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Mark of the Ninja dev cut teeth on tabletop RPG design

9:00 AM on 02.04.2013 // Jonathan Holmes

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Mark of the Ninja lead designer Nels Anderson is on a roll. His first time running lead on a project and it scores multiple perfect scores, giving Klei Entertainment a new hit game to play with. The game's success can be largely attributed to the team's relentless efforts to hone the underlying design elements to perfection. To hear Nels tell it, that was no easy task.

First the game's stealth elements weren't fun, which led the team to instead working on making the combat more enjoyable. Then they worried that if the combat was the most fun part, that no one would bother trying to play in a more stealthy manner, so they went back to the drawing board with the stealth elements. This constant refinement of the details and how they mesh together was an arduous task for some, but for Nels it appears to be a life's calling.

This focus on design principals over surface level trappings stems from Nels background in computer science and tabletop RPGs. While Mark of the Ninja was Nels's first lead on a videogame, he'd worked on multiple pen and paper role playing games in the past. Many of these games were "horrible" according to Nels, but his fascination with the language of game design and crafting an algorithm for players to experiment with shone through any discouraging pitfalls he may have experienced  along the way. 

Thanks again to Nels for hanging out with us, and tune in this Sunday when we welcome former Destructoid editor Matthew "Tristero" Walden to the program to discuss the issue of "gun games" and their affect on victims of gun violence.

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
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