Game Design Tips from Jordan Mechner

Game design pointers don’t get any better than when they come from Jordan Mechner, the man who designed Prince of Persia, The Last Express, and one of the main reasons I became a game designer, the elegant and stylish Karateka.

Here’s his blog on story-based game design. Today I’m giving props to design tip #6: “The more the player feels that the events of the game are being caused by his own actions, the better — even when this is an illusion.”

And yes, the new Prince of Persia movie looks promising. They scored Jake Gyllenhaal, Alfred Molina, and Ben Kingsley on the cast. It’s helmed by Mike Newell, whose resume is a lot more balanced than, say, Michael Bay’s (Newell’s work includes Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Love in the Time of Cholera, and the indie darling Four Weddings and a Funeral).


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  1. Actually I find this the best rule:
    1) The story is what the player does, not what he watches.

    Seriously if I have to watch 15 minutes of Intro just to play the game….it’s not worth it. And with this is the concept, don’t show me a cut scene where either I or the NPC do something awesome and I can’t do it in game. (and further more don’t advance the plot with something that could easily be altered by what the character can do…oh look the princess died…boo hoo…wait I have a healing potion ta da! I win)

  2. Ain’t that the truth! Long cinematics are usually game designers playing badly at being movie directors.

    And nothing’s more frustrating than watching a cutscene where your character fails to do something easy and logical just to move the plot forward.

    Not a fan of Metal Gear Solid, I’m guessing? :)

    I’ve got another gripe about design problems that’s sadly related to the new Pirates game I was telling you about. Coming soon.

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