Defining Awesome — Triple A (the story of KAG and Link-Dead)
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  • Triple A (the story of KAG and Link-Dead)

    Written by . Posted at 10:58 am on June 12th, 2011

    About 2 months ago I came to an important realization. Actually I don’t feel I thought of it, it sort of found me. These are game design principles. Universal and guaranteed to just work. The holy grail of game design.

    This isn’t anything new and I feel no ownership over the ideas. I did though, come to my own understanding of these principles and it changed how I perceive game making.

    It started because of my random interest in random stuff… I was reading about story development (as in writing stories) and I came across Ernest Hemingway’s theory called the Iceberg Theory. As I understand it, the writer in order to make a good story, should do the following thing: Only expose to the reader the amount of information he needs in order for him to enjoy and make sense of the story. This means it is not necessary to show and explain everything. For example the story “Old Man and the Sea” on the surface level (what is actually written) is about a fisherman struggling with a big fish. But what is actually going on in the readers mind is an epic struggle of the man himself, his age, weaknesses and the heartless forces of life & death.

    Next thing I learned about was Chekhov’s gun. This is a literary technique popularized by Russian short-story author Anton Chekhov. The technique states that no element in a story should be introduced if it is not used later in the story. Or in other words: everything that is in the story must have some use later on. The gun was actually mentioned early in the novel “Uncle Vanya”. It is mentioned as an insignificant prop. Later on however it is used as a key plot element as a homicide weapon.

    I could call merging these two techniques a Zen approach to writing. Meaning, there is nothing too much in the story. Everything fits in the story and has its use. And on the other hand there is nothing too less. There is always enough written so that your mind will make sense of the story and its flow.

    Paraphrasing with how Albert Einstein would say it:

    “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”.

    There is deep, deep knowledge in those words. Please don’t think I have now started writing, I don’t know how to write. I do know though how to apply this to game design.

    The next thing that lead me to my principles is an article that I have posted on this blog. It’s called Less Talk More Rock. I don’t think you should take this too literally (well, nothing should) but the bottom-line of the article is this. In any case you don’t have to use words or text, don’t use them and actually use the thing. Saying it another way: don’t write ‘rock’. Throw the rock and make it hurt!

    Again this is a Zen concept. If you would ask a Zen Master “what is reality?” he wouldn’t reply with any word. He might for example hit his gong: BOOIINNG!! Because nothing you say will represent reality, those are just words! Symbols in your head. Reality is the actual sound, physically going out of the gong and hitting your eardrums, and the experience of it.

    So the idea behind Less Talk More Rock is not to describe an experience to a player by (for example) writing text that introduces the player into the game world. Give him the actual experience instead. Hit the gong so that he hears it!

    The most brilliant use of this principle is how the game “Another World” starts. If you haven’t played it, go play it. Or watch a video. The intro does not have any text. Anyone, no matter what language he speaks, knows what is going on. It is a scientist, working on some top secret stuff getting blown out into a different planet. The game also seamlessly blends the intro with the actual start of player control (you must swim to the surface from underwater).

    Now this cannot be achieved without the use of 3 tools. These will be inventions, at least my understanding of general game design principles. The first tool I called Atoms. The second are Archetypes. Third is Anton’s gun.

    The Atom is a an atomic gameplay element. In “Another World” the Atom in the beginning is simply the possibility to swim left, right, up, down inside the water. When you get out you can run left or right and jump up. The movement here is atomic. Meaning you cannot divide this into simpler elements without losing something. Remember: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”. So we could for example take out a dimension from the games movement and make the character only walk left or right. But that wouldn’t actually feel enjoyable because we ourselves do not move like that. That is too simple. We move in 3 dimensions. So left/right + jumping just feels right.

    So an Atom is an indivisible gameplay mechanic that feels just right. Most 80’s classics are solely based on this principle. Actually those games invented it. Every other game in the future (every successful game) just copies those elements, mixes them differently and wraps them in different packaging.


    Can Pong be any simpler? Can it be more complicated? Yes it can be, but will that make the game any better, more fun? Never. Expanding the Atom never works. Meaning, it is never significantly better. Only adding another Atom and joining it with another would make the game better. So I will deliberate that adding a second ball to Pong would not make the game better. Because that is the same mechanic of bouncing the ball just more complicated. But introducing a new Atom like for example a block that can be destroyed will make it a totally different, much more fun experience. This way we just invented the game Breakout.

    How do you make Breakout better? For example adding another dimension and calling it Breakout 3D? That is an actual game and it is not significantly better than Breakout in my opinion. 3D is just complicating stuff not making it more fun. Instead of expanding the gameplay element you add a new atomic one. For example you add blocks that go at you and hurt you. These are enemies. The rest is just the map boundaries. We now have 3 Atoms:
    1. Movement
    2. Shooting balls
    3. Destroying/Escaping enemies

    What game might this be? For example River Raid.
    River Raid

    Other Atoms we can build with are: Hitting stuff; Chasing/Running away; Physics rules; Dialogs; Crafting objects; Unlock puzzles (as in find key to open door) and so on.

    This is as good as it gets. You can’t reinvent the wheel. Having 2-4 elements like this is sufficient to have a hit game. If you start adding more you risk not having a clear Atom and players will be confused and not enjoy the game. 80’s games and today’s casual games rely solely on 1 Atom. Most super commercial games (like Farmville) rely on 1 to reach the largest audience.

    Exercise: What are the Atoms in Soldat?

    The next thing I want to explain are Archetypes. This has to do with the wiring of our brains (something Carl Jung found out about). I have a different game design twist on this.

    We humans enjoy immensely models. We love to play with models. Actually playing and interacting with models is the same thing. What I mean by models is stuff that represents reality. Every toy you had as a child was a model of something in the real adult world. Lego blocks are basic construction elements. They represent real building construction blocks. Yet children do not play with the real thing. It simply wouldn’t be fun. Our brains are wired to derive pleasure from interacting with simple models.

    When I thought about this I arrived at the following conclusion. The more something is realistic, the less it is like a model. Hence it is less fun. Why did I have immense satisfaction playing the game Airborne Ranger where the player was about 11 pixels and all you could do is move up and shoot? Whereas I play a Modern War-type of game where every detail is simulated and my only reaction is blehh, yawn.

    I think the actual enjoyment is created in the mind. Simply your mind adds elements that are not there and it creates the game in your imagination. And your imagination is far better than any game graphics and physics realism could ever be. When I look at the 11 pixel soldier my brain knows it looks like shit, so instead of thinking about it in real terms it thinks about it in terms of a model it is playing with.

    Realistic looking games start a process in my head where my brain is fooled that it is reality. So I begin interacting with the game as if it was real:
    – I test the boundaries.
    – I try to kill a civilian.
    – A text appears I cannot shoot civilians.
    – I get mad because I got fooled thinking this is reality.
    – I proceed to Control Panel to uninstall the game.

