The Mechanics of Character Design - Analyzing the Design of Marvel Puzzle Quest - Extra Credits

Good character design should successfully capture the fantasy of *being* a particular character. Even with mechanical constraints on gameplay possibilities, compelling characters are still achievable via techniques like ludonarrative resonance.
Shoutout to Paige from Demiurge Studios for helping us write this episode! Give Marvel Puzzle Quest a try for free at:
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♪ Intro Music: "Penguin Cap" by CarboHydroM
♪ Outro Music:
“Sword of Sand”
By: Hylian Lemon


  1. Extra Credits

    Extra Credits7 months ago

    Using Marvel Puzzle Quest as a template, we're analyzing how you can use a limited set of mechanics to design a variety of diverse character experiences. Thanks to Paige from Demiurge Studios for helping us write this episode!

  2. J2Dragon

    J2Dragon6 months ago

    Lon Johnson What they are saying is, Marvel didn’t ‘shove’ the characters into a match 3 game. They actually made mechanics that fit.

  3. Overhazard

    Overhazard6 months ago

    On the other hand, those video game conventions need to be clear even for people not familiar with them. There will always be someone seeing something for the first time. Using the color-coded examples used in this video, pinball has its own color terminology too. It's not universal, but they're generally understood. Places where you can lock a ball will typically be green or have green lights. Similarly things related to extra balls are orange. The ball saver is most commonly red. Where you want to shoot the ball at the moment is usually white. (Blue was not used until recently due to the difficulty and expense of manufacturing blue lights that don't degrade to white after a short time, so there's no standard for blue.) But how many people who watched this video knew this? Only people who've played a lot of pinball will know. (It does help, however, that virtual pinball companies like Zen Studios and Little Wing follow these conventions.)

  4. Jaap Brasser

    Jaap Brasser7 months ago

    Damn did you guys get paid for namedropping the title this often? Awesome episode but its eeehm a little blatant

  5. Edward Aucay

    Edward Aucay7 months ago

    IamMe of course they do

  6. IamMe

    IamMe7 months ago

    @Edward Aucay do they synergize aswell?

  7. Brilchan

    BrilchanMonth ago

    Thanks for getting me interested in MPQ played over 300 since I have seen this ep. I love that set in the same universe as the canceled Marvel Avengers Alliance with ISO 8 with I loved but with is a great example how poor decisions with the in-game economy can ruin your game by making it unprofitable MAA was too generous and it was its downfall. MPQ its more focused on cribbing dark Regine storyline and fighting Osborn, Hammer, and dark avengers. I like it but it basically runs on zombie mode right now endlessly replaying the same few missions and PVP with bearly any new content but it's still fun to unwind with it. Its pretty "loot boxy" so if you have problems with those triggers it may not be for you but I play for free and don't feel smothered by Wallet Worriers

  8. Naþan Ø

    Naþan Ø2 months ago

    Anyone else remember when Extra Credits was good?

  9. Multi-gameGamer 491

    Multi-gameGamer 4912 months ago

    Has anybody noticed that the title from the writing for games playlist is "The Mechanics of Character Design - Anal"?

  10. Neon Blade

    Neon Blade3 months ago


  11. Jimmy Welsh

    Jimmy Welsh6 months ago

    Marvel Contest of Champions

  12. That girl from hell that kidnaps bad people.

    That girl from hell that kidnaps bad people.6 months ago

    This is dead-onbone of the best YT vid i've seen in a while!

  13. J B

    J B6 months ago

    This video is pretty bad. Should’ve just used a single example from that game you were promoting. Was interested in the topic but came away uninformed. Thanks for wasting my time

  14. Phvli

    Phvli6 months ago

    A 7 minute commercial. Thanks but no thanks. You guys used to be able to do better.

  15. Extra Credits

    Extra Credits6 months ago

    Hey folks! Just wanted to be upfront and clear, this episode was not sponsored. If an episode is sponsored, we will always let you know at the beginning and end of the episode and will always state up front that the episode was sponsored. Marvel Puzzle Quest is just a game that a few members of the EC crew really enjoy and we were glad to be able to use it to show that you don’t need giant complex fighters, mobas or team-based multiplayer games to do some interesting character designs. Even something with simple mechanics, like a match-3 game, can make the most of their mechanics to deliver some pretty cool character moments! Hope this help clears up any of the confusion! - A

  16. Arvid P.

    Arvid P.6 months ago

    There's some really beautiful Marvel character art here.

