Episode 44: The Thread and the Tapestry

Fabric is woven on a loom

Designing a single gameplay system is a meaningful challenge by itself, but it’s also only the first step in the design of modern games. Today’s games are built not around the single threads of individual systems, but rather around complex tapestries: multitudes of gameplay systems that overlap with and influence one other in a profusion of different ways. Economies, level progressions, social systems—even “simple” modern games involve surprisingly intricate inter-system connections. How does one approach designing these kinds of complex interdependencies? On Episode 44 of Vertical Slice we’re exploring the unique challenge of overlapping system design, and looking for the principles that can help steer the way to meaningful and fun system interactions.

Show Notes

  • Inspired by the Switch, Chris has been looking for deeper games on the iPad. Ports of slower-paced PC games like The Banner Saga and Civilization 6 are proving a good source of more meaningful iPad experiences.
  • While multi-system games are now the standard, well-crafted single-system games can still have a special appeal. Derek suggests Tiny Wings and Whale Trail as worthwhile exemplars of modern single-system design.
  • If you’re looking for games that test the limits of sprawling multi-system interaction, Paradox Interactive is the studio to study. Games like Stellaris and Europa Universalis define the far end of modern game complexity and command skilled, specialized audiences.

Image credit: raichovak