    How do you create an Archetype? It is not a matter of limiting the amount pixels. Remember: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”. There is no need for a lot of pixels and high polycount but at the same time there must be enough pixels so that you know it is a soldier.

    Also the Archetype must be something that your brain can associate with. Either in the real world around you or from your childhood memories. A soldier is an archetype because you’ve watched many movies about them. When you see a couple pixels with a gun you know what it is. You know what to expect from it. It should run and shoot. If the soldier does not run and shoot and instead has conversations when FIRE is pressed you get confused and you delete the game.

    An Archetype must behave as you expect the thing it represents to behave. An Archer shoots arrows. A Knight strikes his sword. A Mage casts a spell. A Goblin attacks you. A Car drives. A Machine Gun shoots. A bigger Machine Gun shoots more powerfully. A Platform is jumpable. A Ladder lets you walk up and down. Again most 80’s games are made entirely out of Archetypes.

    80’s games are also built using the Chekhov’s gun technique. In Anton Chekhov’s words:

    “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

    Think of Manic Miner.
    Manic Miner

    No element in there is not of some use. There are no decorations or things to set you in the “mood”. It has platforms, ladders and stuff that kills you. There is no element there to confuse you. You cannot break a boundary of a game like this because everything in it works as it should. In a modern game there might be a ladder but it is just a prop made by the map artist. You cannot walk on it. Why is it there? So that it can look cool on a screenshot. But the actual gameplay experience is just frustration when you see there is an invisible collision box around it.

    Everything in a game should resemble and behave like the thing it represents. Those are my Archetypes.

    If the element in the game has no use to the player it is redundant. That is Anton’s Gun (cheap way of making an acronym AAA).

    Anton’s Guns

    Now if you understand my ramblings and you’ve played or read about my plans about Link-Dead you will see that something does not fit here. A friend of mine when he played LD, always complained about the guns because he did not know anything about them (because they look like sci-fi weapons or some technology mash). He insisted I add standard guns (like an M14 or AK47). I thought he just needs to read the gun descriptions or fire it a couple times to get it. I gave up one day and introduced an AK for the Wasteminer faction. I had to admit this gun was much more fun to use than the others. I have no idea why because the parameters of the gun where exactly the same as the sci-fi one. But it just felt right. I knew what to expect from it. An AK is an AK. And that is how it works and you cannot bypass it. In order to have fun out of a model (which a game is) you need to know what to expect from it. Like a block in Minecraft, it’s cubic and you can put one on top of another. Nobody expects anything more and nothing less.

    Movement is something I have been forever working on in Link-Dead. I just couldn’t get it quite right. There was always someone complaining that there is something wrong about it. But the hundreds of people that played it, noon could tell me exactly what it is. I made parkour movements with awesome animation. When I was making it I had great fun. I am really proud of this movement system. No other game has this and on specially built maps it is really fun to move. Yet when played on maps in multiplayer suddenly that enjoyment was lost. It wasn’t bad it just, with added shooting and other things, wasn’t as fun as just jumping around.

    Only later after discovering these principles that I am writing here about I know what is wrong. The movement itself in Link-Dead is actually 2 or even 3 Atoms. And 2-3 Atoms could be a game in itself! I could actually strip everything down from Link-Dead and make a parkour only game without any shooting and it probably would have been more successful than it is now.

    The next blow came after playing Ace of Spades. Someone posted in on the LD forums and I spent half night playing it. I haven’t done that for years. I was missing something. This game is fucking ugly and it is as simple as Manic Miner. What the hell? Now I knew for sure I have not simply grown out of enjoying games. The kid that enjoyed playing Doom for hours is still inside me. The same games are not here! I remember browsing through Ben’s blog (AoS creator) and people were bashing each other about Green Team’s superiority over Blue Team’s and drawing comics about the epic struggle between Green and Blue. It actually reminded me of what was going on with Soldat Red vs. Blue. And I remember thinking why the fuck am I trying to invent 2 super teams, with awesome looks and an epic storyline behind them when all you have to do is draw a blue guy and a green guy and leave the rest to the players imagination. People don’t need stories fed to them, they enjoy making them up by themselves!

    I think at this point I realized I cannot continue working on Link-Dead. The fact is the games design is flawed. I have made an error. I assumed that the more stuff I add to the game the better it will be. The more detail the map will have the better atmosphere it will have. The more stuff you can do the better it will be. There are easily 10 or more Atoms/gameplay elements in Link-Dead that are there or I have planned. Heck, the hacker mini-game is a game in itself! It could easily be a hit casual game.

    The problem is, so much stuff to do just confuses players. To the point they cannot state clearly what they think about a simple thing like the soldiers movement. I’ve made Prince of Persia + Soldat + Deus Ex + Thieve + Operation Flashpoint. Stacking games on top of each other just won’t work. All those games where successful because they relied on 2-3 atomic gameplay elements. PoP’s movement is a game in itself, whereas in LD it is “just” moving around. Soldat has:
    1. Running/Jumping
    2. Shooting
    3. Flying
    4. Grabbing stuff

    This is very sad for me to say because I really tried hard, but if Link-Dead will ever appeal to a wider audience it should have at most those 4 elements. More simply won’t work. So not to make it Soldat 2 I would have to take some elements that are interesting in LD and base the whole game around it. For example:
    1. Darkness + Flashlights
    2. Traps
    3. Killing
    4. Simple movement

    That’s all. No mech’s, no hacking, no doors, no scanners, no inventory. I have absolutely no faith now that it could work any other way. This is because I have tested my design principles.

    When I realized AAA I just grabbed a piece of paper and started sketching the first game I could think of using the Principles. It turned out to be a social ant-type war simulator. It was a 2 team multiplayer game. It happens underground. Little people spawn out of eggs. You can pick 3 classes: a Digger, a Ladder guy and a Soldier which throws black balls. The purpose of the game is to cooperate with the other players to dig to the other teams base and steal their eggs. The eggs have to be brought back and given to the “King” so that he can eat them. There is no text in this game and I intended never to be any. The whole purpose of the game would be revealed by the King shouting at everyone, with a bubble icon representing that he want to eat eggs!

    I called it Warmonger. I made a video of the game because I don’t have time to wrap it up and put for download:

    I never played this game with anyone. The people you see in the game are bots. The AI is actually quite good. The diggers dig tunnels and when they can’t go up they request a ladder. Ladder people come and build ladders and so they go forward. They don’t dig blindly but find the fastest route across the map.

    But what the hell am I talking about!? This isn’t the game that is right now on every gaming news website and which some guys tracked down me as being the author of the game.

    I made Warmonger in 72 hours. I set a deadline like that. I wanted to work fast, just test out the idea. After that I was hungry for more. So again I sat with a pen and paper and this time I sketched another multiplayer game. This time I set the deadline for 2 weeks. I stopped posting on my blog. Didn’t tell anybody what I was doing, even my relatives and friends and just worked on this game. After 3-4 days I had the game more or less working and I knew I had something going on. I posted anonymously on a pixel artist forum and pitched my idea.

