If you're new here, you might like to check the Reading List, which introduces some of the important concepts on this site.
  • MTQ: Strategy Lessons from a Chess Grandmaster

    26th Feb, 2015By Softmints10 minutes

    I recently read a book called How Life Imitates Chess by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.

    It describes the strategic analysis and decision-making techniques he developed while competing at the highest level of chess, and shares how the same techniques are applicable to decision-making in other areas of life.

  • Cherry Pick: Competitive Drafting Without Bans

    22nd May, 2014By Softmints5 minutes

    I'm sure most of you are familiar with the concept of drafting, the pre-match ritual in which players negotiate the characters that will be in-play during a match. Typical drafting phases consist of an alternating sequence of picks and bans. I've listed the drafting sequence for several commercial games below. There's some variation, but they're all pretty similar:

  • In this article, I'd like to introduce a broad classification of gameplay elements which I find useful when describing a lane-pushing game.

    As players progress through a match, they have the option of outfitting their hero with various long-term bonuses. I collectively refer to these bonuses as equipment. Each type of equipment has a maximum number of slots, and a variety of things which can be equipped to these slots.

  • Ability Resources

    20th Oct, 2013By Softmints2 minutes

    This article is about ability resources: a type of mechanic which a moba designer can use to direct when a player should use their hero's abilities.

    If an ability is free, a player will use it in every situation where it is beneficial (or at least, more beneficial than attacking, which is also free). It is usually more elegant to make this kind of ability passive or toggled.

  • RNG and Why to Avoid It

    19th Sep, 2013By Softmints3 minutes

    Players will tell you that they don't like it, but on-the-fly random number generation (rng) is seen in almost every match in the three biggest MOBAs (League, Dota2, and HoN). Why is this?

    Firstly, I want to establish that randomness in games isn't a problem on its own. Card games like poker hinge on it, while still being enjoyable and competitive. The problem is that in a card game, players are betting on their ability to read their opponent. In an RTS, players are betting on the rng.