Sunday, 20 March 2011

Elements of Game Design Part 1

Gameplay is all fundamentally linked to how the main character (whether it is a person or vehicle) interacts with the environment or world setting. 
(Or how it adheres to the rules of that world i.e. the Game Mechanics).

How high a ledge is set is all based upon the reach of the character. The pace of the game is set by the speed at which the character travels. 
We tend to impart feeling in describing our gameplay experience. 
"The character feels sluggish" or "feels like I'm weightless, no gravity" 

These things can really ruin a game for me. The more the character feels like they are a part of the world the better the gameplay. 
Daft things like not being able to jump over a 3ft wall break the sense of immersion in a game. 
You feel like you've been tethered to the ground! 

Whether it is Monopoly, Cluedo, Tetris, Final Fantasy or Call of Duty, gameplay is how you interact within the game. 

Games are rarely the product of one mind. 
Mostly they are an idea on a theme, say "Rabbit Detective" which is then fleshed out amongst the team tasked with the project or IP (Intellectual Property). 

"Rabbit Detective"

The game may not even reflect the original concept by the end. 

Programmers involved in the development, may point out to designers that if they shifted an idea in a different direction it may overcome some limitations in their concept.
These changes could also alter the genre of the game, depending on how the gameplay is ultimately affected. 

Some games are developed purely to show off a new piece of technology, for instance the current Kinect games for Xbox 360 - 

So far most of these games look rubbish
(This is the only game I have come across, so far, that looks compelling) 

Or the CryEngine 3 used in Crysis 2. This lets Crytek port their games onto any platform with relative ease.


When discussing game 'genres' it comes down to your personal interpretation. 
If the game is a 'Fantasy RPG', yet features 'Action' gameplay, is it one or the other? Is it both? 

These early classifications are now becoming blurred, with games featuring multiple genre defining characteristics. 

Fable 1,2 and 3 all feature 'Action, Adventure, Puzzles, Fantasy with a dash of 'RPG' 

Because we demand so much in regard to entertainment these days, it makes sense that games have more than one objective or design. 

One other reason for this approach is to deliberately avoid being derivative and unimaginative.

I used to happily blaze through a 'Side-Scroller' or 'Platformer' but now I find that these
new distractions featured in-game, can take up as much of my time playing as the entirety of the game itself. :D

This is simply because they are fun to play. 

Good games are fun. Bad games are no fun. This can be subjective to the player, of course. 
And whether you like just playing 'RPG's', 'FPS' or 'Racing' games, there are usually a few sub-genres in there, if you fancy a little something different.

I thought I'd run-off a list of the current big names in Games Design - 

Shigeru Miyamoto - Nintendo's golden goose.

Hideo Kojima - The Conscientious Director.

Shinji Mikami - George A. Romero of Video Games.,47337/

Richard Lemarchand - No stranger to an Adventure game.,20070/

Hironobu Sakaguchi - Saviour of Square (Now Square-Enix)

Clifford Michael "Cliff" Bleszinski - The Cog in The Unreal Engine.

Peter Douglas Molyneux - Composer of Falsehoods (Fable, 2, 3)

Christian Allen - War Games Extraordinaire.


This website lists the Top 10 Developers leading the way forward -


Here are a few interesting articles published by Designers -

An interview with Gameplay Designer Christina Norman of Bioware - 

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