    I pitched the game as a remake of this game:
    King Arthur's World

    An old SNES 2D RTS King Arthur’s World. One lucky pixel artist that goes by the handle Geti thought it’s a nice idea. He didn’t know what he was up for or who he was going to work with. I think I met the deadline of 2 weeks and the game went live on game developer forums. Anonymously. I did the same back in 2002 with Soldat. Now what happened from that point is a story of its own and I will write about it someday.

    The reason I published the game by a different nick is that I wanted people to look at it with a fresh eye. Not associate it with Soldat or Link-Dead. I think a big problem with LD is that people can’t be honest with me. Nobody can tell me, look MM this sucks, do it again. That wouldn’t be honest also, because the game doesn’t suck. There are elements in it that are actually awesome so… I don’t know. I posted anonymously just to see what people say without any expectations.

    During the last month King Arthur’s Gold got a huge crowd from Reddit and then every news site that has interest in indie games wrote about it.

    Indie Games

    PC Gamer




    This never happened with LD. Only TIGSource is a stable fan and writes LD news. But this is not what depresses me most. The most depressing thing about LD is that nobody ever pirated it. And that is probably the single most telling fact about the game. Everything that is awesome gets pirated. And it’s not the security because there is none.

    If you look at the KAG dev blog you will see that I am quite busy working on the game. And I will be in the nearest future, people really enjoy it and I want to give them more. I am not working on Link-Dead anymore. If I return to it, it will be a different game or I will work on it as a 2D technology show case. The map editor and the bump mapping and lighting are an impressive technology that nobody has. I want to make use of it.

    Unfortunately we now live in an age where nobody cares about that. Pushing the limits of 2D graphics and tile mapped games doesn’t interest anybody other than a few die-hard fans and me. People are actually ecstatic about low-res pixel graphics (Minecraft). So until this fad dissipates I’m gonna join them. I see no point in fighting it.

    Many of you of course payed for Link-Dead or to be correct donated. You payed whatever you wanted for the game and you got a working/playable game. I think whatever price you gave it is fair for a 3 map, 14 weapon + map editor multiplayer game. You can still play it with your friends or try to gather some people for a match. However I totally understand you might want to get your money back. If that is the case, please write to me (mm (at) that you want a refund and I will give it back to you. You might also want a second option which is: you will get the next game of mine in the future for free. It most likely will be a full version of King Arthur’s Gold (if it becomes payable in some form). It is yours, as a thank you for helping me survive and have food to eat for the last couple months.

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    1. Clive Jericho

      Great post. This is exactly what I feel is wrong with games these days. The few games I actually have kept my interest in have had few main points, but executed them perfectly.

      I enjoyed LD as it was, and you can keep my money even for nothing but this excellant blog post.

    2. The minimalist game architecture of R is exactly what made it that great. You came back to that spirit and now you understand it’s source. Good luck with KAG!

    3. sentroy

      It’s sad to see LD go (even if you just put it on hold).
      I, for one, still believe in a better future for 2D games.

      I really thought you would bring us a good step forward on that.
      Rapscallion is another game that’s got a nice feel and gameplay, but it’s no Link-Dead :/

      But you are right, people are not ready. Makes me sad :(

      Well, good luck on KAG.

    4. FinDude

      The game is dead as brick. Period.
      Even the master server.

      KAG fails to stay interesting any longer than Minecraft did.

      But that’s just my opinion, and it sure as hell doesn’t matter when it’s about making a game that people actually play, and by extension, pay for.

      L-D simply was something very close to that dream game of mine.
      Only if I even knew what a header file is for.

    5. “The most depressing thing about LD is that nobody ever pirated it.”
      not true, type in google, first link 😉

    6. ighagiea

      My favorite game ever is R, followed closely by Soldat, which I’ve played more than any other game, so I’m glad you’re returning to a similar graphical style. Simple and accessible, able to run on any computer, not limiting your users to those with top of the line hardware, is the way to go. Link Dead looked awesome, but my computer could never run it at a decent framerate. With KAG I get a solid 30 FPS. Good luck expanding on the game, I can’t wait to see what it becomes and actually be able to play it as it progresses too.

    7. 7 angles with 7 plagues

      To be honest I’m quite sad about link-dead. You’ve put all your effort into this game once, than you burned it down saying “it’s shit –> Rewrite” and you did, with lots of effort, with lots of bloging about this upcoming mindblowing game and again, you SAY you failed. BEFORE you even reached you goal.

      They say a man doesn’t lose when he gets defeated, but when he quits. This is somewhat true.

      Personally I’m a bit tired of all this multiplayer style games. Basicly everything is Dota or SC:Source, or WoW with different design and names. I was hoping for something new, and watched Link-Dead evolve, and I still think it should be finished, or at least continued because the only problem I see here is that you put the stakes too high, and you realized that succes won’t come anytime soon, witch made you belive you’ll never achive it. Thus you feel you should send all you dedication, ideas, hard work down the drain and go with something easy like KAG (again, I it’s a cool game too).

      As far as I see the world, there are different points of views how things should go. Non of them are perfect. But if you choose one, you should stick to it, no matter what, cause when you change it, another point of view could make you belive that you were and are on the wrong path, and you’ll end up throwing away everything you accomplished just because it doesn’t fits your current point of view. This mainly occurs when self doubt gets envovled: “What if I’m wrong? What if I never reach my goal? What if…what if…what if…and the community…and the gaming industry…bla bla bla and so on.”. Did u had these questions when you started working on link-dead? No, you said you’ll create an awesome game and that I will play your game (You especially said that to me) and you programmed. And things started to evolve, the graphics, the gameplay elements and stuff, something new with familiar things were getting in shape.

      I personally think that this process should continue. With YOUR ORIGINAL ideas. I belive less thinking about consecvences, and more on how to take the next step in development gets you on your way.

      I wouldn’t mind a game that requires thinking and learning cause it’s more complex than you’re avrage “shoot them in the ass and run before you get shot in the ass” game. Peronally I think it would be a new genre. Witch would be a bang. And you could achive that.

      This is of course MY point of view.

    8. hahahaha, bye.

    9. Arrr, I be embarassed to say, but I gave me pirate friends part of the LD booty. Didn’t want to upset, but kno’ it ‘as been pirated alright.



      never played(i dont play anything) but have seem some niec vids on YT

    11. The game is dead as brick. Period.
      Even the master server.

      I just managed to turn the master on again :).

      ighagiea: My favorite game ever is R, followed closely by Soldat
      Didn’t expect that, thank you very much sir.

      7 angles with 7 plagues:
      Non of them are perfect. But if you choose one, you should stick to it, no matter what,
      what’s the difference between blind faith and stupidity?

      I personally think that this process should continue. With YOUR ORIGINAL ideas.

      Let me tell you my ORIGINAL IDEA. It is just a picture I had. I didn’t call it Link-Dead but Grunts. It was just a team of soldiers in a destroyed building. It was nothing fancy. Just Soldat with more detailed graphics, more gravity and nice animations like the ones in LD. I think that would work perfectly.

