Designing to Reveal the Nature of the Universe

Jonathan Blow and I gave a talk at Indiecade this October. I talk about the design philosophy of Miegakure and reveal a bit more about it in the process (for a change).


Here's the summary:

Any system of interactivity can of course be explored: If X happens, what are the consequences? What are all the ways in which pattern Y expresses itself, and to what do those expressions lead? By inspecting the structure of a system in this way, we can find the core ideas of the system, and see how those ideas illustrate fundamental truths of our universe. We present a game design aesthetic that values looking for systems that express these truths in the cleanest possible way. We explain how this is different from more-traditional combinatoric design techniques; we show examples from our games and describe a method for applying the aesthetic in general.

For those of you who came upon this wobsite from xkcd and might not know who Jon is, he is a very intellectual and talented designer, and maker of the indie hit Braid and currently of The Witness. His games also involve revealing interesting aspects of reality, in the case of Braid by allowing the player to rewind time at will. So we have a lot in common and we tried to integrate our viewpoints together in the talk.

Here’s a link to the Indiecade page, on which there’s also a presentation by Richard LeMarchand, and more to come.

Thanks very much to Ida C. Benedetto for recording the talk!

I also did a followup interview for DIYGamer.

4 Responses to “Designing to Reveal the Nature of the Universe”

  1. Marc,

    I posted on Jon's blog but also wanted to post here and thank you for doing this talk. This is one of the most concise talks I've heard about game design and it triggered some serious introspection about how I've been looking at it. I enjoyed watching it several times. I hope this is a way of approaching games that catches on since it seems to leverage what makes games unique, namely discovering truth through formal systems.

    Anyway, thanks again, I look forward to more talks.

  2. AaronLee says:

    Loved the talk, though a lot of it flew over my head. I did take away a lot about mechanic realization and unfolding the laws of a game universe. Think you're going to be at this year's IndieCade?

    • marc says:

      Yeah, it's likely I will be at Indiecade as it is often the most enjoyable conference every year.

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