Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sword of Mana: World Design

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Blogger K. Thor Jensen said...

This is a really excellent blog, I'm so glad I found it. Bookmarked! You might want to check out the game company I work for, Gamelab ( - we have designers and programmers here trying to do similar things on our blog in terms of design analysis. Plus we make good games.

12 July, 2007 21:24  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

Well, if you really are THIS k. thor jensen then frankly, I don't know what to say.. Except maybe that YES of course we know gamelab and that we think you guys are fantastic and that we love your work and that you are a great inspiration for us! It is a great honor for us seeing you visit our blog. :-D

12 July, 2007 22:17  
Blogger Yu-Chung Chen said...

Nice article!

Good points and well written. Also UPP is a nice term, reminds me of the the concept of data-ink introduced by Edward Tufte.

Speaking of whom, his chapter on Layering (in Envisioning Information) delivers a good explanation of how the Zelda and Metroid series manage to keep high UPP places interesting - they are layered with gameplay elements for different stages of progression. By tying major rewards to new ways of seeing and "using" the world, the revisits of those high UPP places are refreshed. The layering also makes the balancing manageable. I guess (never actually did that kind of level design).

But this core formular not only "addresses the problem" of burnout of high UPP content, but rather in turn induces a kind of the 1+1=3 effect, in a positive way: the world feels much richer because things aren't there only to be solved in a quest, but feel more like a natural part in the world. Check out this
Gamasutra feature
, too.

You said that new abilities should have multi-purposes. I totally agree. Layering and enhancing UPP also applies to game mechanics, which was exactly my fundamental idea to deepen my game Gravity (currently called Lovely Dilemma). By tying tokens and behaviors to different dimensions of a verb, these can be balanced separately (layering), ideally benefitting from the concept of 1+1=3.

About replayability in huge games, I expect to rant about it in my FFXII diary. But your analysis says it all already.

Oh, and it's great to have visitors - and even a top-class one at that! A great motivator to post.

12 July, 2007 23:25  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

Thanks for the valueable feebback!

I didn't think about data-ink when I wrote about UPP but it fits perfectly! He certainly had some influence on the way I think. However, UPP is also related to LostGarden's HPD

I totally agree about your observations on layering. Again, I completely missed that Tufte connection. I'm planning on writing something about layering in a post about Zelda.

Applying UPP on Verbs is brilliant! Of course! Why didn't I think about it! BTW, after your running project you simply have to get Gravity online somehow.

Thanks for the Gamasutra feature. It is a perfect follow-up to this post. Also, Kevin Carter gets extra kudos from me for mentioning Another World. Yet another unknown masterpiece.

13 July, 2007 03:33  
Blogger Evil Dan said...

Wow. That was beautifully articulated. Thank you so much for putting down in writing your thoughts about UPP. This is a wonderully usefull concept for developers.

You might be interested in this article I wrote as a critique of the Legend of Zelda for the NES:

09 May, 2008 17:53  
Blogger Pablo said...

You've got some good shit going on here

20 January, 2009 22:56  

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