    12. 7 angles with 7 plagues

      “what’s the difference between blind faith and stupidity?”

      First may get you somewhere, (like a pioneer) the other makes you puppet of society, incapable of self-made decisions, wich may lead you nowhere, cause others will tell you what to do.

      What I ment by original idea, is the hacking, the complex combat system etc. Yeah, Prince of Persia + Soldat + Deus Ex + Thief + Operation Flashpoint might be a bit far far away. But you’ve seemed to comprehend every obstacle very nicely and built Link-Dead step by step quite nicely. It has faith and it’s not blind. Ppl even donated for it.

      Judging by Soldat (Wich I also play it to THIS DAY and LIKE IT) and Kag, you are capable of making LD a hit memorable game. Just like this, one step at a time. Did programers even cared about how they creation will be playable, when they Programmed Turrican, and the sequel, or imposibble Mission, or Last Ninja, lated DOOM, GTA, etc. I don’t think so. Most of them was self experimenting. Let’s see how it goes. And it worked.

      Again, it’s my opinion on things, you have yours, and the decision is also yours.

    13. matagyula

      Nicely written, good reading. One thing came to my mind though – isnt it possible that Link-Dead didnt get as much attention as KAG because it was never available freely in the first place? Will you make it now freely available?

      Soldat has been a game I played for many many years and there really arent many like it out there, and so I wish you good luck with KAG, hope you will make it into something at least as good as Soldat was back in the day!

    14. SonOfBeer

      Link-Dead’s technology is awesome, the movement mechanics rule, and leaving it on standby, even for years, wouldn’t change that. I’m sure you will make use of it someday, and leaving it for KAG’s design will keep your ideas fresh.

      Link-Dead’s mechanics are so unbelievable and advanced, I do not blame you for struggling with the design. It’s as if you had created Starcraft’s engine and now needed to think of the game mode (victory condition), invent the units (guns/tools), balance the teams, create campaigns, maps, storyline. For it to finally be a whole experience that attracts a lot of gamers.

      I wouldn’t expect a single man to create what you did and know exactly where to go with it instantly. I consider your work on Link-Dead a huge success, it’s the first phase of something greater. Link-Dead is the foundation of what may become someday, the ultimate side-view experience. And I will be waiting with all the patience it deserves.

    15. ighagiea

      You should do a Valve sort of thing. They use Team Fortress 2 to experiment, to do stuff like gauge user reaction to different features. Why not make KAG the experiment, and have Link Dead be the magnum opus?

    16. Reactorcore

      @MM: “The next blow came after playing Ace of Spades. Someone posted in on the LD forums and I spent half night playing it.”

      lmao, that was me.

      What I find really funny about it, is that people on that thread jokingly said about you stopping development of LD if you play Ace of Spades. I know that alone didn’t cause it, but it did give a push you to realize the AAA thing. I’m actually proud of both you and myself for achieving this.

      Also, for your future games you make, there is one more important thing you need to keep in mind: CONSISTENCY.

      In short, dont bullshit the player.
      Dont lie to the player.

      Make the world act as it would logically/believable work. This is very important for a game to be liked and enjoyed. Why? Because when everything works as it was advertised and there is no unexplainable illogical crap or lies, the players will be happy, because they can trust the game for being fair.

      What I mean is the same thing you said about ladders in this blog post. It is there, but you cant use it. Don’t do that mistake.

    17. SonOfBeer

      Link-Dead was fun, but its mechanics were AMAZING.

      Those mechanics deserve a break, they will only come back stronger. Overworking on the ultimate game (that’s how I see it) could spoil it.

      As a game designer you often get confused, you don’t want to rush a project because you love it so much. But you keep working anyways because you can’t just hold on to perfection.
      So you keep this huge love only for your greatest visions, and rush carelessly on a simpler project.

      Link-Dead… was just the beginning of a great vision.

    18. Underline

      Well.. =/ nothing to say.

    19. oh shit! MM i know that you maybe don’t read this, but i want say.

      Link-Dead is the coolest game i ever played and i enjoy it with my friends, but one thing you forget!! it is teamwork i try to play with my friend and we kill each other so many times!!! in KAG you do it perfectly. The knight stand with the shield and archer shoot from his back! and it is simple! and you forgot in Link-Dead….

      This is only one thing that kills me in LD. Everything else was perfect! Movement, shooting, fighting! It all was simple and fun!

      You can get every atoms in one complex structure and it will be awesome, because when you playing with it, you can interact with every atoms in that structure, like in WoW, there are, raids, arenas, professions, and many other interesting things.

      You give up too early. You must grow up and do something more complex and great than Soldat or KAG.

    20. I think thats a good step, I only played Link Dead two or maybe three times and I didnt liked it. The controles where just weird and I couldnt figure them out also as you said the whole sci-fi weapons kinda threw me off. Also the slow gameplay just bored me.

    21. Well you actually put too much effor and ideas in LD.
      It was really hard to get along with the game.
      I dont know if you remember my post on the ld forums where i said “playing a game shouldn´t require studying” – THIS was actually the thing i wanted to poin out which may cause problems like we / you got now.

      But you made your decission and i respect it kind of.
      Sure its hard to canel/abort the development of a game you have spent several years on but i guess you hopefully will have a touch with it in well lets say some month..
      I hope you will have good luck with KAG, and as it´s now its rly. fun. You know why ? Cause it is kinda easy.
      You can download click 2 buttons and play. Left click right click + WASD. Dont mess it up with tons of ideas. Just improve the existing ones (by adding new blocks, weapons, whatever )

      For the future I´d like to see some Soldat2 based on ld enginge.
      If you made this my entirely life dream comes true :)

    22. kagesha

      all you need to know is beserker is the key to your success!

    23. That surely is one interesting blogpost.
      I do agree that Link-Dead always bugged me somehow. It never felt “right” to me. I don’t know if it’s the player-movement or the complexity.
      And I’m actually quite happy with your decision to continue your work on KAG now since it really is a fun game.

      It’s Soldat which I play daily. And I’m quite happy to add Ace of Spades and King Arthur’s Gold to my daily dose of playing computer games for some more variety. :)

    24. Great article MM. It’s funny though that there are some things that are very similar to what I’ve thought of and that there are somethings that are already known. Perhaps the game design community needs a single main lexicon for all these ideas, facts, philosophies, theories, etc.

      My partner and I dream of starting a large project – not some simple casual game, but something that we could truly pour our creativity into. One of my ultimate loves in life is nature and it saddens me that so many people live crammed in disgusting cities and craphole little towns when they could be out in the country on an acreage living like kings/queens surrounded by rolling hills, forests, fields, etc. I had an idea for one concept, which not surprisingly also has a bit of building in it. That game itself has no text or speech in it. It starts with a little person on top of a hill under a large tree. The player is then free to transform the world into whatever they want. In short it’s just basically a simple 2d simulation of a natural world. If you go down the hill on one side you enter a forest that’s inhabited by creatures that you can play little games like hide and seek with and may also be inhabited by other players. The forest would act like a multiplayer area. Just like in Kag for instance, you could all get together and do things like play an instrument and make music, or dance or build things. It’s more of a simulation than a game, but it could be a way of giving someone their own personal bit of artificial nature/natural space.

