Encapsulation is not always right

In object-oriented programming, encapsulation is sometimes a bad idea, and motion planning and collision are areas where this is particularly likely to be the case.

History of level 24

A finished game, with smooth gameplay and polished graphics, gives little evidence of the many twists and turns along the path of development. Here, in twenty-four screenshots of level 24, I show some of the trials, mistakes, and modest triumphs from the development of Floe.

Colliding balls

Several approaches to implementing a system of colliding balls, ranging from quick-and-rough to painstaking-and-slow.

User interface asynchrony

Implementing a match-making user interface for an ad-hoc wireless networked video game shows us that a user interface needs to be able to run asynchronously with respect to the implementation.

Super Paper Mario

A review of the 2007 Nintendo Wii game Super Paper Mario by Intelligent Systems, directed by Ryota Kawade. “Super Paper Mario has two significant innovations. One is graphically and conceptually spectacular, and was hyped in the game’s advertising, and is somewhat of a failure. The other is subtle, little commented on, and a big success.

How deep is your build pipeline?

Discussion of video game build pipelines and the development difficulties that they entail.

Paper Mario

A review of the 2000 Nintendo 64 game Paper Mario by Intelligent Systems, directed by Ryota Kawade. “Paper Mario is deliberately designed to be an RPG for beginners, and after playing it I can glimpse what people see in proper RPGs.


Why rules can’t tell us how to make good video games; we need understanding of their purpose and effects as well. With an extended digression on neoclassicism and John Dryden.

Zendoku puzzle generation

The technical challenges involved in implementing a sudoku puzzle generation algorithm on a handheld video game console, and how the developers at Zoonami solved them in the production of Zendoku for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

Murder in the cathedral

An analysis of the dispute between the Bishop of Manchester and the video game developer Insomniac over the use of Manchester Cathedral as a setting in the game Resistance: Fall of Man.

Zendoku tactics

Tactics and tips for winning at Quest Mode in Zoonami’s Zendoku, a video game for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. With lots of diagrams.

PSP loading times

Why video games on the Sony PlayStation Portable take so long to load, and what game developers can do to reduce loading times.

Mechanics spread over too much game

Why are so many games based on movies no good? The answer lies in the time and effort required to perfect each game mechanic.

The puzzle structure of Ocarina of Time

The structure of the puzzles in the Nintendo 64 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. With diagrams and maps.

The errors of Christminster

A study of the errors found and fixed during the development, testing and release history of the adventure Christminster, together with a suggested categorization of defects in adventure games.


A text adventure game set in the ancient university town of Christminster. A telegram from your brother Malcolm, a teacher at Biblioll College, draws you in to investigate the mystery of his disappearance, the history of the college, and the ambitions of the scheming Doctor Jarboe and Professor Bungay…

The Magic Toyshop

A text adventure game on the theme of toys and puzzles. Looking for a birthday present for your niece Isabelle, you wander down a dim Victorian arcade and come across an old toyshop, with a peeling rocking-horse behind a grimy window…