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Philosophical Discussion: Game Design

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by This_Game_Lags, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    I keep thinking about how to make a fun game. I want to make the best game ever! Do you ever feel this way? Then your project becomes your baby. The more it grows the more you worry about it.

    I keep thinking about the code. Every different possible way to handle the same action.
    Unity is great for creating games. The best one I have come upon and I see it popping up in games on PS4.
    Unity handles coding games well. I prefer c#.

    Then I think about... wait... What is a game?
    In my understanding of what games are
    and what has been considered a game is:
    A set of rules created for recreation.

    Now, why would anyone purposely follow rules as a form of entertainment? I don't know.
    But I do it because some crap in my brain makes it where when I get focused on doing a routine
    and become immersed.

    So the goal of a developer (at least in my opinion) should be to get the user immersed into a set of rules.

    But these rules!! They can be anything you can imagine or they can adhere to a genre. Genres including (but never limited too; In no particular order.)
    • First Person Shooters - Rules including: 3D Environment; Forward facing camera; Handling of projectile; Handling of destructible.
    • Role Playing - Rules including: Playing a Role. (Role: the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.)
    • Tag(Yes, that game you played as a child.) - Rules including: Something is "it". If "it" touches you, you become "it". "What strange matter is this?"

    As you already should know: There are many types of games and people are creating rules and rules are being added to games faster than we can communicate. Constantly trying to balance skills, resource management, damage, and how these are handled are refined and tuned.

    To what end do we play?

    What is the point of the game? Why would anyone choose to progress through it? Will there be an end? Why should it end? How do you make a game that never ends? What collection of rules will create an immersive experience that will continue endlessly?

    I am struggling to even start a game as I play with mechanics and think about all the possibilities. Where to even start is coming to: What do I want to play?

    An RTS... It's competitive and only requires a few things to start. Real Time Strategy games are often just: Two teams, Unit(s)* per team, A win condition. The win condition can be as simple as: The team with the most surviving units at the end of a round wins. Maybe you want to do something a bit more King Of The Hill and you get points by controlling points on the map. I don't know, this really can be anything. Even be more creative and say, "I win because my units have discovered the alphabet and wrote a joke so funny that all your units laughed; except Douglas but he doesn't count."
    *Unit: (noun) an individual thing.

    No, an RTS isn't quite all I want to play.. It should also be an FPS! First Person Shooter games are not too complex. A camera acts as the eyes of a player in a 3D world space. Often the standard PC FPS controls are used (we should all know them.) As long as something gets destroyed from clicking we cannot be happier! It does get better when that something you are clicking at is also clicking back at you and trying to out think you. Woot! Headshot! That's skill right there! This ever-returning genre (like RTS) is based highly on dexterity (and internet connection.) We love that there is an element of us in every achievement and the outcome was dynamic.

    But I want an immersive story and characters!! I want to feel like this isn't a game but a reality that I am getting a peak at through this almost literal window; An RPG is what I need. Role Playing Games (huh why is games boldedd)
    are really self explained. You play as a character; This character often has a path. I never understood why RPG's were so strict on how you spent your time in the game; until I started trying to develop them. An RPG (also like an RTS) has, at minimum, a unit and a win condition. Unlike other games, role playing games often develop the character(s) as you play them. This is the appeal. Now it starts to feel like your actions are directly affecting the mood of the game. Your character's survival rate increases and drops with your decisions.

    But what I really want is to invent a new sport! Sports games can often lean heavily into sport simulation; Where you are accurately trying to recreate the experience of a sport. Maybe though, you want to create a new sport. How do you even go about this? Well, maybe you can dig up some old rules from games you played as a child and fine tune them for an entertaining experience in a simulated world. Blitz Ball in Final Fantasy X is a good example. Angry Birds can also fit this genre. (Think: Bowling)

    How about just a fighting game.. Fighting Games can be as simple too. You can use 2D box colliders and create/check collision/destroy (on input) at different heights offset from a player box collider.

    Ok.. I think I have decided.. I want to make all of that stuff!! So, where to start...

    I guess then we need to extract the rules and lay them out.