      As for this:
      “I think the actual enjoyment is created in the mind. Simply your mind adds elements that are not there and it creates the game in your imagination. And your imagination is far better than any game graphics and physics realism could ever be. When I look at the 11 pixel soldier my brain knows it looks like shit, so instead of thinking about it in real terms it thinks about it in terms of a model it is playing with. ”

      This is known (though I’m not in anyway implying that you should have known that.. it is a nice feeling when you discover it on your own). Mare and Raigan who did N applied this philosophy. I’ve tried this as well (one example: the little space miners are also 11 pixel high characters XD ) and this is why I’m still a huge fan of very old school video games such as Adventure for the atari 2600. The graphics totally look like shit, but it is fun as all hell. I love chasing the dragons with the spear. And even though it looks like some blocky images a 5 year old cut out of coloured paper, the game still has the feel of a medieval dungeon adventure game.

      As for Link-Dead, it is a good game. I’d say it was definitely worth all the effort. Even if the gameplay itself is not as fun as you had originally thought it would be, it does have unique innovations that don’t exist in other 2d games and so you have a working engine, with multiplayer that has a bunch of cool technologies in it. This gives you a base to build all kinds of cool 2d games with it. I would also recommend that it be the engine for Soldat 2 as well. Soldat 2 can be the exact same game as Soldat 1, but perhaps just with higher res graphics.. if you’d like.

      You also have your experience with LD to compare to when you are designing new games from here on in. You might not have realized or learned about what you posted had you not done all that work.

      Anyway, I’ll finish with KAG is fucking awesome and both my partner and I are addicted. I’ve also been amazed at how a huge team of people will sometimes cooperate and work well together without saying a word at all. A couple of nights ago, I was on a server on red team, we had good defense, a huge gorgeous keep with an intricate maze to get to the vault and the team was split into the right amount of people mining, building, and defending. It was impressive and something I never expected to see happen in a multiplayer game. Good work and thanks for making this game. You are definitely becoming a gifted game designer/maker.

    25. Oh and I forgot, since I mentioned Mare and Raigan. I was chatting with them once and we all game to a simple conclusion. If you are creating a game and you want to focus on fun. Sometimes it’s best to set a bunch of restrictions first. You already did this with Warmonger. You take out the pen and paper and limit yourself to just simple shapes and say you pretend like you’re designing the game for an old 8 bit console like the Atari 2600 or the NES. So you have memory constraints, graphical limitations and even audio limitations. This forces you to only focus on what is important in the game to convey what the game is about. Say it’s a game set in space. Given your extreme limitations, what would be the key elements required in the game to first make it look like a Space themed game? Second, what’s going to make it fun? Well you have your given elements: Stars, a spaceship, astronaut. Then what? A moon, aliens, weapons, etc?

      They also said that sometimes the best way to design if you want to focus on fun or quality is to sit in an empty room with a single table, blank paper and a pencil.. then start designing something from absolute scratch. Obviously you start making a game that is similar to others that exist: platformer, fps, rts, etc, etc, however for the moment, you’re not distracted by any other influence and anything is possible.

    26. DorkeyDear

      I love KAG. But I also LD and don’t want to see all that great potential go to waste; although I must say, it does need work before it becomes a real game. I’ll keep my message simple and clear: I hope you return to Link-Dead one day, whether it be 3 months, a year, or longer. I’m sure by then, things will change though, and thoughts on Link-Dead may change.

      Link-Dead could be changed to a totally different game in style (more modern known weapons and equipment), but be exactly the same game in gameplay etc. (like with the AK example).

    27. Great article as always, you sure do think a lot about game design.

      I loved R, Soldat and KAG but did not enjoy LD quite as much. It still had some flaws, and for personnal reasons did not like how it turned out in a stealth game.
      However, the vision of the final game kept me dreaming. I understand the challenge of blending all those gameplays together, resulting in a not so user-friendly game, but it sure had infinite potential.

      I feel the same way about KAG being a dream game and it’s simplicity feel so right. The warrior, archer and worker flows together perfectly.

      The problem I see is that it yet doesn’t have enough deepness to be a classic like Soldat or what LD could be.

      KAG might still be a bit too simple. I want to be able to improve at a game and have my own style. Looking at soldat’s movements alone could be mastered at a pretty high level. I had to pick a weapon/secondary because it was impossible to master them all.

      In KAG I don’t feel like I can specialize in a class and customize my style. I just pick the class my team need at this moment, but they are still too basic to master and quickly feel very repetitive. The unability to play the game at a competitive level in public games makes the game very frustrating.
      The late games lack of any strategic possibilities, mining seem to be the best strategy, and the games are too chaotic to raid effectively or switch strategies.

      The bad players mine and build oversized shelters while good players rush and build offencive structures. That works fine, but it end up in a weird mix of player styles making the game objectives feel pointless.
      I’m afraid that the casual minecraft-style players get bored
      of getting their creations reset while the hardcore players will get bored of playing with them casual folks.

      The game just goes through the surface of creativity, competivity and grinding but doesn’t dig any deeper until people start to organize private games or more features are added. KAG attracts a wider audience than the usual hardcore gamer community of soldat and Link Dead, but doesn’t yet have
      the long-term replayability I’m looking for. No matter how insanely addictive it was on the first 2-3 sessions, I am now bored of it.

      Games should be made as simple as possible, but not simple. My point is that KAG is the perfect casual game, but not yet the perfect game.
      I do agree with everything in the article, but sometimes the challenge of going against some of those design principles might be what leads to games that last through years.

      I love KAG, but unless it get some complexity, I’d rather see this design illumination shine through a make-over of Link Dead.

    28. When you give up on KAG you’re post is going to have to be double the length of this one, MM.

    29. Kaps say’s it perfectly.

      “I do agree with everything in the article, but sometimes the challenge of going against some of those design principles might be what leads to games that last through years.” SERIOUSLY :)

      “I love KAG, but unless it get some complexity, I’d rather see this design illumination shine through a make-over of Link Dead.”


      I’d like to add:
      Link dead was a hardcore gamer’s game. You really cant compare its success by looking at how many player’s are on the server.

      Also, KAG is a free and widely announced game while link dead cost money and his only known by a few.

      PLEASE MM: Has a final act of charity and for the sake of link dead. Release the a free version and send the old trailer to major gaming sites.

    30. making it free for the time you dont code on it would be a way that SOMEHOW a community could be built.
      I would appreciate.

    31. Very interesting read!
      I was never really attracted by Link-Dead’s design. I think during development you forgot who you were designing this game for. You seemed to design the game really intuitive, trying to create the game of your dreams rather from design. Overtime the game became more complex which was only increasing the learning curve without making the game any more FUN!