  17. 39ocean

    39ocean6 months ago

    Well that was an overt advert.

  18. CNash85

    CNash856 months ago

    I bet if he'd used a super popular game as an example (Overwatch, Fortnite, etc.), nobody would be accusing him of this.

  19. Branden Evans

    Branden Evans6 months ago

    Do you guys have any more mpq videos ?

  20. Jarory de Jesus

    Jarory de Jesus6 months ago

    This was actually really insightful. Shameless plugs aside, it really highlights something junior game developers tend to struggle with.

  21. Alejandro López Presa

    Alejandro López Presa6 months ago

    I'm trying so hard to take some knowledge out of this 7.5 minutes ad... This is the best I have so far: "even in a simple and boring match 3 you can put a little bit of character presence and unique characteristics by tying some of his skills or characteristics into a small gameplay twist, that might help the game to not being just dumb reskin"...

  22. Luliby

    Luliby6 months ago

    "Blagon Quest. Press 'Beach Ball' to start" got me pretty good! Also I don't know why everyone is saying that this is basically an ad for Marvel PQ. This doesn't feel any different than any other Extra Credits episode and the analysis was legit.

  23. Cage edits

    Cage edits6 months ago

    Make an epesoide abkut great youtube channels to game dev toutorials and tips please

  24. Robby Van Arsdale

    Robby Van Arsdale6 months ago

    Matching these three tiles really makes you *feel* like Spidermam

  25. That random guy

    That random guy6 months ago

    Oh, how i missed extra credits

  26. Angel

    Angel7 months ago

    You can align mechanics with multiple story lines. Portal 2 proved that's possible.

  27. Mega Flare Studios

    Mega Flare Studios7 months ago

    Magic the Gathering is another great example of this

  28. szyburrro

    szyburrro7 months ago

    so how exactly is analysis of mechanics of a given game an advert of this game ?

  29. Dan MDA

    Dan MDA7 months ago

    Spiderman ps4 will include pizza baking mechanic

  30. Gol - Rad

    Gol - Rad7 months ago

    I wonder how they choose colours for videos

  31. Dennis Clausen

    Dennis Clausen7 months ago

    7:06 That moment when you realize your TV is not connected.

  32. Narra Ator

    Narra Ator7 months ago

    So essentially this about squeezing character into a mechanic where it usually wouldn’t fit?

  33. Emerald Queen

    Emerald Queen7 months ago

    Don’t think that I missed those Spyro references... 😉 he’s a great example of limited mechanics (charging, fire breath, gliding, hovering / dropping mid flight, and rolling) telling a wide variety of stories with a wide variety of characters... Hunter, the goofy sidekick / lovable dunce... Bianca, the misguided “villain” / abuse victim...... ECT (I used Hunter and Bianca just because they were the first two to come to mind) Edit: Look here ➡️ this is Bianca’s story told by A LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH THERAPIST (video one of two) (video two out of two) Edit two: I know that the sorceress isn’t Bianca’s actual mother... but she’s a female authority figure and mentor / “motherly” influence for Bianca so that’s my reasoning behind the second video, please don’t hate me!!!!!!

  34. HotPocketBagel

    HotPocketBagel7 months ago

    I’ll admit, you’ve made bad episodes before. Like the 7D2D one that advocated communism. But this takes the cake. Literally just 7 and a half minutes of praise for some cringy licensed match 3.

  35. ShermTank7272

    ShermTank72727 months ago

    All of these quirks are so interesting. I have a soft spot for clever programming & mechanics, especially if it’s in a somewhat limited space

  36. Hayden Oldfield

    Hayden Oldfield7 months ago

    Do one of Pearl harbor

  37. NoBoy Lunatic

    NoBoy Lunatic7 months ago

    Hey! Blagon Quest! And the beach ball!

