2020 was the end of yet another decade of the game industry, and like with each one that came before it, the industry would grow and completely change to the point that it would be unrecognizable to anyone looking back at it in the future. For today, I want to celebrate the group that grew the most in that span of time, and how the last decade should be remembered as the rise of the independent developer.
The popularity and genre-defining nature of From Software’s mega-franchise Dark Souls has been interesting to watch. Not only with its approach to action design, but how it has helped influenced and elevated the genre for now over a decade. I could talk about any facet of the game as its own article — the combat, the environmental design, enemies, art, etc., but I want to talk about one area where very few competitors have managed to compete with From Software on, and that is the evolution of boss design.
Everyone plays video games for different reasons and there are fans of all sorts. Some of you reading this love to see the “You Win!” sign appear on a fighting game. Maybe you really like saving Princess Peach with some platforming or enjoy wandering the land with Geralt. For today, I want to talk about one of the most niche genres and why there are fans like myself who just love watching stuff move from point A to point B.
Horror design is the subject of my next book and having played so many examples lately, I’ve noticed a problematic trend in their design. Even the very best examples like Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 7, Silent Hill, and so on fall victim to a poor back half and I want to talk about the issues of pacing when it comes to horror design.
A new feature I do on Game-Wisdom is a weekly show where I review Indie game store pages and offering marketing advice and how to best present your game. Selling your game is just as important as designing it, and I want to go over, from top to bottom, some of the basic things you can do to help your game stand out.
The recent announcement over the failure of Balan Wonderworld and the possible retirement of Yuji Naka has made me think more about the structure of gameplay and game design. I haven’t played the game yet, but watching footage and hearing impressions about it, and I could not imagine that game being a success in today’s market, which raises a big question: Why was it designed that way?
Yuji Naka joins a surprisingly long list of developers who were in the AAA or AA space that could not bounce back with new games following the ones that made them a success…
Doom Eternal was one of my favorite games of 2020 — a masterclass in evolving the push forward, glory kill, gameplay loop of Doom 2016. So I was excited to finally get a chance to play through the Ancient Gods DLC after reacquainting myself with the base game on nightmare difficulty. After spending a few hours with Part 1, I was at the point where I was considering retroactively removing my praise for the base game. …
Itis funny to look back over the years at the many games that have featured Mario and think about how Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was ever conceived. It would kick off a new genre for everyone’s favorite plumber, and in a way, was ahead of its time in terms of where RPGs and videogames began to experiment.
According to interviews, Squaresoft was looking for a way to make a more accessible and marketable JRPG outside of Japan at the same time Shigeru Miyamoto was interested in making an RPG starring Mario. …
In 2020, I wrote a personal piece talking about my life and the past decade of growing myself and my work with Game-Wisdom. In it, I spoke about how video games made me a better person and for today I want to talk about how roguelike design is perhaps one of the best teachers and ways to prepare for real life.
Resident Evil 7 proved that the series that had fallen so far out of horror’s grace could still do something interesting, and while it wasn’t the perfect horror experience, it was enough to breathe new life into it. Since then, fans have been waiting to see how Capcom will capitalize on reviving Resident Evil. What we got were two remakes, one amazing, one not so much, and now finally a proper sequel. Resident Evil 8 feels like a more confident version of 7 but fails in my opinion to properly improve on the formula.
Josh Bycer is the owner of Game-Wisdom and specializes in examining the art and science of games. He has over seven years of experience discussing game design.