      It was interesting to see how you developed the engine. I really liked the movement and I think the smoke in combination with the lighting is amazing! However art wise it was really disappointing.

      It is nice to see you took a step back and at the same time made a giant leap forward. I wish you good luck on KAG. I will be following the blog!

    32. I donated to you; but won’t be asking for the money back – keep it its fine :)

      I’ve only played LD once for 5 minutes anyway (and for $50!).

      Have you considered making Soldat 2 instead with your new engine?

      IE; keep the basic Soldat game (which is/was successful?) and just make a new version with nicer graphics and perhaps a few changes *shrug*

      1/3 stays the same, 1/3 is improved, 1/3 is new

    33. archont

      Meh, another ambitious project bites the dust.

      The problem never is “too many atoms”. Never ever.

      The actual problems underneath are:

      1) The interactions between atoms
      Running/Jumping, Shooting, Flying, Grabbing. Notice how each atom is tied to every other. Shooting while flying will decrease accuracy. Running/Jumping is essential for inertia management and thus flying. Grabbing affects flying and running. Everything affects everything. Even though they’re atoms they aren’t swappable components. Running/Jumping+Flying (on Soldat’s example) is more than the sum of Running/Jumping and Flying.

      A game can have really a LOT of atoms, provided those atoms are grouped into mutually interactive groups. For example Star Control 2 or Space Rangers 2.

      A game that has a fuckton of atoms in one “grid” and within one gameplay mechanic will be harder to grasp and harder to balance.

      Also if you have this many gameplay elements then not all of them will be interacting. Interactions need to be clearly defined.

      2) Accessibility
      More atoms = complex
      Less atoms = simpler

      Simpler games are more accessible. A game of 4 atoms is easy to understand by an average person. The complex relationship of a game like LD is hard to understand at first.

      This doesn’t mean a player can’t play a game that has a complex lattice of gameplay atoms – he/she just needs to be introduced to them gradually so that it feels like fun and not overwhelming.

    34. I actually had high hopes for Link-Dead. When ever I found a game going I had major fun with it. I think the biggest reason for lack of popularity is that it’s not free. If you can pay what you want then anyone who would normally put it up for torrent and share would not see reason for that (The game is damn cheap but cheap is what keeps out people without enough age for paypal or bank account)
      I am honest when I claim that I had expected with some changes to the game concept to turn the game into potential eSport.
      If you would like to make the game master piece here are my ideas:
      1) Make just red vs. blue with no differences in sides.
      2) Make the game rotate around buildings that provide better equipment.
      3) Make sure that there are enough elements to plan strategy with. Such as scouting, early rush, turtle etc.
      4) Keep game open. possibly plan for later business ideas but nothing that would effect actual game play. Appearence (like in soldat, It’s better to have more people who if like the game will donate and get something neat back from that)
      5) Prepare for anti-cheat to ensure the game is not crushed by griefing cheaters.

      For building thing. Make initial weapons melee (pickaxe?) This makes early rush stupid all, out that more often fails than not.
      Make spawning limited to a destructible spawn points so counter-attack works better than just turtling.
      Make the building something occupy the player’s time.
      Have the information about what enemy is building matter. If enemy builds something that enables cloaking devices then have your team be able to counter that by having the information before they have chance to use it. If in turn it’s suicide bombing then make sure you have something that keeps enemy trapped (force fields?) and be able to take ’em out from distance. More unique content gives more available strategies.

      I have to admit I’ve been watching StarCraft 2 as eSports but I’ve never actually played the game. I just yesterday was watching SHOUTCRAFT Invitational tournament live and I could bet that at least quarter of the over 20000 viewers don’t even own SC2.
      The reason It’s loved as eSport is because they love to see game with so much depth that there are countless strategies. Just read all descriptions of units of any side and you can already see so many strategies you could use. Even more come into your mind when you actually play the game and learn to use environment.
      I think LD could get very much the same popularity if it tried to go from tactical shooter into something that requires orchestrated team to be “pro” level of play. But it should remain simple enough for random team to have fun.
      Another thing that I find fun in LD is the movement. I have so much fun in urban terror to use my skill at moving player faster than others behind enemy lines and take out snipers early in the game or surprise the frontal players with good old knife in the back. If LD can keep the fun of being able to improve as a player and as team along with strategy elements of RTS then I would have my mind blown by awesomeness.
      Another game to be noted is Tremulous. That game has potential but is stuck due the game always ends up with humans with same damn structures. There is no point building two of same building (excluding turrets and spawns). There for scouting for information is useless. Also it has no resources so just waiting outside enemy base for easy kills has no strategic disadvantage. I think any game with strategy should always give advantage to players who are always doing something.

    35. Above post is basically what I’m wishing with KAG. Build orders, more classes/upgrade/buildings, scouting and basically RTS elements allowing an organized team to play the game at another level, and simply add diversity for the more casual servers with more players.

    36. Hmmm as much as I (and many other people) enjoy minimalistic games because they allow you to use your imagination, I know A LOT of people (including heaps of my friends) who are unimaginative people who always want things to be spoon fed to them and don’t use their imagination at all. They would always complain about how the graphics suck and theres nothing to the game etcetc (when talking about games such as minecraft and starcraft), and would rather play cod4 or something. You gotta realise there are still those people out there, who want everything fancy and polished, and do not want to use their imagination, lol. But hey I was really looking forward to link dead but thats cool hope you come up with something even better!

    37. I'll.Pay.With.Blood

      Even though simple is good, I think adding depth just makes it even better (if done properly). It’s like comparing MS Paint to Photoshop.

    38. BinaryPsycho

      LD Engine without fancy graphics config (wider audience) +
      Easy mod tools and multiplayer only +
      Small download footprint +
      Small well animated pixel soldiers +
      post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with traps +
      Red vs Blue scheme +
      Destructable (Small) Buildings +
      Mix and match melee/upgradable weapons +
      3 simple classes = Profit! or
      Soldat2 or whatever you may name it.

      Ah yeah, never forget nades, shotgun, flamer, machete and chainsaw at home, pretty please. =)

    39. BinaryPsycho

      Ah yea, forgot something. Blood and gibs never gets old.

    40. Underline

      MM… i just played LD again.. man, the game is so awesome that i cant believe you will stop working on it.. the movements are perfect.. nothing wrong with it, the aiming, shooting, weapons! i like every aspect of the game..
      If you think that the game is too complex, why don’t you cut features off and start working on it again??


    41. add a dev to ld ? he neednt make ld finish but could maybe make some small fixes and keep game a bit up to date and enjoyable.

      this would also make sure that a community could be built.
      or maybe even you MM could do some changes if you feel bored or whatever and the blood god calls you.

      For sure you should not just leave it as it is and only make it free , i think thats not rly. enough for a game in an alpha stage to grow a community ( alpha community ) just the feeling that there is someone who does a BIT would be great.