  38. I Like Google Plus

    I Like Google Plus7 months ago

    Marvel Puzzel Quest was a really good choice for this episode. This was a really interesting epispde about Marvel Puzzle Quest and how good Marvel Puzzle Quest is and everything Marvel Puzzle Quest gets right (Marvel Puzzle Quest gets everything right). You have really persuaded me to spend all of my money on Marvel Puzzle Quest (and I will spend other people's money on Marvel Puzzle Quest too if I don't have enough money to spend on Marvel Puzzle Quest. Now I shall go and play Marvel Puzzle Quest while watching the latest Marvel movies and buying every available Marvel merchandise, so long as the profits go to Marvel. Marvel Puzzle Quest is my life now. Tonight I shall dream of Marvel Puzzle Quest. Tomorrow I shall go to work to earn money to spend on Marvel Puzzle Quest. The next day shall be nothing but Marvel Puzzle Quest. I live to serve Marvel Puzzle Quest. Forty Marvel Puzzle Quests it has taken me to learn what kind of Marvel Puzzle Quest is hidden beneath Marvel Puzzle Quest. O cruel, needless misunderstanding. O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving app. Two gin-scented tears are trickling down the sides of my nose. But it is all right, everything is all right, the struggle has finished. I have won the victory over myself. I love Marvel Puzzle Quest.

  39. Hammie Li

    Hammie Li7 months ago

    The tower part from SpiderMan is absolutely ridiculous. It does not fit the gameplay and is straight up unnecessary.

  40. Get me 169 subs and I will reveal something

    Get me 169 subs and I will reveal something7 months ago

    Are you guys ever going to do the Seminal Catastrophe? You said in your seminal tragedy video you might do it.

  41. Spencer Noblitt

    Spencer Noblitt7 months ago

    This is a terrible game design to discuss. It should be relabeled as "how to trick people into thinking a connect three game is enjoyable". I was actually expecting a discussion on three dimensional characters moving in an open world... not a hey download some freemium game b.s. (I usually love your videos)

  42. Kevin Murphy

    Kevin Murphy7 months ago

    Did you get "The Mechanic Is The Message" from Brenda Romero's game series? If not, check it out!

  43. Mark Guyton

    Mark Guyton7 months ago

    I... don't think a match 3 game was the best way to describe this topic... but sponsors are sponsors and you did a decent job with it.

  44. WinEpic

    WinEpic5 months ago

    No, a Match 3 game is a perfect example. There is no easy way to legitimately convey character in abstract games like puzzle games, and this video explains how the designers got around that.

  45. J2Dragon

    J2Dragon6 months ago

    What makes it unsuitable? Match-3 games have limited mechanics and MPQ gives a sense of character with them. Also their was no mention of sponsorship.

  46. Erno Javikaine

    Erno Javikaine7 months ago

    Ugly duckly the warship that helped win WW2

  47. Michał Tarkowsky

    Michał Tarkowsky7 months ago

    demi-urge, what a greate name LUL

  48. Nerdnumberone

    Nerdnumberone7 months ago

    I wonder how much one should design around convention. Obviously, you can't change the color scheme of Captain America, Ironman, or Hulk to fit whatever game conventions as their designs predate the concept of video games by at least a decade (Hulk came out in 1962, Pong in 1972), but you can generally set the color scheme of new characters through conventions. But what if you have a reasonably compelling lore reason for a new character to not fit convention? How much do you work into the convention? In real life, colored uniforms are often chosen to show group affiliation, for pragmatic reasons (like camouflage), or for style. Different characters might value these reasons differently based on their personality or affiliations, but I could see a lot of times when this would clash with traditional color coding.

  49. Javier Cueto

    Javier Cueto7 months ago

    Art in this video is on point!!

  50. Arthur Neto Bem

    Arthur Neto Bem7 months ago

    I can't stop thinking about how Pokemon had an amazing design language and now is adding new unwanted mechanics every generation

  51. Overhazard

    Overhazard6 months ago

    Hey, I like the new mechanics. I use them all in head-to-head battling too.

  52. Marsupial Mole

    Marsupial Mole7 months ago

    I feel like the limited scope of match-3 games makes it sort of a poor choice for representing the idea you're pushing here. I don't think the idea is by any means wrong or flawed, i just think that you'd be better off pointing out how it works in games that use it better, like fighting games or MOBAs

  53. J2Dragon

    J2Dragon6 months ago

    But the limited scope is the point!

  54. Overhazard

    Overhazard6 months ago

    No, I think it works. I mean, perhaps it would've been better to begin with an example from a genre where it's more eaisly understood and it's easier to convey personality, then work to this. But Meteos did exactly this with a match-3 system almost 20 years ago.

