Robert Yang: Let's Play Anomalous Materials from Half-Life

Robert Yang (who I've mentioned here before) made such a good let's play of the first room and corridor of Half-Life.

A "let's play" is traditionally a narrated video of one or more people playing through a video game. Usually they are just to document the video game so that it can be experienced or understood without playing it, but some of the best ones are made by people who know the game inside out and are able to add some amount of context or commentary to the play-through, drawing the viewer's attention to specific details and not getting side-tracked by any difficulty in progression. There are many great let's plays on the Let's Play Archive.

Robert Yang's video is not really about the game as it is played, but about the design of the game from the perspective of a level designer. It was made for a let's play event.

I don't think he has plans to do more but I would listen to that guy talk about level design any time. A couple of the comments under his post of the video are worth reading too.

"Designing to reveal the nature of the universe" — Jonathan Blow and Marc ten Bosch at IndieCade 2011

I watched this interesting talk on game design by Jonathan "Braid" Blow and Marc "Miegakure" ten Bosch. They espouse and explore a particular design aesthetic where the designer essentially plays the role of a mathematician.  "Good design" then becomes a selection of orthogonal mechanisms (axioms), and an exhaustive-yet-minimal mapping-out of what's derivable (theorems), and then demarcation of the boundary. Since it needs to be fun, the real art has to come from crafting surprise and tweaking axioms to capture exactly what you want. They both make some very interesting points, and I thought this comparison with mathematics was a particularly cool and apt way to frame the ideas.

This aesthetic is particularly apparent in the examples they use in the talk, including Braid, VVVVVV, Ikaruga and the as-yet-unreleased Miegakure.

Watch it here: