Mar 292014


I spent this last week at the Game Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA) trade show, and it was a very interesting and enlightening experience. GAMA is the show were publishers like Level 99 meet up with retailers (to tell them about the games we make) and printers (so they can tell us about what games they’re able to make). It’s a nice perspective on things, as we normally deal with gamers directly, and talking with store owners has made me look at things a little differently.

What do our fans think of when they think of Level 99 Games? What do the people buying our games think? What do the people selling our games think? When I started Level 99 Games, it was to fill a niche that I saw in the board game hobby. I knew exactly what that niche was, but I don’t think I ever really put it into words or categorized it.

However, there were 3 words I chose carefully when I put up our first front page. These words embodied what I wanted to make in the games we created. Continue reading »

Mar 142014

Many times when I talk about mechanics or game design or game theory, the knee-jerk response is “but how does this make a game fun?” And isn’t that the whole point? If we can’t make a game more fun, then all the other tools are useless.

So in this article, I’ll sum up my thoughts on fun–what it is, where it comes from, and how we can use the tools we have as game designers to create more of it in the world.


Fun is an emotion, and like other emotions, it comes from the inside. External forces may facilitate or work against our enjoyment, but ultimately the individual is responsible for his own emotions, and for what he chooses to feel and take away from the experience. Here are two truths about fun:

  1. No game can make you have fun if you don’t want to.
  2. No game will get in the way of having fun if you want to have it.

So what can the designer take away from this? If enjoyment belongs to the players, how can we create something that will inspire enjoyment? Should we give up? Of course not! But we have to give a certain amount of trust to our players too. We should assume that players approaching our creation have two properties… Continue reading »

Nov 112013

This article is part of a continuing series on Millennium Blades, a game in development from Level 99 Games. You can read more about the game’s conception and development here and here.


Pen or Pencil? Revisions in Design

One thing that many of the playtesters for Level 99 Games comment about is our strategy of constantly reworking game designs. Most of the games that you see reaching your table have been revised from scratch or near scratch ten times or more. This article is about the reasons and methods we use to deconstruct our own games in order to make them better.

Continue reading »