Game Design: The Thread

Not enough gamers are design-literate or appreciate the clever ways game designers deliver unique experiences. I wanted to have a thread to help shine a light on great game design concepts for a while now but never figured out how to best format that kinda thing.

Earlier today, I had an idea to dedicate a thread to my favorite game design YT channel and figured it could serve as a basis for some good discussion. By no means should this imply I only want to see GMT’s vids here (the more channels the merrier!). Extra Credits is another great channel. Some great long form reviewers exist out there too.

Here’s Mark Brown’s channel for anyone interested:

I don’t really know where to start, so decided to pick my favorite 10 videos from his channel in hopes it can foster some interesting discussion.

  1. The Nemesis System: How the Nemesis System Creates Stories - YouTube
  2. What Makes Good AI?: What Makes Good AI? | Game Maker's Toolkit - YouTube
  3. How Game Designers Protect Players from Themselves: How Game Designers Protect Players From Themselves | Game Maker's Toolkit - YouTube
  4. How Level Design can Tell a Story: How Level Design Can Tell a Story - YouTube
  5. Small Open Worlds:
  6. Innovation in Baby Is You: How Baba Is You Works | GMTK Most Innovative 2019 - YouTube
  7. Innovation in Event [0]: How Event[0] Works | GMTK Most Innovative 2016
  8. Innovation in Her Story: How Her Story Works | GMTK Most Innovative 2015 - YouTube
  9. Games that Designed Themselves: The Games That Designed Themselves - YouTube
  10. Best Level Design (2017): 5 Amazing Levels from 2017 | Game Maker's Toolkit - YouTube

Find any of these videos worth watching? Any thoughts on the concepts or ideas discussed in a video?


I love GMTK so much. He’s one of the few people who can explain game design in an easy to digest kind of way.

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I really like he topic in general since it ilicits some super interesting problem solving from devs that often is totally overlooked. I also think the industry needs more focus on this stuff since so many publishers are risk averse nowadays and sometimes even less than great games can have super innovative design elements that I’d love to see other teams run with.

One example is the Nemesis system. I’d LOVE to see something like that tried out in a full on western rpg. Add more faction types and it could be something super compelling and really add flavor to side missions potentially.

Oh, yeah, this guy is great. His videos are highly enjoyable to watch and are very informational as well.

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I love GMTK, I appreciate the calm and simple way Mark describes the reasons why things are done as they are and the issues that arise from poor choices. As someone who likes to be informed and educated about some topics she doesn’t know first hand, Mark is an excellent teacher. He is the very antithesis of typical internet discourse about games which generally boils down to “LMAO, you think x is y”

I like watching his game jams too, and to watch quickly made games and to hear him enthuse about them and their choices.
I don’t want to fangirl out too much but content like GMTK is exactly what I love most about this hobby, a calm friendly non reactionary person showing you perfectly and simply what is behind the curtain when it comes to design.

I love all the videos you picked @TavishHill I would also add this playlist of his videos specifically addressing accessibility options in games.

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Never watched his Game Jams before! Gonna have to now! I got into watching his vids as an education researcher interested in learning how game designers ‘teach’ players all manner of concepts and abstract ideas, even when he designers don’t realize they are doing it. Been interested in using what I learn from him and others to leverage as a STEM educator. Gpnna check out the vid you pointed to here shortly too. :slight_smile:

I dont tend to watch streaming, since typically its not convinient, however when I am able I always try to catch a little of Him streaming while the gamejam is on. The edited review though of the “best” following them is always concise and entertaining. I would highly recommend them.

And yeah the accessibility playlist is a really interesting watch, the videos on motor disabilities and Celeste’s Assist mode are standouts for me, and are a really concise argument against the all too common cry of “You would ruin the experience for people if you let them have…easy mode/infinite lives/slowdown mode” etc.


Ok there are some wildly creative games in the Game Jam video! The platformer with the UX that can be drug out into the game world is something I’d love to play. The one where ya radically alter the genre of the game on the spot was super cool! I’m only 10mins in too!

Its amazing the quality and breadth of games come up in the GMTK jams, (well I guess in any gamejam, I’ve only really watched GMTK ones) I feel I would spend the time purely thinking of a concept before actually creating anything.

Watching and being around artists just throwing things at the wall is pretty fulfilling.

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For anyone interested, this is another great channel and the presenter dig deep into what it means for a game to be ‘immersive’.

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oo shall watch that later thanks, not even noticed this creator before, new sub! :smiley:

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That was a good watch @TavishHill look forward to watching more videos from them when I get time.

On the topic of immersion, I often disagree with claims that a first person perspective is more “immersive” just be being first person. Though you are seeing through the eyes, you’re missing a great deal of the periphery and general awareness of what is just to your sides and behind you that a lot of the time I feel more “immersed” in the world when third person perspective gives you that spatial awareness. Thats just me though :smiley: Interesting topic.


I always thought about immersion in terms of two different ideas:

  1. How easily does the game present the world and your perspectives w/in it as believable and alluring.
  2. How well does the game hold onto player attention/engagement once they find the world believable.

I can see merit to the claim FP games do #1 better than other camera solutions. There can be drawbacks for #2 though, such as there being a lot less room for flow states to make sense. Some games with FP view hold onto players really, really well.

Cyberpunk is an example that demonstrates #2 well, where despite the various graphics bugs and other visual incongruent element the players still tend to get sucked right back into the experience even after glitches show them it’s just a videogame. OTOH, many TP views aren’t seeing the graphics issues in many titles up close and in their face, including low res textures or whatnot. Even if a TP game takes longer to really pull the player into its world, it can avoid some of those common pitfalls that break immersion so easily in FP games. Other perspectives also have pros and cons in that area too.

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Thanks @TavishHill I genuinely enjoyed reading that. I’m used to ERA (or GAF) and just seeing a “FPS is better of course” response.
I guess it really does vary from person to person. Its not so much the minutia of the world which draws me in, but my place among it, feeling like my avatar is a solid piece of that world I guess, it doesn’t matter that its third person, if I move in a “non floaty” way and my sense of how far that sofa is behind me (for example) is represented in game.

I feel as well that something that is oft missed in terms of immersion is the characterisation of the “players” of the story, we could have all the graphical and artistic complexities we would like but there is nothing quite like breaking Immersion, for me, than a poorly written character or nonsensical character arc. For me something like Mass Effect 3 or Andromeda, in recent (and painful) :slight_smile: memory.

Again thanks for the reply, was interesting to read, and of course completely understandable.


Third Person FTW baby!!! Whoooo!!! lol

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Posted it another thread but It got little traction probably cause its not related but:

I do appreciate when stuff like “fake language” gets added to games. Adds a nice layer of immersion and distinctiveness. Examples being something like Ori or Gravity Rush.


That is a good thing to mention too. The game’s ability to secure the player’s connection to the character and the game’s ability to make that character feel part of the world and the game’s ability to hold those connections intact.

I’d bet comfort with the camera view helps a lot which would come to down the personal taste/experiences.

Yeah that is a good point. I love that and I REALLY like when slang is used well. Cyberpunk does slang super well, as an example. There are soooo many elements big and small that all contribute to immersion. Would love hearing more game devs speak on it.

Not real thrilled about this. Hopefully similar systems can be devised by other devs to accomplish a similar end result.

I’m actually thrilled about this because im not really a fan of the Nemesis System so other companies not being able to use it is actually better for me. Plus, I know some developers have complained about it which makes no sense because in over 6 years, I haven’t seen a single game even attempt a Nemesis System.

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