Episode 27: Equilibrium

A small stack of rocks measures up against its big brother at Arches National Park

In the parlance of game design, balance refers to the equilibrium between a game’s component parts: that carefully tuned web of relationships between goals, systems, and challenges from which fun is intended to arise. Skillfully balanced games ride the lines between challenge and frustration, investment and grind, in ways that can appear effortless, but in fact require keen design intuition and dexterity. So how does the delicate dance of balancing a game work? On this, the one-year birthday episode of Vertical Slice, Chris and Derek are joined by veteran game designer Stone Librande to discuss the nuanced process of guiding a game towards a state of well-calibrated fun.

Show Notes

  • Stone’s archive of professional talks and personal game designs: Stonetronix Designs.
  • game < design (GDC 2015): Stone discusses the importance of the sometimes under-considered design half of game design
  • 19 Games in 19 Years (Guldbrikken 2014): Nineteen of Stone’s personal game projects, created to entertain his sons as they grew from the ages of 3 to 22
  • Simulating a City – One Page at at Time (GDC 2013): A view of Stone’s design process during the development of SimCity (2013)

Image credit: Greg Hewgill