GDS2, Episode 5: Design Challenge Elimination

Posted in Feature on January 12, 2011

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

Time to eliminate another candidate. It's definitely getting harder each time, After today, there will only be four designers remaining. I will list each designer's name. If you click on it you will see whether they are in or out. Candidates that are in will have a green CONTINUE PLAYING. The candidate that is eliminated will have a red GAME OVER. I will then give a short summary of where I feel they stand or why they were eliminated.

Shawn Main


You have managed to win your second Design Challenge. You ended up choosing one of the hardest worlds to design but you have been doing an excellent job rising to the challenge. You don't have time to rest on your laurels though because your set has numerous issues that have to be attended to, the largest of which is keeping it from getting too parasitic and finding a way to make blight work despite its flaws. Good work!

Ethan Fleischer


Your streak of Design Challenge wins ends at two. Still you had a good submission this week and should be proud of all the work you're doing. The thing you most need to work on is narrowing down what your set is going to use. You have a lot of good ideas on how to represent evolution. Now pick a small handful. Your set has great promise and is clearly becoming the most cohesive of the bunch. Focus your energies and make your execution as clean as your concept.

Scott Van Essen


I'm not sure if anyone (well, other than the judges) is paying attention, but you've managed to improve each and every Design Challenge. You're listening to the notes and you're applying them. The big problem you have is that you have this amazing underground prison set with very little prison and almost no underground. Your set could be as catchy as Ethan's but you're not making use of the wonderful resources your concept is capable of. Your mechanics are coming together, now make it an underground prison!

Jonathon Loucks


You have some of the best raw talents I've ever seen in a designer. You have amazing ideas and your mind goes places that most others do not. I believe you walked into the Top 8 as the frontrunner. Your world was the most fleshed out and showed the greatest potential. The problem is that you never quite found that potential. You kept getting pulled off target by shiny mechanics that, while novel, weren't doing what your set needed. You also are attracted to complexity in way that I hope this competition has made you more aware of. Finally, I feel like you have to cultivate the skill of understanding why others like the game you're designing. Too much of your designs were things you would like rather than a thing the majority of Magic players would like. Fortunately, all of the above are things that can be learned (as opposed to idea generation, which cannot), so I feel like with more experience you have a bright future ahead of you in game design. I am very sorry to have to let you go.

Devon Rule


If Jonathon's submission had been just a little better, you would be the person I sent packing today. I think you are a strong designer and you make cards that are fun and play well. The problem though is that we are testing vision and you are having problems defining your world. I know you have the ability to do what is being asked of you and I see traces of brilliance, but right now, going into the last challenge, you are at the bottom of the pack. The thing to think about is not how you see your world but how the player will see it. How are we selling it? What's the catchy two- or three-word description of it? I feel like you have invaders because the story calls for them but I don't understand who they are or why they're invading. Look at Scars of Mirrodin for how we used the design to show and explain each side. The players understand what each wants and how they go about doing it. The final Design Challenge is do-or-die time for you. Step up and you get flown to Renton. I know you can do it.

And then there were four ...

And those four were in for their toughest Design Challenge yet.

Click here to see what they'll have to do.

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