  55. Jason723612

    Jason7236127 months ago

    I play this game since I was 8

  56. Adam Faulconbridge

    Adam Faulconbridge7 months ago

    In case anyone is trying Marvel Puzzle Quest, note that (at least when I tried it a few years ago) all purchases are stored client side. So, if your computer dies you loose everything you paid for *and* you can memory edit the game to give you billions of in game currency easily. Character design, great; software design, not so much.

  57. dragonbretheren

    dragonbretheren7 months ago

    FFXIV also utilizes a uniform set of boss mechanics to make all bosses feel unique. They accomplish this typically by how the boss uses those mechanics, and occasionally, how the boss' stage, itself, interacts with those mechanics. For example, Leviathan and Sophia both use stage-tilt mechanics, wherein the stage will tilt, and if you're not positioned correctly, you may fall off the stage (which is an instant death). However, the way each boss uses it enforces their character design. Leviathan, the giant sea snake, dives under water. This immediately has the players start looking around in panic for where he might surface. Before emerging, he will blow a large spout of water (accompanied by a localized sound-effect for good measure), cuing the players that he will emerge from that corner, flop onto the raft that the players are using as a combat platform, and tilt the raft in that direction. Sophia, on the other hand, is a deity of balance, and you fight atop her massive scale of good and evil. Periodically, she will declare that the balance is tipping and drop meteors onto each end of her scale, and whichever side gets more meteors will be heavier, thus tipping the scale (and the platform on which the players stand) in that direction. At the root, they are both the same mechanic with mechanically similar tells, but the way they are used create two very different thematic boss experiences.

  58. Shawn Heatherly

    Shawn Heatherly7 months ago

    Wow, I'm really impressed by how well that Marvel Puzzel Quest sells its characters' abilities and personalities.

  59. Rackneh

    Rackneh7 months ago

    I'm reallllllyy not interested in candycrush for kids. thanks.

  60. Noname Nobody

    Noname Nobody7 months ago

    MPQ is a brain-bending example of so many Great and Terrible mechanics both, I cannot properly express this dichotomy, save with one observation: Jubilee is in Marvel Puzzle Quest at the four-star rarity tier(next from the top).

  61. Lilith Dodecahedron

    Lilith Dodecahedron7 months ago

    Oh man, now I really wanna play Marvel Puzzle Quest! >:(

  62. R Pamungkas

    R Pamungkas7 months ago

    Watching tetris 99 popularity I think someone should try hero based matching 3 battle royale. I know iwill

  63. Cappocchi

    Cappocchi7 months ago

    Is this sponsored content from Demiurge?

  64. Spring Li

    Spring Li7 months ago

    Reinhardt really reminds me of Braum.

  65. peggy liepmann

    peggy liepmann7 months ago

    Has Marvel Puzzle Quest stopped introducing new characters with waaaaaaaayyyyyy better abilities and stats than preexisting ones? I'm pretty sure they should be on 16 star characters after what I saw the last time I played. That and the lack of story modes beyond a brief tutorial and random temporary stuff killed my interest.

  66. coolcat001100

    coolcat0011007 months ago

    I get into Marvel Puzzle Quest just a month ago and now Extra Credits has made a full video on it? I feel like fate has just aligned the planets into a nice little pattern for me.

  67. Shakaama

    Shakaama7 months ago

    PLEASE : nowhere can I find this, how do I craft a use based leveling system like elder scrolls, where using a swilord hives you sword skill. And can I double down on that and make a sword that kills millions of goblins, to earn goblin slaying exp?

  68. Nathan Brown

    Nathan Brown7 months ago

    It sounds like you already know what mechanics you want. Now you go write code. Or do whatever your preferred programming methodology tells you to do before you get down to writing code.

  69. ike eki

    ike eki7 months ago

    hit that like button if you first heard about ludonarrative from @hbomberguy 👍

  70. Justinian Wiuff

    Justinian Wiuff7 months ago

    Any advice for mmorpgs? Especially those with no plot line?

  71. Thomas Scott

    Thomas Scott7 months ago

    Could you do a video on smash ultimate

  72. AJ Fawxe

    AJ Fawxe7 months ago

    1:18 "I, La Pucelle, vow to be your sword. To protect you no matter what." Hate me if can see your keyboard through your tears.