Gaijin Games’ superb Bit.Trip series of games has established itself as a pixelated chip-tuned pillar of the indie universe. Splitting time between the PC and Wii platforms, Bit.Trip reminds us that good design makes good games with or without photorealistic graphics, complex artificial intelligence, complicated control schemes, and many other of the systems that we may associate with modern video games.
Gaijin programmer Mike Gonzales recently wrote an interesting post about prototyping gameplay for the upcoming Bit.Trip Runner2. Mike specifically writes about the concept of the state machine and its usefulness (or lack thereof) with regard to different game design concepts. From the post:
For those interested in gameplay mechanics (and don’t already have a degree in Computer Science), a state graph like above is a way to formally codify behaviors in such a way that it is easy to add lots of them without having them stomp all over each other or otherwise get messy.
Mike’s short explanation is helpful, and the whiteboard picture is fascinating. It still leaves some concepts unexplained: behaviors, frames, contextual legibility, moveset, qualitative description, and so forth. It’s not quite entry-level stuff, but very much worth a read.