Last summer, I participated in game designer Ian Schreiber’s free Game Design Concepts course. It it still readily available on his blog, and it is still free.
Last week, I learned he was offering a new summer class: Game Balance Concepts, which is focused entirely on balance. Game balance doesn’t seem to be well covered in the literature out there. In fact, in a book Schreiber cowrote, Challenges for Game Designers, there are only a few sections that touch on it at a high level. This course seems to be a good start to fill in the gap.
This course, like last year’s, is free, but he also offered a pay version for it, which I gladly took advantage of. Basically, I get to participate in the class as he presents, ask questions, and give feedback, all live. Besides getting a few other extras that he described in the blog, I can also send emails directly to him, giving me pretty awesome access to a game designer’s brain.
Today was the first class, and it was all introductory. We discussed what balance generally means, how it can be achieved, and how different kinds of games can make balancing more or less difficult. We talked about things I was aware of but haven’t given much thought to before, such as determinism and how it impacts solvability. There was more discussion about the importance of the metagame today than I’ve seen in any of my discussions about games, including playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends.
I’m looking forward to participating in future classes this summer. I’m not sure if paid access is closed, but you can definitely follow along on the main blog if you’re interested. Also, if you use Twitter, you can follow along with us as we discuss it using the hashtag #GBCU.
How much thought do you give to game balance when you design your games? Do you find more formal courses such as Game Balance Concepts helpful, or do you prefer to learn learn about game design in other ways?