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Game design golden rules
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:30 pm    Post subject: Game design golden rules Reply with quote

Snippets i've picked up from here and there that I always try to keep in mind.

1. Study history and science, there is no copyright on it and you can steal from it as necessary. Almost anything you can think of will have some relevance to a period in history or item of research. Lending from such sources will add weight and consistency to a game i.e. people wont be able to poke holes in your reasoning if it has a basis in reality and it will all feel more real.

2. There is something very attractive about freeform environments, games that let the player do whatever he likes. Be careful in single player not to go to far with this however, a game needs challenges, goals and purpose. A good example is the average mmorpg, they have to be completely open ended and it is very difficult to add any truly meaningful content because thousands of people will be taking part (so you can't change the world). Play them on you own without any social contact and they are extremely dull. As soon as you start interacting with other players they become much more compelling, the players make their own stories.

3. Make sure you reward much more than you punish, people don't play games to constantly fail and feel stupid. Small fairly frequent rewards keep people happy and keep them playing. Use rewards to pull people in the right direction and make sure your rewards don't lead to failure. For example, many rewards involve things like weapons and armour. If one thing is worse than another they need an easy obvious way to see that. Holding 5 different shields and not knowing which is more valuable in terms of money or ability is very bad.

4. Look to include a little bit of customization in the game, people love playing with different combinations. Don't make it fundamental to completing the game though or it can frustrate players. For example, in Starscape you can design your own ships. The game prevents you making a ship that doesn't work and it is very straightforward to get through most of the game with almost any ship design. People love trying out different designs and looking for the elusive KILLER layout, this encourages replayability.

5. Try to include two types of reward a) status rewards that don't really mean anything such as high scores and medals b) meaningful rewards that change gameplay like new areas of the map and new weapons. The status rewards can be introduced regularly while being cheap to implement. The meaningful rewards can be introduced more sparingly and freshen up gameplay that may be starting to go stale.

6. Avoid dead ends they just frustrate people, super players should be able to get through the game without backtracking. Less godlike players should have the option to go back, the option to try a different approach. In deusEx there are different routes to completion, in FinalFantasy you can use random encounters to bulk up to get past a particular difficult boss. You should never be forced to reload a save 10times just to make progress.

7. Let people save whenever they want, if someone wants to eat, go to bed or go to the toilet they should be able to. The side effect is that the design must not encourage progress-save-die-reload cycles. If you keep killing people they will start to rely on saves to get through and this is very bad.

8. If you cannot sum up what your game is about in one sentence then something is wrong. If that sentence is not compelling then something is wrong. Sounds bad I know, but people have little free time and many entertainment options so you need to grab them from the off. For Starscape - retro space blasting action in a genre-mixing freeform world.

9. Accessibility is key, if you can use recognizable everyday concepts and devices then do so. If something is so recognizable it doesn't need explaining then you are on to a winner. People hate reading manuals and usually skip tutorials.

10. Simulation is usually better than scripting, but a sprinkling of scripting can complement a good simulation. Let me define terms. Simulation means the game is open ended and responds based on certain general rules, this often results in emergent behavior that players can explore again and again, often getting a different experience. Scripting means there is a set defined path the player has to follow and specific things will happen in a fixed order. Scripting can be used to develop excellent set piece bits of gameplay, but if the whole thing is scripted then there is limited replayability.

11. The most important element of any game is the user interface, and it is often overlooked. If people cannot understand how to interact with the game, the controls don't feel right or they feel clumsy, then you are lost. People often prefer different methods of interaction whether it be keys, mouse, joystick or a combination. Be careful if you deny them a specific controller as it can instantly turn people off.

12. Focus on deeply emotional, universal concepts that people will feel comfortable with. Heroes, villains, soldiers, indians, cowboys, knights in armour, superman, etc, etc. Also look at films and books to see the traditional and expected way in which characters interact. The trick is to use all these cliche's but avoid simplification, you must add some twist and make it feel new. People expect familiar themes but are sophisticated enough to reject the simple and obvious. An example is the ending in Starscape which is not the usual Hollywood affair Cool but is the culmination of a number of traditional relationships/traits between the crew i.e. you didn't expect it but you can understand why.

13. The world you develop must be consistent and self-supporting, for example, if you have a few odd elements make sure the backstory explains and supports them. If you have breakable crates then make sure all the crates are breakable. If some crates always contain a random selection of ammo then make them look like ammo boxes. Beware making certain doors breakable, if you do then people will expect all doors to be breakable unless some of them are textured to look like they are made of steel. If you have dragons flying around, give them caves to live in and have the occasional one eat a sheep. If you can kill all the sheep then make the dragons attack the town. Everybody understands cause and effect, games break when they show cause and no effect, or effect with no cause.

14. Make something new but base it in the familiar. If you just try to duplicate Command&Conquer but change the graphics then people will see straight through you and you will fail (unless you have a film license attached of course Smile ). It might be a good game, but if it offers nothing new then why should anyone care? If you make something so totally off the wall people don't recognize it then you will probably also fail. Give people something the understand and recognize but take them somewhere new.
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Location: Olympia Washington

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gee i wish more devs read this
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2005 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, be glad StarScape caught the eye of 1 of the Devs of Chrimson Destiny, unless, of course, moonpod would care to develop that Very Happy

Think a more in depth storyline than LOTR and all that schaz Dan keeps feeding me....

heh, feel free to contact me, moonpod, I'll talk to Dan.
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Location: Denver, CO, United States

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

14. If at first you don't succeed, you fail.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the school management should keep the record is essayshark reliable of those students who completed their school life in that specific school. Record is very important as it can tell us many things about the history of that school.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:39 am    Post subject: Great Reply with quote

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