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Announcing my new game: Hot Wheels id

I am delighted to announce my new role and my new game! You may have noticed that I have been quieter on GAMESbrief recently. Part of that is that I published The Pyramid of Game Design at the start of this year, which was pretty busy. But the bigger reason was that since September 2018,...

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From concept to launch and beyond

There are many different stages of game development. Here’s my favourite: For me, there are five major phases: concept, production, launch, live and sunset. These can be broken down further like this: The five phases of game development Phase 1: Concept Phase 1 is concept, which encompasses the idea, pitching and prototyping. This phase may...

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When to pivot

Pivot is the most overused word in business. It is mistakenly used to cover up mistakes or to justify expensive failures as learning experiences. This is only OK if the team had set out to learn that stuff. If not, it’s a cock-up, not a pivot. As Eric Ries said of his product failures in...

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The Value of Freeloaders

Freeloaders are valuable to your game. Embrace them; don’t kick them out. Here is a list of just some of the value that they provide. You can find out more in other books I have written, including The F2P Toolbox and The Curve (as well as the book this extract comes from: The Pyramid). Liquidity...

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What is the metagame?

I have avoided using the term metagame in my latest book. Metagame has many different definitions in current usage in the games industry. For some companies, it is everything that is not the Base Layer. The Retention Layer, the Superfan Layer and everything outside the game is the metagame. Bungie called the campaign scoring in...

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A word about averages

In service-based games, averages are misleading. Humans tend to understand averages through the lens of physical properties. If I tell you that the height of an average male human is 5′9″ and ask you to guess the height of the next male human to walk through the door, 5′9″ would not only be a pretty...

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The Session and the On-Ramp

The Pyramid is a framework for the strategy of your game design. The Session is tactical. It forms the fundamental building block of service games. It addresses the questions: How will I get my players to open my game? How do I let them have fun? How do I signal that it might be time...

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Three Design Razors

In philosophy, a razor is a principle or rule of thumb that allows one to eliminate unlikely explanations for a phenomenon. The most famous is Occam’s Razor, “among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected,” which can be paraphrased as “of all the competing possibilities, the simplest is often the most...

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The Core Loop: a motor of retention

When I first developed the Pyramid, I used the phrase Base Game, Retention Game and Superfan Game. (And other people used the terms Meta Game and Elder Game). I avoid those terms now because there is only one game. When talking to my clients, I discovered that they assumed that the Base, Retention and Superfan...

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Retention Layers in Board Games

I’ve focused on the Retention Layer in video games, but we are also seeing it emerge in board games. Beasts of Balance is a hybrid digital/ physical game. The physical game is a “balance things on top of other things” game, a variant of Jenga with odd-shaped animal objects. Each object contains a radio frequency...

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