    • A unit can be created.
    • A unit can be destroyed.
    • A unit has health.
    • A unit can deal damage to other units.
    • A unit can move.
    With those set of rule alone I could create a thousand games. We can go for days with all the different ways a unit can deal damage and how health is handled. Don't forget about all the different types of movements. With just these few rules and a bit of creativity we have just about every RTS. So lets extract more rules.

    • Items exist and carrying one modifies a unit somehow.
    • Structures exist and they can do things.
    • A Resource unit exists and can be used for many things.
    • Props exist and may or may not do things.
    • A unit can carry items
    • A unit can build structures
    • A unit can create dynamic 2D collider shapes to deal damage or increase health of other units.
    • Props can be items and items can be props.
    With this added set of rules with can build many RTS, RPG, and other games. We could keep extracting rules until we have figured out all the rules of games.

    • Vehicles
    • Destructibles
    • Parameters
    • Lore
    • Puzzles
    • Quests
    • Relationships
    • Technology
    Ugh... It goes on and on and does not end until you have exhausted all of your will to continue to discover or recycle what is available.

    So lets look at games of the past and what we see that survived ages:

    Mazes: These we love because it's simple path finding. We feel achieved upon escaping the challenge. PacMan is a good example of a maze puzzle game that has lasted through the ages; Even is an item collecting games.

    Item Collecting: Collect enough of a certain item; get a reward. This is likely stemming from ancestral harvesting and gathering roots. Mario is a good example: Collect 100 coins get a 1-UP.

    Logic Puzzles.

    There is so much more but I am tired and should just create the thread already. What is your opinion on a good game and where to start?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  2. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    With the prototype :)
     
  3. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    I think I meant Designer's prospective. lol

    I just can't get the angle of attack to tackle a large project as a solo.
     
  4. Neoku

    Neoku

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    Is a subjective question, really a good game dev is a code that run as the game design says.
     
  5. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    That's why prototype.
     
  6. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    There it is.
     
  7. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    A large project can be designed by a single person. I have designed many large projects; none completed. I didn't want to complete them. I just wanted to enjoy designing games. This is not about coding, this is about designing.

    I want to design a large project but I am having trouble with how to approach designing a game; from another's philosophy.

    Mine is to:
    • Pick core mechanics
    • Develop interesting Characters/Plot

    But the problem I came across was that after playing my prototypes I wasn't enjoying them as much as I wanted too. I want to know what your opinions are on what makes a game enjoyable, or what makes you want to play a game.
     
  8. ensiferum888

    ensiferum888

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    I think hippcoder is right, prototyping is your best bet. If your game isn't fun with S***ty graphics and no sounds there's a very big chance it still won't be fun with amazing graphics and music.

    On the idea of where to start my idea would be start at the bottom. Of course you first need to know which kind of game you want to make. For example when I got Unity I did one tutorial to make a space invader clone, then I tried making a tower defense game but I was not into it so I abandoned the project. I always wanted to make a medieval city building game so I started looking at how I could start.

    The first thing I did was make a terrain, then I found a tutorial on how to create roads. Then I started reading on PathFinding, eventually I started placing green boxes on my terrain to represent buildings, and blue capsules to represent villagers. And from there I just kept adding and adding, we need resources, we need people to consume those resources. Eventually I started looking into modeling and texturing and gradually replaced my green boxes with actual buildings, and capsules with actual people. And now I'm 19 months in (I work on it part time as I go to school and have another full time job) I still consider it a prototype.

    It's not for everyone, it's definitly not for you if you intend to make a living out of it, but if your only intent is to make an amazing game stop thinking and start prototyping.
     
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  9. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    I changed the title to fit more with what I am asking about.
     
  10. ensiferum888

    ensiferum888

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    The problem is you can't know what's going to be fun until you actually play it. Designing is fun yes but the only way to actually see if it's fun is to test it.

    Just like when you first start cooking, you can't be sure what you're making will be good, so you experiment, taste, adjust and so on. Eventually you'll be an amazing cook and you'll be able to know if what you're making will be good or not before trying it but this takes experience. And you gain experience by trying recipes and tasting them.

    Same here, you have two options, either take a recipe that's been proven to be excellent or invent your own but without all those years of design experience you can't tell in advance what will be fun or not. We can discuss what everyone enjoys in a game here if that's what you want sure, but we can't tell you how to design fun games.
     
