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Game Design

Designer’s Blog Designer’s Blog. This is my blog on whatever game design topics happen to interest me at the time of writing. My intent is that this will replace the older design diaries, which by there nature were a more restrictive format and structure and which also tended towards long, involved entries. The goals for the blog (compared to the design diaries) are more frequent, more varied, and more to the point — whatever point I’m trying to make, at any rate.
The Guns of Gettysburg The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary. This is a diary covering the design process for the game The Guns of Gettysburg. As was the case with the Napoleon’s Triumph design diary, it picks up after the design has been started (necessary in order to be reasonably confident that the game will eventually be published). I won’t make any promises this time about how often it will be updated, since my promises just proved embarrassing last time and instead will just let the design process determine when the diary will be updated and what the content of the diary will be.
Napoleon’s Triumph Napoleon’s Triumph Design Diary. This is a diary covering the design process for the game Napoleon’s Triumph. Much of the work on the game was done long before this diary was written – necessarily so as it was not desirable to announce that the game is going to be published without a firm idea of what it would be. The diary will therefore be covering a review of work done weeks or months previously as well as updates on new work completed since the last diary entry. It is generally expected that the diary will be updated with new articles once or twice a week (generally site updates are done on weekly each Monday).
Bonaparte at Marengo Bonaparte at Marengo Design Notes. These are the design notes that were published at the back of the rules booklet for the game Bonaparte at Marengo. Even though they are available to anyone who buys the game or even just downloads the rules here, still it seemed worthwhile to make them available here where they are more accessible than inside a one megabyte PDF download. Because the game had its origin as a game system, the notes are almost entirely concerned with the goals of the system and how the rules were structured to meet those goals. The narrative backbone is (appropriately enough) historical, except that the history under discussion is not the history of the battle but the history of the game.
Chance and Wargames Chance and Wargames. One of the features of Bonaparte at Marengo that has excited the most comment is the chance-free method of resolving combat. Although it is not the first game to resolve combat without dice, cards or other randomizers, it is certainly one of a very small group of wargames to do so, which is why this aspect of the game has attracted so much attention. The intent of this essay is not to attack or defend the use of chance in wargames (or its lack of use in Bonaparte at Marengo), but to explore its role where it is used, the class of problems it is invoked to handle, and specifically, since wargames are simulations as well as games, what it is called upon to simulate.
Line of Sight and Wargames Line of Sight and Wargames. Line of sight is one of the classically hard problems to solve in wargame design and is the subject of this essay. The discussion begins with a description of the traditional wargame approach to line of sight and analyzes its difficulties. Next it proposes a new approach to the problem and shows how that approach was used in the design of The Guns of Gettysburg. Finally, it shows how that same approach could be applied to a traditional hex-based wargame, and even how it could be improved.