I've enjoyed thousands of excellent resources on game development over the years, but got to thinking: which ones were so impactful they actually changed how I speak?
Surely that would be a small list of excellent resources! And they are:
1) Sequelitis - Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X
It's weird but I feel lucky to live in a time where a video like this exists. 20 minutes of dense, cartoonishly entertaining animation ... about game design? Amazing. Created by Arin Hanson of Game Grumps fame, its almost 15 million views can't be wrong.
The lessons are many, but the main way your language will change is you'll say "Mega Man! Mega Man!" in a mocking voice as a warning when a game design is becoming too naggy. This reminds us that tutorials, popups, and educational material in games are best when integrated invisibly into the game and not bolted onto the side or shoved in your face at any moment.
2) Juice it or lose it - a talk by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho
If you make video games, simply put you've just gotta watch this one.
Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho effortlessly walk us through real, working examples of what they call "juice": low effort / high reward ways to polish your games. After watching this video you'll see all games through the filter of "juice" and imagine ways to juice up everything before you. This changes you.
3) Oil It or Spoil It
Ever been playing a game and it's difficult to move through a doorway, or jump onto a platform, or maybe buy several items at once? It can be hard to talk about these problems and even harder to discuss how to fix them. After reading this article by Lars Doucet, you'll be thinking and talking about "oil" as a handy metaphor for streamlining your input and making your entire game a joy to play.
4) How to Make Your Game Look Good if You're Not a Good Artist
Look, it's barely over 1 minute long. Just watch this gem right now:
Does it make you want to "keep it simple"? Yeah. Me too.
5) The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design
(Unless you're already a trained artist ...) You may not think much about how certain shapes or values impact a game design.
After reading this article you'll be seeing the world with new eyes and constantly talking about primitives, composition, harmony, and other artsy terms. You'll feel like you just got a glimpse into the dark arts and empowered to make more educated design decisions.
6) How Zelda Gets Lock and Key Puzzles Right
I'll keep this one short, sweet, and mysterious:
Repeat after me, lock before key.
7) What Makes an Indie Hit?: How to Choose the Right Design
After reading this you'll be thinking about how "Good Isn't Good Enough" and want to talk to everyone about "hooks" and "market analysis". Many of us passionate weirdos who make video games never hit pause for a moment to think about such important concepts.
That's it! If we ever talk in person you'll hear me speaking many of these words, that's for sure. Thanks for reading.