Resources for New Designers

edited July 2013 in Story Games
I will be running a seminar at GenCon 2013 titled "How to learn Roleplaying Game Design". As part of this, I will be providing each participant with a free DVD full of goodies and resources to get them started in the craft. My original intent was to stick to excellent design podcasts, but I recognize there may be other free resources worth sharing.

What free, sharable game design resources would you recommend I add? Any specific podcast episodes, ebooks or other sharable digital media would be appreciated. Show me what you've got!


  • RPG Design Patterns.

    Knutepunkt books. (Also grab a few years back worth o books.) Some might be a bit high level or theoretical or weird/larp focused/Scandinavian. But they also will give interesting ideas and will expand people's horizons on what an RPG can do.

    Kevin Crawford's basic guide to RPG publishing

    Small free games that stretch boundaries.

    Any decent primers you can find covering dice probabilities.
  • A link to Game Chef. There's no substitute for actually doing it.
  • Unfortunately I think my probability class won't be out by then.
  • Definitely added many of those. I added Play with Intent, but I fear that Knutepunkt might be a little too much for the target audience. I also added the OSR Primer as food for thought.

    Link to Game Chef, including the game designs there, included. Participation in GameChef is indeed excellent.
  • Totally keeping an eye on this.
  • You could point to the curated list of articles from the KP books that Nick Wedig is going to put together.
  • This page is free, but the resources linked are not. Still, absolutely worth checking into: Jessica Hammer's Education of a Game Designer in Five Easy Pieces.

  • edited July 2013
    I would actually include some free games to show different kinds of styles of design. Perhaps Lady Blackbird, What Is A Roleplaying Game and some free OSR games.

    Theory of Fun by Raph Koster. Games are about learning patterns and fun is a emotion that comes from learning. Also, check out Theory of Fun - 10 Years Later.

    MDA lecture with Marc LeBlanc. About game dynamics, different sorts of uncertainties and designing for emergence.

    Tabletop: Analog Game Design by a lot of authors. Greg Costikyan is the one I recognize among the names. A lot of different articles about tabletop roleplaying games, and includes anything from using dice to create drama to improv.

    I really like Arvid Axbrink Cederholm's Flow ER model which makes Mihály Csíkszentmihályi's research about flow useful for roleplaying. Flow is when you're "in the moment" and the model also includes improv philosophy. I don't know if you want html pages on your DVD because I got heaps of those.

    Another example of a html page is Mark Rosewater's The Ten Principles for Good Design (part 1, part 2). Mark points out that there is not much difference in designing a building and designing a game. This is why I've been giving you links to game design outside roleplaying games.

    I would make a cardinal mistake if I didn't mentioned Bart Stewart's Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model. What's interesting is that he includes The Big Model and also adds a fourth style to the gamism, simulatorism and narrativism. He also mentions Bartley's player types, Caillois (patterns of play) and Lazzaro (four kinds of fun) which are names and ideas that are good to know about.
  • Good catches. I was planning on adding a number of games such as Lady Blackbird, Mythender and Old School Hack.

    I will indeed add the Theory of Fun downloads, and I had been desperately trying to hunt down the Flow ER model. Thank you!

    Love the links, thank you!
  • Read everything here (yes I know it's a lot, who said this was easy?):

    That's a Masters course curriculum in RPG design.
  • Yes, you are quite right. If nothing else, I will add the necessary link.
  • Does anyone else have other resources or links? Are there specific podcast episodes that would be ideal for that audience?
  • Some loose links from my side:

    Anydice and Troll for probability calculations.

    Dice-Rolling Mechanisms in RPGs (pdf) by Torben Mogensen, the creator of Troll.

    RPG Design Handbook. Haven't read it, but the chapters will tell you what it's about.

    Implicit Game Aesthetics. Different famous game designers' definitions of games. The language is pretty academic.

    Designing rewards in games

    Non-mechanical reward systems

    Different kinds of work

    Engagement: choice and competition
  • If the Knutepunkt books are too much, maybe you can arrange to include the recordings from the Nordic Larp Talks (or a selection thereof).
  • This is a little more on the production and publication side of things rather than straight up design, and a lot of it is UK focused, but this is the thread that brought me in to Story Games and is full of some super useful links. If any of the folks at the seminar are looking at starting design with eyes on becoming involved in the industry, it is sure to help (as it has helped me quite a bit).
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