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DW: Prerequisites

As of 2/8/2012 I am no longer updating this page. Please see this page Game Design 101 for the most up-to-date information. The links on this page are mostly broken.


Before you start designing your own games, mods, or levels, it is important that you have a firm understanding of the game design basics. This includes understanding the heart of the video game medium, mechanics, interplay, variation, and counterpoint. On top of this, it wouldn't hurt to become familiar with the critical theories I've developed.

So if you're looking for an entry point into the level of discourse within the Critical-Gaming Network, a place to start developing your critical-eye, or seeking a crash course in game design then here is where you start.

First of all, if you can get your hands on a copy of the book Half-Real by Jesper Juul, read it cover to cover. This book jump started my journey into developing Critical-Gaming. The foundation and language Half-Real builds is indispensable. After reading the book, make your way through these articles.


Game Design: 101






I also recommend taking the final exam for the Mario Melodies series.



Game Design: 202

Counterpoint continued


Interplay 2

Variation 2

Level Design


Game Design 303

Dynamics & Misc. Theory

Dynamics (Time & Decay) 

Dynamics (2D/3D Space)

Misc. Design & Theory

  1. Organic and Inorganic Design
  2. Taking CHARGE
  3. Difficulty Design: A Difficult Endeavour
  4. Interplay....Gunplay
  5. Tension: Threats & Timers
  6. Video Game Climaxes
  7. Inward Innovation
  8. Mulling Over Multiple Goals
  9. Engaging Design
  10. Engage, Challenge, Interact
  11. Spectator Sport
  12. Counterpoint: Functional Blind Spots
  13. Wrinkles in Design Space


Game Design 404

Genre Specific






Game Design 505


Co-op Design





Game Design 606



Evaluating Combat

Interesting Choices

Digital Truth

Predicting Emergence


Game Design 707

 Learning, Motivation, and Behavior

Interpreting the Mind from the Game





Game Design 808

Story and Clear Communication

Clear Communication



Game Design 909

Back to the Basics



Save System Design 

  • Save System Design pt.1
  • Save System Design pt.2
  • Save System Design pt.3
  • Save System Design pt.4



    Stay tuned for the first lesson in the Designer's Workshop where we'll investigate how mechanics, their function, and  level elements are uniquely interdependant. We'll also take a close look at influence, interplay, and counterpoint of Super Smash Brother's Brawl's level design.

    « DW Lesson 1: Range and Limitations | Main | Wario Land: Shake It! Review »

    Reader Comments (2)

    Just discovered your blog and am amazed at the volume of information about game design available. Thanks

    November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkyrim Mods

    @Skyrim Mods

    Thanks. If you have any questions just let me know.
    So.... how are things in Skyrim?

    November 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

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