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The Principles of Game Design

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The Principles of Game Design

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This booklet outlines important aspects of game design including; controls, mechanics, gameplay (achievements, competition and challenge), learning, immersion, storyline (characters, plot, location), graphics and sound.

This booklet outlines important aspects of game design including; controls, mechanics, gameplay (achievements, competition and challenge), learning, immersion, storyline (characters, plot, location), graphics and sound.

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The Principles of Game Design

  1. 1. the principles of game design a resource provided free of charge from education.instanttechinfo.com
  2. 2. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 2 performance performance is crucial when it comes to game design as players have certain expectations regarding controls and game mechanics. it is important to design a game that is fun and imaginative, but at the same time realistic and logical - here are a few tips: controls example, players have the following expectations for car games: left button: steers car to the left right button: steers car to the right accelerate button (eg. ‘x’ on playstation): speeds the car up brake button (eg. ‘square’ on playstation): slows the car down having controls that differ from these standard rules can cause confusion and often a negative gameplay experience. your controls should always be logical and complement the game. good control schemes occur to the player naturally, meaning they shouldn’t have to think about what button to press.
  3. 3. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 3 mechanics game mechanics relate to how the player interacts with the game’s world. based on fundamental constructs, game mechanics aim to create a believable environment for the player. common types of game mechanics include: - gravity - walking - aiming & shooting gravity important to game mechanics is gravity (a force that pulls an object towards the centre of a planet). when creating a world, you need to consider how strong the force of gravity is. will it be similar to earth’s? or will it be weaker, as if you were on the moon? similar to controls, players have expectations. when they drop a ball on earth, they expect it to bounce back up. if they throw an object, it will gradually lose momentum. aiming & shooting if your game has a shooting element, there are standard mechanics present in games. for example: - the bullet will only travel a certain distance - the bullet may not penetrate all surfaces (eg. concrete) - the player has a viewfinder to align their weapon, and the bullet will fire at the target as seen in the viewfinder similar to controls, the mechanics should be logical and suit the environment. deviating from the norms can create an uncomfortable gaming experience.
  4. 4. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 4 gameplay & playability gameplay is another form in which the player interacts with the game. it is separate from mechanics, audio and visual and focuses more on the storyline, characters and the player’s emotional experience with the game. satisfaction & motivation satisfying and motivating the player is an important part of your gameplay. without recognition for achievements, players will simply lose interest and stop playing the game. here are common ways to motivate and satisfy players: achievements achievements provide the player with a reason to continue playing the game, rather than just playing the game to finish it. achievements are often the result of completing in-game tasks and challenges. examples include: - defeating a boss - earning a certain amount of experience points (xp) - consecutive first place wins - accumulating wealth - earning social status
  5. 5. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 5 competition & challenge competition works alongside achievements, providing players with a reason to continue playing. a popular form of competition in video games is the leaderboard. a leaderboard allows players to make their achievements public, assigning them a rank. players then compete amongst the game’s community to reach the top. not all games are suited to leaderboards however, and physical resources are required to maintain the service (ie. servers). socialisation many new games incorporate a social aspect, commonly offering audio chat for players. through socialisation, players are able to: - help others and develop teamwork skills - complete missions and earn achievements collectively - develop long-term friendships - engage in friendly conversation social networking is not suitable for all games, and both the positives and negatives need to be evaluated before implementing a social feature.
  6. 6. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 6 learning games should also be beneficial to the user, with many games effectively developing a variety of skills including: patience and perseverance forward thinking and strategic planning leadership and socialisation mental and creative development sympathy and empathy logic development obeying rules/laws and, following instructions your game should aim to incorporate a few of these skills. how they are implement depend on your game’s style and relevance to the gameplay/storyline. examples include: - incorporating a social component - setting the player specific missions to complete - a game that focuses on developing human relationships (eg. simulators) - puzzle games
  7. 7. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 7 immersion it is important to keep players engaged! if your game doesn’t contain an immersive experience, they may lose interest and discontinue playing the game. immersion is a fairly vague term, however covers a broad range of fundamental principles (many of which are discussed in this resource). immersion involves: interesting storyline many players seek to invest in a game with an interesting an engaging storyline - characters, locations and events that happen throughout the game should evoke emotion and connect to the players on an emotional level. spectacular audio/visuals mind-blowing graphics accompanied with riveting audio should complement the gameplay and storyline developed in your game. gradual difficulty increases it is important to gradually increase the difficulty of your game to keep the players challenged. finding a balance is important, as games that increase difficulty quickly/abruptly may discomfort the player, and they may no longer enjoy the game. however if the change is too slow/subtle, players may not feel challenged enough and lose interest.
