Blogging Hydra

20 Game Design and Development Blogs: Great Writing On How To Make Games

With the rise of social media, blogs may have passed their heyday. But, as you might guess while reading this very blog post, we’re still strong believers that a regularly updated blog full of well-crafted posts can be an invaluable source of both learning and entertainment. 

With that in mind, we gathered the absolute best blogs we could find about the craft of making games, from every dusty corner of the internet, and we present them here for your perusal.

What Do You Mean by Game Design and Development Blogs?

Game design and development is a pretty broad topic, but generally speaking, the blogs in this post are about the process of making a game. How to make games, why games are made the way they are and also some good old-fashioned opinions of what you should and shouldn’t do when making a game of your very own. 

The blogs in this article are written by everyone from world-famous designers who’ve been around since the formation of the industry, all the way to up-and-coming creators who have a fresh and optimistic perspective on the craft.

How Did You Decide Which Blogs Made the List?

I tried to prioritize blogs that give at least some actionable tips and advice on how to make better games. However, blogs are much less formal than other mediums so some off-topic talk is to be expected. 

It’s worth mentioning what this list is not. It is not a list of Gamasutra blogs. Gamasutra already does a pretty good job of curating the content that appears on their site so you can go there to find lots of amazing game development content. I have also not included blogs which have no new articles posted in the last 2 years. This unfortunately discounts a lot of really great blogs but I chose to focus on blogs with fresh and up to date content.

I also, as a rule, chose not to include blogs which are solely dev diaries. Even for games made by a solo developer. There are so, so many and they tend to have less educational benefit unless you want to know how a specific game was made. Some of the blogs on this list do include dev diaries but only as a portion of the content not the whole thing. I’ll probably post an article about great dev diaries in the future so check back if that’s something you’re interested in.

Finally, to make this list easier to skim through, I included some standard fields for each entry, those are:

Writers: Who writes the blog.
Topics: What topics you can expect to find discussed.
Recommended post: An exceptional post worth reading or a good starting point to introduce you to the blog.

1 – Alan Zucconi

Writers: Alan Zucconi (Pikuniku)
Topics: Gamedev tutorials, modding, AI, mathematics, technical art
Recommended post: Gamedev Pronunciation Guide

Alan Zuconni is both an indie game developer and a lecturer in Artificial Intelligence. His blog is an excellent collection of tutorials and guides on everything from implementing AI in games to tips on how to work from home. All of his articles are highly detailed and do a good job of guiding you through often complex subjects. Even so, the majority of his tutorials are highly technical in nature so at least a basic grasp of the topics being discussed might come in handy.

2 – Inigo Quilez

Writers: Inigo Quilez (Pixar’s Brave and The Good Dinosaur)
Topics: Mathematics, computer graphics, technical art
Recommended post: our article on how to get into Technical Art.

Oddly, I’m not recommending the link on his site labeled ‘blog’ as that is more of a personal blog. Although, you will find some tech talk there. Instead, I advise you check out the ‘articles’ link which is chock-full of brilliant guides, tutorials, and code. As a self-admitted math obsessive, Inigo’s articles are dense and complex but extremely informative.

3 – Digital Ephemera

Writers: Dan Cox
Topics: Game design, writing, interactive fiction, Twine, Ink, Unity 
Recommended post: Understanding the Game Design Document (GDD)

Digital Ephemera is written by Dan Cox. It’s not often that a person’s description of themselves is concise and informative enough that I’m tempted to include it verbatim but this is one of those times:

“Dan Cox: reader, writer, coder, and sometimes person.
Often found in classrooms; mostly harmless.”

I also appreciate a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference which isn’t just the number 42.

As for the blog itself, Dan writes extensively about Twine, including many many tutorials. He also writes about the Ink scripting language, which is how I found him as our recently released visual novel This Game Is A Business Card used Ink and Dan’s tutorials were one of many resources I consumed when learning how to write with it.

While much of Dan’s output is about making interactive fiction, he also regularly tackles broader game design. As you would expect from someone who describes themselves as a writer, all of his posts are clear, easy to read, and informative.

4 – Lostgarden

Writers: Daniel Cook (Spry Fox)
Topics: Art, game design, prototyping, business
Recommended post: Understanding randomness in terms of mastery

The writer of Lostgarden, Daniel Cook, is not only the Chief Creative Officer of Spry Fox (Triple Town) but also an incredibly insightful and thoughtful game designer. The more than two decades of essays on this blog offer an invaluable insight into both the art and the craft of making games as well the business of running a successful studio.

