Negative Space


Both developers and players spend a serious amount of time and energy focusing on how we might get more out of games. More features. More content. More tough decisions. It’s easy to forget that sometimes… less is more.

Most titles where a single session lasts longer than a few minutes are best served by providing players at least a small measure of downtime. This “negative space” of game design is an important ingredient in proper pacing.


Good Pacing… Bad Design?

Games often incorporate features that might be considered a bit “boring” with the express purpose of giving players  a breather. If a game is 20 hours long and every last second of it from naming your character to the final credits is over-the-top intense, most people would be too stressed out to get anywhere close to the end!


TGDRT #11 – Storytelling With Telltale

Episode #11 is now live!

A “high-energy” episode this week as Jon and Dirk are joined by Telltale Games designers (and Idle Thumbs hosts) Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin. The guests share their experiences developing story-based games, with a particular focus on The Walking Dead. Many of the design challenges they face contrast heavily with what Jon and Dirk are used to with more abstract, non-story titles. And yet, the crew also discovers that many of the nuts and bolts that go into game development are the same regardless of what type of project you’re working on.

Oh, and a spoiler warning for those of you who haven’t yet finished Season 1 of The Walking Dead. Jake and Sean discuss important plot points a couple times, so listener beware!

I primarily know Jake and Sean as the hosts of the Idle Thumbs podcast, so it was great to pick their brain on topics relating to game design. They have a ton of energy and great chemistry so I can see why their podcast has been so successful.

As for the actual discussions on the show, adventure games are an old love of mine, so I’m thrilled to see them doing well and marching along, even as other genres have risen and fallen. I’m particularly pumped right now for Lori and Corey Cole’s Hero-U, which is kind of a spiritual successor to their amazing Quest for Glory/Hero’s Quest series.

Vive des jeux d’adventure!

– Jon