The Rise of the Systemic Game -

The Rise of the Systemic Game

Game Maker’s Toolkit
Views: 1412426
Like: 48917
From Breath of the Wild to Watch Dogs 2, we’re seeing a boom in so-called “systemic games”. What does that mean, how do they work, and what makes them tick?

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Aleissia Laidacker – Systems Are Everywhere | GCAP 2016

Raphael Colantonio, Harvey Smith – Empowering the Player in a Story-Rich World | GDC 2013

Why Dwarf Fortress started killing cats – Here’s A Thing | Eurogamer

The uncertain future of games like Deus Ex and Dishonored | PC Gamer

Find Out More

Nels Anderson – How Systems Will Save Us All! | Full Indie 2014

Harvey Smith, Randy Smith – Would the Real Emergent Gameplay Please Stand Up? | GDC 2004

Nintendo – Breaking Conventions with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild | GDC 2017

[ZIP] Clint Hocking – Designing to Promote Intentional Play | GDC 2006

What Works and Why Emergence | Rock Paper Shotgun

Nick Popovich – A Thousand Tiny Tales: Emergent Storytelling in Slime Rancher | GDC 2017

Mike Sellers – A Systemic Approach to Systemic Design | Sweden Game Arena 2015

Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions, 2015)
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (Warhorse Studios, 2018)
Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment, 2012)
Watch Dogs 2 (Ubisoft Montreal, 2016)
Far Cry 4 (Ubisoft Montreal, 2014)
Monster Hunter: World (Capcom, 2018)
Spelunky (Derek Yu, 2012)
SteamWorld Dig 2 (Image and Form, 2017)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog, 2011)
Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar San Diego, 2010)
Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal, 2017)
Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North, 2013)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions, 2014)
Call of Duty: WWII (Sledgehammer Games, 2017)
Prey (Arkane Studios, 2017)
Hitman (iO Interactive, 2016)
Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios, 2016)
Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo, 2011)
Rain World (Videocult, 2017)
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (Arkane Studios, 2017)
Far Cry 2 (Ubisoft Montreal, 2008)
Mafia III (Hangar 13, 2016)
SimCity (Maxis, 1989)
The Sims (Maxis, 2000)
RimWorld (Ludeon Studios, 2013)
Dwarf Fortress (Tam and Zach Adams, 2006)
Thief: The Dark Project (Looking Glass Studios, 1998)
System Shock 2 (Looking Glass Studios, 1999)
Gunpoint (Suspicious Developments, 2013)

Music used in this episode

Please, Don’t Touch Anything OST, blinch

k. Part 2 – 01 untitled 1, animeistrash

Other credits

The Sims 1: Gameplay #1 (No Commentary) | sibaem

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN Decoys Confuse Guard | rcua1884

Zelda: BOTW (Fire In The Hole) | Nassi

Contribute translated subtitles –


  1. Divinity Original Sin is unacceptably not mentioned

  2. After a few weeks of play, everything you do in Minecraft is "emergent." Stairs aren't supposed to be decoration, slime blocks aren't supposed to fly, the devs didn't intend fully automatic mob farms. But that's the fun of the game, and it all comes down to having highly specific rules for everything. A good redstone engineer is someone who comes up with clever ways to bend the laws of nature to his will.

  3. So everything in breath of the wild is……linked…..ahahahahaha…..ill go now…

  4. Thanks to systemic game design
    A closed problem can become a open ended problem
    It's not cheating , it's like finding a more efficient solution to puzzle that even developer didn't think of.

  5. Thief from 2014 is such a terrible game….I played about 2 hours and decided to uninstall it. Now I'm playing Prey (2017) and I'm in love with it.

  6. Lol systemic and danmachi Astrology tattoo's

  7. Games are so complicated and expensive that gameplay commentary heavy playthroughs and narratives regarding popular games have overtaken them. This is golden age YouTube. I love you.

  8. Didn't even know about the giant puddles that form

  9. Metal Gear Solid 5 has the best Gameplay I’ve ever seen in a game and it encourages you to do whatever you want .

  10. 2:56 you choose the wrong game to tell about “traditional” games. RDR2 is one of the most complex games ever made

  11. Non-waterproof bombs would ruin the whole system for me

  12. Wow. Old video, but came at just the right time for me as I've started thinking about how to incorporate this type of thinking into board game design. Thanks so much.

  13. The spurious stranger enzymatically judge because tie simultaneously spark for a female fertile market. industrious, melted defense

  14. This is what makes Zelda breath of the wild an impressive game the physics systems

  15. Interesting topic. Is that essentially what Cyberpunk 2077 is missing? I don't want to bash on it, it actually didn't really occur to me that systems that are actually present, don't really work together. Mmh…

  16. Way back in the 90's I was thinking about where graphics could go after a certain point, and I remember my sister saying that at some point they'd reach their limit. I then remember trying to tell her that games may get to a point where the graphics are the same, but the worlds will be as large as whole cities and people will be able to grow crops and watch them grow over time and so on. I had no idea of how technology worked back then (and I still don't) but I had an idea that with better technology things would happen in video games that mimicked reality that had nothing to do with graphics. I should probably feel petty for being proud of figuring that out on my own, but nonetheless I feel proud of that. I had a vision of what could be and games have increasingly gone that route and will continue to.