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  11. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    My view is, people are inherently creative, playful beings, and without being immersed in or believing in some kind of fantasy, we're capable of joyfully taking anything lightly and having fun with it. The fun comes from within as an expression of that playful nature. It doesn't require that a `game` be set up to intentionally be a game. You can play with anything if you so choose. You can turn anything into a game (think of how kids use their imagination here). So the game is, to begin with, and continues to be, always INSIDE the player's mind.

    I think that what we formally call `a game`, a video game, is an `intentional game`, where some of the decisions about what to play with and how to play with it are somewhat decided for you, and then it's up to you to go along with it, or resonate with it, or `allow it` to seem to affect you in a certain way. Always though people are still the ones who choose what they experience and how they experience it... it's just that many people choose to go at least slightly unconscious, to `immerse` themselves in a fantasy, to give up a certain sense of disbelief (suspend disbelief) and `play along` with suggestions. This is how they seem to buy into a game. It requires putting aside a certain amount of ... sanity... and awareness of the whole picture, in order to enter into a kind of fictional state, immersed in imagination and pretense. Some people more than others stay more aware, some really like to lose themselves. But this is all happening in the mind, regardless of what is on the screen. On its own, a game is absolutely nothing, it's entirely up to the user what THEY see in it and what they bring to it. The game just seems to try to coerce certain reactions or decisions out of them, it's all about trickery and persuasion and attempting to offer the user some kind of a `ride` - a mental adventure - which they may or not choose to participate in.

    So there really can't be a `game` without the user's willingness to pretend that they are unaware of something, in order to narrow down their perception and put themselves in a little box and to then pretend that they can't get out of it. They have to accept certain imposed limits as if they're real hard limits, in order for there to be a challenge. I mean, if the game is saying, hey you can't move past this gate without a key, in terms of the game you have to get the key to get past the gate, but the player also has another option - stop playing the game, which solves the `problem` - it may not show them what's on the other side of the gate but they can step outside of the fantasy and deflate the entire thing at any time. But people choose to stay inside the fantasy, provided the fantasy doesn't turn them off or trigger certain negative reactions, which causes them to snap out of it or reject it. Essentially I think you can only `play along` with a game if you choose to in some way be a victim, and to in some way impose a limit on yourself, and do so in order to meet this totally fabricated scenario where there are things you cannot do because of some made up rules, which you accept for the sake of then having to find a solution within the rules. And for what purpose? Well, people seem to enjoy it. They like to play at having problems to solve. It's all a great bit distraction for the mind. I think there are also bigger, more spiritual reasons why people do this, but I won't get into that.
     
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  12. TheSniperFan

    TheSniperFan

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    What @hippocoder is referring to this:


    An iterative approach to software development. You create your first prototype as fast as possible, then test it to find out where it's lacking, then evolve it. The same thing applies to game design.


    You need to forget about finding "the idea". That's not how reality works. Sure, you may get lucky and find the best idea by coincidence, but that's usually not the case. We once had a visitor from a large corporation in the university, whose job it was to make people get ideas. I am not kidding. The thing is that people approach creative processes the wrong way.
    One example he told us about was when he was with a group of designers, which should design advertisements. He tasked them to design an ad for cigarettes with only one condition: A teddy-bear had to be part of it. They had plenty of time (I think half an hour). A considerably large portion of the group wasn't able to finish within the time limit. "We simply didn't have enough time." was their main excuse.
    Their next task was similar. Cigarette ad with a teddy-bear. "You'll design 10 each. I'll be back in 5 minutes". He made sure that he was dead serious about that and left the room. 5 minutes later he came back and not a single designer had less than 5.

    It was an important lesson. Their task was to create AN advertisement, not THE advertisement, the definite one, the best one.

    If the beginning phase of your game design process includes you discarding your own ideas, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Numbers matter. Produce as many ideas as you can. Even if they're ridiculous or stupid. Write them down (in your head does neither work nor count). If you're at the point where you don't any new ideas, keep digging. That's when the unique ones come up sooner or later.

    You need to practice this. The habit of disregarding ones own ideas because they're bad/stupid/ridiculous/... isn't something you unlearn just by wishing.


    tl;dr version:
    During the designing phase, you strive to create as many ideas as possible. After you have a considerable amount (which could take weeks), you lean back, look at the list and extract those, that have the most potential.