  8. 8. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 8 limited intense analytical/strategic think- unless your game is a puzzle or strategy game, limit the amount of heavy thinking you reply your players to do. games should be enjoyable, and if your game becomes a burden you risk losing players. customisation this may not apply to your game, however players like the ability to customise their characters. customisation allows people to express themselves, connecting them further to their character (and hence, the game). escapism many people game to ‘escape’ their life in reality. your game should develop a world that seems realistic, but at the same time different to ‘the real world’. escapism often involves role-playing where the player is able to live the life of the game character.
  9. 9. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 9 storyline the debate between the importance of storyline and gameplay is ongoing, however many agree that the best games incorporate both aspects effectively. storyline has the ability to illuminate gameplay, providing meaning and purpose to a game that may otherwise lack substance. there are multiple parts to an effective storyline: characters characters are the connection between the player and the game’s world, and are therefore crucial to all video games. characters have the ability to: - immerse the player in a first person experience - connect to and relate with the player on an emotional level - develop storyline important tips to consider when developing a game character: what do they look like? what are their thoughts, beliefs and values? what is their backstory? and, what is their role in the game? who are they connected to? what is their relationship (friend/foe)?
  10. 10. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 10 location & setting without location and setting, you wouldn’t have a video game. it is important to develop a world that suits the storyline of your game. for example, if you are creating a soccer game, it should be set on a soccer field - not in space. as mentioned earlier, the location also influences the mechanics, meaning that playing soccer on the moon would be impossible. video game worlds should also consider the following fundamentals: culture: does your world have a single or many cultures? how does this influence your world? aesthetics: what does your world look like? is it reminiscent of earth or set in a completely different galaxy? what year is it? morals and values: what do people find important/what do they value? what morals guide their decisions and actions? laws: what societal laws are there, and why? how are these laws enforced? what happens if they are broken? depending on the complexity of your game, you may chose to only investigate some aspects in depth. also consider how the location is significant to the character (for example, did they grow up there? are they a refugee?), and what their relationship is with the environment (for example, are they on the run?).
  11. 11. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 11 events that happen along with characters and locations, you need to create a plot to develop your game. game plots follow a similar structure to traditional stories and movies, however are more complex and dynamic due to their interactive nature. a fundamental narrative structure is the story mountain: each video game story is different, and you may not necessarily need follow the structure of the story mountain to produce a quality plot. here are a few questions you may want to consider when developing a plot: - what are the histories of the characters and the world? - is there an event in this history that caused conflict? - who is the conflict between (and why)? - what form of conflict is it? - who is able to solve the conflict (and why /how)? background/introduction introduce characters and setting rising action events leading up to main conflict/climax falling action characters work to solve the conflict climax the conflict resolution the conflict has been resolved
  12. 12. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 12 graphics players are more likely to become immersed in a game that feels realistic. an effective way to induce a sense of realism is through the game’s visual experience. players appreciate video games with graphics that: are aesthetically pleasing your game’s graphics should look nice. this may include clever use of colours, textures and fonts. have realistic visual mechanics along with mechanics such as gravity, games should consider effects like weather and lighting to develop a realistic world. weather can support the storyline, as well as create mood: - clear & sunny weather be used in light-hearted, happy games - dark & rainy weather can be used to develop an ominous mood similarly, lighting can be used alongside weather: - soft, global illumination can instil comfort - harsh, directed lighting can develop an eerie, unsettling feeling are suitable for the target audience think about who your target audience is. what type of graphics would they prefer? high quality 3D models or 2D cartoons? what colour scheme? bright and colourful, or dark and eerie? et cetera... keep in mind that if your storyline and character development isn’t strong, great graphics can help boost the player’s experience.
  13. 13. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 13 sound sound is just as important as graphics when it comes to immersing the player and should complement each other. for example, if you shoot a gun, you expect to hear a gunshot right? there are multiple types of audio your game should include: music music has the powerful ability to influence the player’s emotions and develop mood. majority of the game (if not all) should have background music to keep the player engaged. type of music effect fast paced invigorates the player, immersing them in rapid gameplay sad/dramatic/orchestral evokes emotions, engrossing the player in their character’s story and surroundings ambient and sometimes creepy puts the player on edge, inducing emotions that makes them act cautiously/with fear sound effects sound can also be used for audible cues. examples include: - victory sound effect to alert the player when they have completed a goal (or gained a life, obtained a power up etc) - a beeping that increases in speed if an enemy is approaching as mentioned above, sound effects also make the game seem more realistic. for example, if you are driving a car and you press the horn, you’d expect to hear the horn right?
  14. 14. tech tutorials for education education.instanttechinfo.com INSTANT TECH INFO the principles of game design page 14 voice over & narration many games incorporate voice overs and narration for various purposes, and may benefit your video game: they can be used to tell a story and provide additional information that is not evident in the visuals they are able to provide information without the user having to watch cut scenes or read slabs of text voices are used for interaction between characters. hearing a person talk is better than reading subtitles or speech bubbles! now it’s time to start making games!

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