  17. Noone talking about skyrim buckets, huh? Najeem disapproves.

  18. i remember in one botw shrine i had to hit this stasis'd ball into a wall but i didn't want to break my weapon so instead in dropped it on the floor and banged it against the ball with magnesis, or just flipping over the console and catapulting the ball with stupid motion controls, finding new ways to cheese, love it

  19. I'm amazed you didn't mention Divinity: Original Sin's environmental systems and spells alongside Breath of the Wild's.

  20. so this definitely includes Fallout, right?

  21. I think systemic dialogue will be a major peak of gaming. By this I mean not having the NPCs respond to a player’s dialogue choices with scripted dialogue choices, but instead allowing the NPCs to form words into thoughts and sentences of their own. Even further would be to base an NPC’s choice of answer on their past experiences, which could also be systemic. I say this will be a “big peak” in gaming and only appear far into the future because it would take extremely advanced AI who basically have an entire life story in their programming and who probably couldn’t be voice acted because there’d be far too many words, tones, etc. They would have to have some kind of advanced computer-generated voice to sound out their words. But at this point, we’d basically have Sky-Net in game form on our hands, so maybe that’s not a good idea.

  22. Isn't it so unfortunate that Rockstar's Rage engine has such great physics, yet they design their missions around strict, linear, scripted events?

  23. This video is making me aware that we're heading towards the age of simulated life (like in The Matrix).

  24. is portal (2) a puzzle systemic game?

  25. if they would stop trying to make immersive sims a linear story game and just made them the sandboxes they're meant to be, it would be much better

  26. that wasn't the intended solution to the botw electricity puzzle?

  27. Bugsnax is fairly systemic, with lots of snax and tools able to interact with each other and plenty of room to screw around and make creative solutions. But one thing that feels like a problem to me, is that there doesn't seem to be a PLANNED method for everything. That might be fine as long as there ARE methods, but the fact that Flamin' Cheepoof can (based on my research) only be captured using weird ass-backwards nonsense definitely made my creative solution feel less rewarding. (And it had to be carefully planned nonsense, not like the Cocomites where if you f*** around enough you'll get them eventually.)

  28. The Dishonored series also has a lot of those systemic interactions!

  29. One of the examples of immersive gameplay I've seen is Genshin Impact. In that game, the 7 elements can all interact with each other, like pyro (fire) burns dendro (nature), changes the element of anemo (wind) to pyro, causes an explosion with electro, and vaporises hydro (water). This lets all sorts of interactions happen like freezing a lake over to cross it without risking drowning, or using electric attacks on a wet floor to affect everyone standing on it.

  30. I'm surprised you didn't put prototype
    Lose mutants by leading them to military territory and vice versa
    For a 2009 game, I think it was pretty advanced

  31. It is an amazing vídeo, you are the best one. I am able to find elements of Mario ferreira dos Santos' philosophy (Well characterized by the equally brilliant philosopher Olavo de Carvalho) in this vídeo. I can't express how amazing is this sensation.

  32. Something I noticed when I was playing dungeon and dragons with my friends (as dungeon master) was that making ennemy incredibly strong but also describing a lot the environment they would immediately think about ways to beat the monster but using their imagination rather than the rules of the game. The best moments are when I get away from the game's rules and just react to all the crazy plans they want to make. And I always try to make them dramatically fail while still letting them react

  33. My favorite part about these kinds of games is when something unscripted looks more cinematic than what is scripted

  34. I've always wondered why I loved Watch Dogs 2 but hated GTA V. The system interactions in Watch Dogs 2 really made the game, I was just never conscience of what was happening.

  35. Rimworld: so your base's defense is all range based? So bad this meelee based raid came during a heavy fog.

    Dwarf Fortress: Cats dying of alcohol poisoning.
    Rimworld: Puppies with cirrhosis

  36. Finally, someone put a name to the "rube goldberg" effect in video games!

    Some of my personal favorites:
    Rain World (!!)
    Catacomb Kids
    Dying Light

  37. One great example oh this is the ways you can kill The Wither Boss in Minecraft
    1.kill it in combat make you feel brave
    2.use bedrock to suffocate it easy but feels less rewarding
    3.use hundreds of bees makes you feel like a very smart being
    4.use invisibility this makes you feel smart cause you outsmarted wither and makes you feel brave because u literally wore no armor in front of freakin wither because of invisibility
    and offcourse there are many different ways to kill or die from wither in Minecraft

  38. There is a Link inbetween all of your games Kappa

  39. The most glorious gaming moment I ever experienced was in Elderscrolls IV: Oblivion. I threw the Adoring Fan off a cliff and just walked away and went back to adventuring. I forgot all about him. An hour later, I'm being accosted by a crew of bandits, and getting my ass kicked. Suddenly, the Adoring Fan comes charging in from out of nowhere and jumps into the fight. I laughed so hard, I nearly fell out of my chair. He was immediately demolished, but the distraction gave me some time to recover some health and charge back in to kick some ass myself.

    A brilliant example of emergent gameplay if I ever saw one.

  40. If think this misses the point. Having a specific rule for the interaction of systems just impose another system on top of everything. The point is to have a framework that doesn’t make it necessary to impose special systems. Like physics engines.

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