and my music. I'll let you know when that happens.

More info soon,



Sometimes; and this is rare at best, but sometimes people read what ed mcmillen writes... And even more rare; they do what he says.

Getting Things Done,

One cannot stress enough how awesome it is to get things done. It is quite awesome. Firstly, apologies for me taking so long off from writing and generating output; though I am also a musician and the call to arms (musically) has hit me of late. Either way, I am now back, and will resume outputting that which I love so dearly (games). I think I'll have a new smallish game here soon (for the remaining 3 people who read this blog).