5 – Bob Nystrom

Writers: Bob Nystrom (EA)
Topics: Coding, game design, procedural generation,C, C#, Java, Python
Recommended post: What the Hero Sees: Field-of-View for Roguelikes

Bob Nystrom is a Software Engineer who writes prolifically about coding in not only this extensive blog, but also the two books he’s written, Game programming Patterns, and the recently released Crafting Interpreters.

Like his books, his blog posts are informative, but they also manage the surprisingly uncommon achievement (when writing about coding) of being entertaining.

6 – Sirlin on Game Design

Writers: David Sirlin (Street Fighter HD Remix, Fantasy Strike, Yomi, Codex)
Topics: Game design, systems design, graphic design, postmortems, game analysis
Recommended post: Solvability

David Sirlin is a game and graphic designer of both video games and tabletop games. His blog is a great source of insight and information for any aspiring designer. On there, you’ll find breakdowns of the design behind his previous games, analysis of what makes other people’s games great, and well-crafted essays on his design principles and theories.

7 – Game Design Post

Writers: Harshal Karvande (Rovio, Zynga) 
Topics: Game design, game analysis, industry analysis, mobile, F2P, monetization, retention
Recommended post: Pokémon Go Stayed at Home and Triumphed Over the Pandemic

Harshal writes one kind of article over and over again. Luckily, he does them super well. Those articles are in-depth analyses and teardowns of what makes mobile and free-to-play games successful. He dissects how hit games like Genshin Impact and Clash of Clans manage to draw players in and then keep them happy and engaged. His experience working at Zynga and more recently, Rovio, makes him the perfect man for the job. If you’re looking to replicate the success of some of the most downloaded games out there, his articles are a must-read.

8 – Designer Notes

Writers: Soren Johnson (Civilization IV, Offworld Trading Company)
Topics: Game design, strategy design, prototyping, AI
Recommended post: Know Your Inheritance (GDC 2018)

Designer Notes is the blog of legendary 4X designer Soren Johnson. While recent posts are mostly recaps of his (admittedly excellent) podcast. The archives contain a veritable treasure trove of articles and presentations on game design.

9 – Raph Koster’s Website

Writers: Raph Koster (Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies)
Topics: Game design, postmortems, business analysis, retention
Recommended post: The Trust Spectrum

Raph Koster is a veteran game designer and the author of the excellent book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design. On his blog, you’ll find not only 20+ years of essays and writings on game design and other topics, but also written versions of the many many presentations and interviews he’s done over the years.

10 – Game Design Advance

Writers: Various including: Frank Lantz, Charles J Pratt, Robert Meyer, James Lantz, Joshua Knowles, Charles Miller, Scott Hoffer, Kunal Gupta, Bob Clark, Oren Ross 
Topics: Game design, game analysis, cultural analysis, scholarship 
Recommended post: Against Design

Game Design Advance is one of the more unique blogs on this list. Firstly, it’s not written by just one person but has a large number of contributors. This is owed to the fact that the blog’s creator, Frank Lantz, teaches game design at NYU and he’s made the blog available as a place for students, academics and professionals in the New York area to share their thoughts on game design and the wider culture of games.

As you might expect from the above description, this blog’s tone and subject matter can be a little inconsistent at times and it does tend to lean on the side of cerebral thought-provoking opinion pieces as opposed to actionable advice but there are a lot of great articles to be found that are well-worth the time spent finding them.

11 – JB-DEV

Writers: Javier Barnés (Tilting Point, Pixel Noire)
Topics: Game design, game analysis, industry analysis, monetization, F2P, mobile

Javier is a regular of conventions and industry talks and this blog is a valuable extension of his passion for sharing great advice on how to make, and monetize, mobile and free-to-play games. 

Javier has one foot in the indie world (as the Design Director of Pixel Noire) and the other in the high-stakes world of mobile publishing (as a Senior Product Manager at Tilting Point). His breadth of experience means his writing is both informed and interesting.

12 – The Instruction Limit

Writers: Renaud Bédard (Fez)
Topics: Coding, mathematics, Unity, C#, game jams, postmortems
Recommended post: Unity Toy Path Tracer

The Instruction Limit is a blog written by Renaud Bédard, the programmer behind the much storied indie darling Fez. The blog is a no-frills feed of (irregularly posted) articles that alternate between tech-heavy essays and post mortems of game jams and other projects Renaud has been working on (including Fez itself). As Renaud admits in the about section of the blog, it is seldom updated, but what is there is well-worth a read.