    42. I feel like your abandonment of this project is truly a shame. You created Soldat – thousands of people, myself included, had so much fun with it. Your games have an audience which YOU created – communities that formed around YOUR games. If you had released a free, “finished” version of LD, it WOULD have become a popular game. You abandoned it when only a few thousand people even knew it existed. Quit beating yourself up about perfect game design and release LD to the world. Let the players decide if the game deserves your attention. (it does!)

    43. I can second Craig.

    44. Monsteri

      Well, everybody have summed up pretty much what I wanted to say.

      btw: Send that eggs game please, it looks fun!

    45. I share your decision. You are rich of consciousness.

      Thats why i wrote an ascii-game-engine :)

    46. pineapple

      +1 soldat2

    47. I have to admit that LD was fun for me the first few games, but then I really got kind of bored by it. Also I was always getting angry because the game was always imbalanced. But the concept, the idea was really great.
      I didn’t play KAG, but it looks good. Work on it, but sometime in the future when it’s finished, return to LD and remake it into something better.

      Also it would be awesome if you had released the source code, you know. Someone would gladly add Linux and Mac support to it. And the engine has some nice features which I’m sure could be put to a great use 😉

    48. I second Craig too… Well said.

      Also second Underline. The game was a whole lot of FUN. Of course its not going to appeal to everybody, but thoses who like’s it, LOVE IT.

      Please, release some kind of free version. You have nothing to loose. If anything, it would attract more people to you and your projects.

      Link Dead is more then an awesome engine.

    49. You should just stick to Soldat, it has stayed alive for all these years whereas every other game you have made has died and will die after some time. Like someone already mentioned, KAG will be popular for a while, but after that while it becomes dull and boring and only a fistful of people will play it later. That’s not the case with Soldat and you should have realized it by now.

    50. @j: How you do know know that KAG won’t be as popular as Soldat?

    51. @illu:
      KAG could evolve into an amazing game, even bigger than soldat, but I’m afraid that to become big it will require a bunch of features and balancing, just like LD. It’s core atoms are still way more repetitive and limited than soldat. For now, it’s a competitive casual game, which blends two types of players.

      I will come back from time to time to check for updates, but
      the game already lost more than half of it’s players, and the remainings have a play style seriously boring me.

      As said above, Soldat already have built a community of strong gamers. It doesn’t mean they won’t like KAG, but the other ones might just go play Terraria once KAG charges anything.

      While the soldat/LD community loved to see their favorite game slowly evolve, maybe the people who got dragged to KAG at first from website articles will need more major updates to bring them back to the game instead of MM’s constant upgrading style.

      Just my feeling, I’m not saying it’s dead and I’m sure KAG will still actually end up popular with some time no matter it’s target audience. Just saying hardcore gamers might not hold long to it.

    52. i love the way of spilling all this fancy bullshit over the fact of wasting 4 years on LD to abandon it just before the release of something that could finally look like it was announced at first. After a few more months it could be a really good game. Without admitting it.
      the biggest flaw of this project was mm himself. no direction, no idea on what to do, adding random stuff and calling it being cool, total mess we all have seen. Even soldat after all this years is buggy and messy – it succeed because it is simple, free and modable, has physics based gameplay (as simple as they are)and online community. Apparently mm failed at making a more complex game, giving it even more mess. I respect him as a single developer but all the bullshit and wrong decisions he made cover that fact.
      i wondering how soon will u abandon KAG, hopefully, fot it’s gamers, not(?) (im totally not interested in that game cuz it’s pretty shitty imo, as i wrote earlier – retro-pixel-shit-minecraft wannabe), the heat is wearing off, i don’t see so many players playing it as before.. i dont wish you wrong but i’m really disappointed, i was interested in link dead cuz it cover a lot of ideas with my own, unfortunately they didn’t work too well in gonna miss visiting this site everyday and discussing with others about the newest in LD.

    53. @mmankt: I don’t think he wasted four years. He developed the LD engine which is now been used by KAG. KAG wouldn’t be able to build up so fast without that engine. He surely learned many things during that time including what mistakes he did.
      Stop being a naysayer.

    54. @mmankt: The biggest flaw was himself? That’s a bit stupid statement to say from a one man game. Try building an engine like this from scratch and see if you know what to do.

      @illu: +1

    55. SonOfBeer

      ROFL @ “mmankt” for his 100% nonsense
      How do you do it man? What do you sniff?

      “Soldat’s physics gameplay is simple” no?? Its actually very hardcore and unique mechs

      “No direction, adding random stuff”
      Go code your own game and lets see how much strong a design YOU can make.

      KAG is shit? retro pixels? Minecraft wannabe?
      I think theres an “awesomeness filter” in your clogged up shitbrains

      “i was interested in link dead cuz it cover a lot of ideas with my own”
      Yeah, that’s only because you’re some kind of degenerate mutant that pisses in his own mouth

      I think i can recall exactly what kind of person you are

      A RETARD

    56. If kotaku think this is cool:

      Think of how it would react to LINK DEAD !!!

    57. Yeah, other than Xbox port and Duke Nukem voice actor, this thingy doesn’t have anything to envy Link Dead. If they add freerunning movements and customizable grenades I might give it a shot, but now it’s just counterstrike in 2d…

    58. I totally agree with mmankt. And so i have to say before I go is the simple fact, that I wasn’t able to really test this game, due to simple fact, that there were no players at all. Sometimes i meet someone online, but there was FinDude cocksucker, who was simply impossible to kill. Fuck it.

    59. KAG is motherfucker’s shit.

    60. SonOfBeer

      we hear ya, pussy
      now dont come back

      KAG is surely better than any game you could compare it to
      With the proper game modes, any casual AND hardcore gamer might make it one of their long-term classic

      KAG’s icon is beside Soldat’s, on desktop 4ever

    61. Thank you very much for all your comments. I appreciate them all. Most are surprisingly positive and mature :).

      You should do a Valve sort of thing. They use Team Fortress 2 to experiment, to do stuff like gauge user reaction to different features. Why not make KAG the experiment, and have Link Dead be the magnum opus?

      That’s sort of what I am doing :). I wrote here that KAG is a test of these principles I discovered. I am trying to design it strictly with these principles in mind. If they work I can then do the same with Link-Dead ot anything else.

      “playing a game shouldn´t require studying” – THIS was actually the thing i wanted to poin out which may cause problems like we / you got now.

      I totally agree with this. I thought hard for months how to overcome this with Link-Dead and I still don’t have a good solution other than actually totally simplifying the game.

      Great article MM. It’s funny though that there are some things that are very similar to what I’ve thought of and that there are somethings that are already known. Perhaps the game design community needs a single main lexicon for all these ideas, facts, philosophies, theories, etc.

      Right! This stuff needs to be written down and followed religously! The Black Book of Game Design…

      Have you considered making Soldat 2 instead with your new engine?

      Sure it is possible, just not at the moment.

      Above post is basically what I’m wishing with KAG. Build orders, more classes/upgrade/buildings, scouting and basically RTS elements allowing an organized team to play the game at another level, and simply add diversity for the more casual servers with more players.

