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GDC 2019

Design Philosophies & Lessons from Developing Merge Dragons


Ranked in the top 25 GDC sessions

Merge Dragons! is an independent mobile game turned breakout hit. It mashes a match-3-like mechanic of merging directly into a puzzly-collection game with cute simulated dragons.


How is such a strange game so successful? Join in this session and the creator, Ray Mazza, will take you on a journey from how this unlikely concept was born, through how the design pillars of discovery, infinite play, and "merging everything" shaped the design into a deeply engaging game.


The session shares many design insights and even a few fun stories, like how a duck accidentally ended up in a game about dragons (and why that is great).

* Note that the GDC has made this accessible to GDC Vault members only.

If you don't have Vault access, you can check out my other talk, Life is a Social Game, which is free to all viewers.

GDC 2012

Life is a Social Game:

Lessons Learned Bringing The Sims to Facebook

The Sims Series has sold over 150 million games in 10 years. But in just six months, 70 million players have already played The Sims Social. This transition from a AAA franchise into a successful free-to-play social game was a major design challenge.


Drawing on this experience, this talk looks at how designers new to "social" have to adjust their approaches and design philosophies. We'll also discuss different types of choice, building a strong ranking system, and the conflict of design and monetization. 


Finally, learn how the "human element" makes The Sims Social stand out among its peers, why in-game relationships could be the next big trend, and how you might harness these things for your games.

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A Top-Ranked GDC Session

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Speaking at GDC, courtesy of

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GDC 2013 Speaker Deck Card

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