13 – Blobs in Games

Writers: Amit Patel (Solar Realms Elite, Realm of the Mad God)
Topics: Mathematics, procedural generation, pathfinding, Rust
Recommended post: Red Blob Games. Both are run by Amit Patel and both aim to teach the maths and computer science behind game development. 

Red Blob Games does so through in-depth tutorials and interactive visual explanations while the blog, Blobs in Games, takes a less formal approach, instead providing reports on Amit’s technical experiments, as well as the odd anecdote on his personal life. Both are great and well worth a read.

14 – The Quixotic Engineer

Writers: Matthew Gallant (The Last of Us 2, Uncharted 4)
Topics: Game design, systems design, 
Recommended post: Thinking in Systems

The Quixotic Engineer is a game design blog written by Matthew Gallant, a game designer working at Naughty Dog. As with many of the blogs on this list, Matthew’s is infrequently updated (two posts in the last two years as of writing) but the posts that are there are often long, detailed, and valuable. Matthew’s experience working on some of the most highly regarded AAA games of all time make for some great reads.

15 – Joost’s Dev Blog

Writers: Joost van Dongen (Ronimo Games)
Topics: Game design, game development, postmortems, art, music, business
Recommended post: Combining 2D and 3D in Blightbound’s VFX

Joost van Dongen is a founder, and up until recently, was the CEO of Ronimo games. He left to focus on personal projects which you’ll surely be able to keep up with if you follow his excellent blog.

Joost posts guides and in-depth explanations of techniques used in Ronimo’s games as well as his previous personal projects. He also posts more broadly about his other interests, including art, music, business, and marketing.

16 – The Candybox Blog

Writers: Nathalie Lawhead (Tetrageddon)
Topics: Art, Flash, tools development, UI design, cultural commentary, game analysis
Recommended post: “I want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and I’m not kidding”

The Candybox Blog is run by Nathalie Lawhead, an independent game designer who makes experimental interactive experiences that blur the line between games and art.

That is on full display in the desktop version of her site which perfectly invokes the counterculture vibe that accompanied many of the flash games of the late 90s and early 2000s. Complete with wacky fonts, a skull cursor, a colorful animated background and even a permanent blue flame smouldering in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Once you get into the posts themselves, you’ll find her writing is extremely passionate, often opinionated, and nearly always thought provoking and valuable. 

17 – Ming-Lun “Allen” Chou | 周明倫

Writers: Ming-Lun “Allen” Chou (The Last of Us 2, Uncharted 4)
Topics: Coding, mathematics, physics, Unity
Recommended post: Game Math: Trigonometry Basics – Sine & Cosine

The second Naughty Dog alum on this list, Allen Chou’s blog is full of code and maths. Everything you’d hope for from a programmer working on AAA games. Allen has written a number of multi-part series with one of them consisting of over 20 articles, each one building on those that came before. Long story short, this is a great resource for anyone who wants to up their tech skills when it comes to programming games.

18 – Sunday Sunae

Writers: Ponypants
Topics: Gamedev tutorials, game art, low poly, character design, game reviews
Recommended post: Unity VS Unreal – Which Engine Should You Choose?

Sunday Sundea is the website of gamedev YouTuber Ponypants. On the site he publishes gamedev tutorials and related articles as well as the odd game review. 

The site is updated much less regularly than his YouTube channel but there is still a decent selection of well-written articles to peruse. A bonus being that most have an accompanying video.

19 – Randy Gaul’s Game Programming Blog

Writers: Randy Gaul (Microsoft)
Topics: Coding, mathematics, C, C++, Python, algorithms, data-oriented design
Recommended post: Collision Detection in 2D or 3D – Some Steps for Success

Another blog which is about programming, programming, and then programming some more. Articles are well crafted and hyper-focused on such riveting topics as ‘Binary Heaps in C’ or ‘Faster vcvars32.bat’ and more besides. 

It’s almost completely impenetrable if you don’t dream in code but with 20+ years of posts to comb through, you’re sure to find something valuable to 1UP your game development skills with.

20 – The Bottom Feeder

Writers: Jeff Vogel (Spiderweb Software)
Topics: Game design, game analysis, business analysis, 
Recommended post: Why All Of Our Games Look Like Crap

Distilling decades of game making experience into clear and easy to digest articles is exactly what earns you a spot in this article and Jeff Vogel’s blog, The Bottom Feeder, does just that, with aplomb.

Over the course of hundreds of posts he recounts his experiences running Spiderweb Software and releasing 20+ games, all while adapting to survive a changing industry.

There we go, enough blogs to last you a lifetime! If there’s any you think we missed please let us know by commenting below or getting in touch with us directly.

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