      This will happen. We already have concepts/drafts for this.
      I know KAG is simple at this point. But this game has barely 2 months! Imagine what it will be in 6 months or a year!

      If you think that the game is too complex, why don’t you cut features off and start working on it again??

      That’s the point of my article. I might do that one day.

    62. Blacksheepboy

      The soul has three capacities: appetite, intellect, and will. In Link-Dead, I think, there was a game that consciously tried to appeal to will..

    63. Blacksheepboy

      edit//addition: (at one point). Evidence might have been in one of your older entries

      It appeals to appetite because it’s fun for me. Intellect because the guns
      Will to win//knowledge each has 8 max dudes

    64. This is easily one of the most insightful posts on game design I’ve read in awhile.

    65. […] niestety to zdanie jest całkowicie prawdziwe. Michał Marcinkowski w tym poście na swoim blogu wyjaśnia dokładnie co przeważyło przy podejmowaniu tej […]

    66. snordliek

      I am sad to hear you have stopped development on link dead. I was interested in the game specifically for the complex features that you’ve now renounced.

      I respect your choice to define your design aesthetic as you see fit, but I think you’re over simplifying, and I think your philosophy is fundamentally regressive. Where do games like Arma, Dwarf Fortress, or GTA fit into your schema?

      Gta is a driving game, a story game, a shooting game etc, and it’s a compelling experience.

      Shadow of the colossus is a different game when you are climbing a beast than when you are running about the plains, and this is part of what makes it deep and engaging.

      SoTN is a platformer, an exploration, an rpg and a fighting game.

      In my opinion Genre mashups that incorporate many “atoms” are the future of gaming, at least for those of us that are looking to games for a deep, challenging and rewarding experience.

      Anyway, respect, good luck on your chosen path.

    67. Two points :

      – I admire your work and philosophy. You don’t hesitate to stop development on a game for another when you’ve lost the good vibes and been inspired by a new idea. Keep up such good work !

      – I personnally never been really as much attracted by LD than by Soldats or R. But I love the graphics and mechanics. And each time I see it I think about another game :
      You probably won’t be inspired by such a different gameplay but I want to tell you that your engine would make an awesome Another World-like game.
      I’ve got all those idea in my head : lateral view on an apartment bedroom, cops hammering on the door, fleeing by the window and then chase on the roofs…
      Anyway, if you come back on LD one day (I mean, WHEN you’ll come back) think about a more narrative gameplay, it could be a killer.

    68. TheLongestUsernameEver

      Well, uh, I actually pirated Link Dead (Yeah, let’s be honest now), founded the link on Demonoid months back. Guess you weren’t hyping it like Terraria or Minecraft and I’m sad that you won’t continue this project anymore, it’s a breakthrough.

    69. It’s funny how I reached the same conclusion after playing Ace of Spades, too. Ugly game, badly executed in most respects; well-loved.

      Soon after playing it I dropped my complicated fantasy village simulator(Magnate, can find it from my site) and aimed for something really simple. I didn’t get it right on the first try(a minigolf game with a course editor that would be fun to build in, but people focused on the golf and not the editor), so I’ve started over with a different game concept, still trying for an editor-centric feel. Going to try for a playable around the 15th.

      I think I’m honing in on the right theories for “fun/popular” game design now – at the very least, I’m going a lot faster as I try more and more to strip things down and let the elements suggest themselves, whether or not they’re conventional, where before I was very top-down and tried to force a set of features and dynamics upon the game(causing tons of technical challenges). My time-to-release cycles have gone from 8 months -> 6 months -> 2 months -> ?? (2 weeks?) as I follow this more and more, which is very heartening.

      I tried playing KAG recently. Had trouble getting into it. Usability issues…all solvable, though. I might try again sometime.

    70. Four years ago, I began playing Soldat with a fervor that I had experienced in no other game before.

      For the past few weeks, I found myself captivated by King Arthur’s Gold. I came in without any impressions or bias and found it to be easily one of the best games I have played in a while.

      Learning that you made KAG has cemented you as my favorite game developer.

      I bought Soldat and now I will definitely buy KAG in the future.

    71. This was inspirational.

    72. Hey, come on. I think you have just become a victim of a feeling of an artist which is admiring masterpiece of another artist how perfect it is and thinks that he will never do the same. But that’s a catch – there is no need to do the same for an artist – he must do something unique in his own way and to create something unique – not better or worse what other. There can exist multiple completely different masterpieces which rely on completely different rules and you will never say which one is better.

      I think that the rule of 3 atoms really makes sense here for 100% – cool features that can’t be used at gameplay only bring disappointment. But that just does not mean, that this puzzle can’t be solved in this concrete usecase – you only need to find the right solution which would fit bot to your ideas and to that objective rule of AAA – and this found balance would have huge value itself.

      Thinking on what was said above – especially on the part:

      >1. Darkness + Flashlights
      2. Traps
      3. Killing
      4. Simple movement
      >That’s all. No mech’s, no hacking, no doors, no scanners, no inventory. I have absolutely no faith now that it could work any other way. This is because I have tested my design principles.

      This is absolutely right – throwing away useless things is good when they are useless. But why not just making a set of different maps with almost completely different gameplay – on the 1st map mechs and parkour are useless, but on the 2nd one they are key features of tactics. And you can take take any 4 features from the pull, combine them on one map and throw away the others – like:
      – darkness+traps+killing+simple movement
      – mechs+hacking+doors+scanners
      – darkness+traps+doors+scanners
      – parkour+mechs+killing+traps

      etc. the perfect mech operator – the king of the 1st map would be killed in 3 seconds on the 2nd map by hacker or parkour professional.

      In this case the game will not be overblown with useless features and will not break the rule AAA, and will not loose all current concepts at the same time. Each map would be just like an answer the eternal question – who is stronger – Rembo or Terminator, Terminator or Superman, Superman or Batman, Terminator or Batman etc. – this could be quite a mess to see all those guys on the same ring, but watching 1-on-1 fight in any combination would be quite challenging.

      I just hope you will somehow think all those things over again and would return to Link-Dead with this or some other concept which would solve the stated problems in some way – it is too sad to see if you will kill this thing for dead.

    73. I’m a noob game dev. Well, that’s kinda BS, since I started programming when I was 9, 25 years ago, and video games were my only passion. Yet, I have never made a game. Powerful self-doubt has been my barrier.

      On one hand, this article was a bit discouraging. Fortunately, you have succeeded in making other games, so the negativity can be reformed into a lessons.

      It seems the unspoken lesson here is to keep your eye on the end goal. You seem to have forgotten that with Link-Dead, trying to make the “everything” game.

      So Link-Dead is what it says it is. I hope from it will be born a true masterpiece.

      Anyway, thank you for the article. It was a good read.

    74. The tech and graphics in LD were amazing, but for me the gameplay felt forced and stale. Like others said it felt a bit “off” and bugged me somewhat. It’s an awesome platform you could quite easily build other games on though. Good luck with your future projects :)

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