Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

FROM THE ARCHIVES: FAIR (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game development

FROM THE ARCHIVES: FAIR (by Tom Russell)

A couple weeks ago someone asked me about a set-up rule in one of my games, the rule being designed to confer to one side or the other a slight advantage at the beginning of the game. And this person was wondering why that was. Just as easily, the game could be set-up so as to confer no advantage to either side. Wouldn't that be more fair?  And yes, it would be, but I had no interest in the thing ever being "fair". Partially this is because exploiting or overcoming that advantage is what gives the first turn or two...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE BALANCE BINARY (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game balance, game design, game development

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE BALANCE BINARY (by Tom Russell)

I have a strong preference - as a player, as a designer, and as one-half of a publisher - for dynamic games, by which I mean games where the balance is highly mutable and prone to distortion based on player actions. One of the ways I try to achieve this in my own work is through the use of feedback loops, in which succeeding makes it easier to succeed, and failing makes it easier to fail. The winners keep winning and the losers keep losing. The balance of the game is in flux, capable of being tilted in one direction...


PLAYING WITH MYSELF (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design, game play, solitaire

PLAYING WITH MYSELF (by Tom Russell)

Like many folks these last few weeks, a lot of my recent gaming has been solitaire. This isn't all that unusual for me: I tend to spend a fair amount of time playtesting things solo to ensure that they are mechanically sound before I inflict them on other human beings. (That's a lesson I quickly learned in my salad days after a particularly disastrous playtest which ended with all my testers regarding me with a disconcerting and piteous mixture of bug-eyed horror and strained, polite smiles.) That's probably my primary reason for playing games solitaire - as part of my...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: MIDNIGHT OIL (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags creative, productive

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MIDNIGHT OIL (by Tom Russell)

When I was in my twenties, I used to stay up late - two o'clock, three o'clock, five o'clock in the morning - working on creative projects. I didn't need to go into work until eleven, and the place was about ten minutes away, so I could wake up at ten-thirty or even quarter-to and have time for a shower and a change of clothes before rushing out the door. The solitude, the quiet, the darkness outside gave me a kind of focus and clarity that I didn't get during the daylight. About six years ago, I got a new...


THE GAME PLAYS YOU (Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design

THE GAME PLAYS YOU (Tom Russell)

It doesn't really bother me when people slag on my games. My games are often somewhat experimental and can be abrasive, so I can't expect everyone to dig them. Honestly, I'm surprised whenever a game does resonate with a larger audience. As long as the people who like the game like it, I don't really care about the folks that don't - and our production model gives me that luxury. That's not to say that I ignore the bad notices; quite the contrary! Negative feedback forces me to question my work - gives me useful doubts. This, in turn, helps...