A Design Interview with Edmund McMillen

Edmund McMillen, one half of Team Meat, posted an interview that he did at some point in the past to his blog this weekend. It is an hour and a half long, which is pretty long, but he also touches on a number of interesting design points during the interview.

Particularly, he explains why his games are incredibly hard. For McMillen, games have to have difficulty in order for there to be any kind of reward in completing the game–it is straight-up aporia and epiphany from Aarseth. What is interesting is that this “old school” form of design, straight out of the NES and SNES era, is so incredibly useful still today. Super Meat Boy is loved for the sense of accomplishment that you get from completing the missions. McMillen’s interview really cements the fact that game design, in fundamental principles, hasn’t really changed in a long time.

Another interesting bit in how McMillen suggests that dynamism in game design can only come from small teams and that the creation of large companies actually precludes any kind of adaptive design. His example is that a set piece, designed on paper in one way, can never be changed from that in the final process, even if it turns out that it isn’t “fun.” I’m not sure that he is correct across the board, but there is a certain way that games are designed in large groups that is paralytic.

In any case, I’m just pulling out little bits. The interview is long but absolutely worth it for anyone who is interested in game design. McMillen even includes some tips for up-and-coming game designers, if that is your thing.

To check out some other writing I’ve done on Edmund McMillen, read my review of Indie Game: The Movie

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