    During the development phase, you prototype and iterate...a lot.
     
  13. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Mods should move this to Game Design forum. It is a perfect fit. And yes I thought you were struggling with the complexity of a very large project scope.

    For game design itself I will have to read again when on computer this evening and see if I have anything to contribute.
     
  14. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    @TheSniperFan has understood exactly what I am saying. The prototype-iterative approach also allows you to better grasp the extents of the project for both design and implementation. Without a prototype you would need decades of experience and still end up pushing a prototype out regardless.

    Prototypes aren't just to make the game, they're to design it too. Much like a living document.
     
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  15. AndrewGrayGames

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    I've written a couple of games now (see signature,) so I've learned a few lessons (this is ongoing.)

    The idea for the premise of the work is somewhat secondary; ideas set the content. For example, "Zombies vs. Knights" is the content; I chose to make it a cut-down RTS (and, I cut the RTS conventions down way too much), but it could have been a First-Person "Shooter" (as much as possible with Knights...and Zombies, for that matter) as well. Based on that game's reception (lukewarm, and rightly so), where I went wrong wasn't the idea - Zombies vs. Knights has quite a few views! No, it was the adherence to the genre. There's a large body of works that call themselves RTSes - I deviated too far. So, a best practice: adhere to a genre.

    A question to ask yourself - can you create a vertical thin slice that adheres to the conventions of your target genre? This is something that has recently worked for me on my current project, "Sara the Shieldmage". For instance, I reasoned the following things are things a Eastern-style RPG must have*:
    1. At least one player character. Eastern RPGs specifically imply a party of characters with limited customizability, since in this genre characters serve the plot, and the ethos of the genre is to emphasize the party's growth from a bunch of rag-tag individuals, to a band of fire-forged friends who save the world.
    2. At least one town where the player gets quests, information, and can purchase supplies.
    3. For that matter, at least one quest. You need a reason to be doing things. In a Eastern RPG, the overarching quest arc should be to save the world from conquest or outright destruction; nothing less will suffice. Eastern RPG villains don't know what the word 'subtle' means (in fact, most villains don't, but that's a different topic.) The game's victory condition is completing this quest!
    4. A world map that serves to make travel manageable for the player's time constraints, and your resource constraints. If you had infinite resources, you could make an infinitely realistic world. You don't, though.
    5. At least one dungeon with treasure and the objective of a quest.
    6. Random battles in a place where it makes sense, to provide a chance for the player to lose.
    7. A main menu that lets you use supplies, review relevant stats, and interact with non-battle game systems.
    My current, rough, super rough thin-slice has most of these things, and so far the feedback has been positive. I can now expand the slice to cover more of the game (e.g. more enemies, more quests, more dungeons, more towns, more characters, maybe throw in a new mechanic if it is able to be justified.)

    So, I suggest starting with the concept, but only so far as it will define what your content will be, and what conventions you will adhere to. Don't spend too long. Where you start implementing is once you've identified the genre conventions you'll be adhering to (and, breaking in very small, but cool ways. That's very important.)

    *: I am not calling them "JRPGs". Eastern RPGs follow a generally eastern set of ideas, some of which are explained in what I identified a Eastern RPG as typically having. Also, JRPG implies that the game was created in Japan. I live in Austin, Texas. This is not Japan. Yay for rudimentary geographical knowledge!
     
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  16. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    I have to say this is spot on in my opinion. Prototyping/play testing is how I try out ideas, determine if feedback is good or needs to be improved and see opportunities for adding a new play mechanic or improving on the original idea.
     
  17. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

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    That's not a big deal, because you have very little chance of finishing a large project as a solo either.

    If you can't even figure out the angle of attack... that's a key indicator that you're simply in over your head.
     
  18. imaginaryhuman

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    I like the idea of the prototype being part of designing... planning to very basically prototype my current game and not dive into the proper artwork/effects until later.
     
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  19. DanSuperGP

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    Paper prototyping is a core part of my game design process. Even before the first digital prototype, the first prototype I build is on paper. Nothing channels creative power like Mr Sketch fruit scented markers.
     
  20. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I can't recommend this strongly enough: prototype on paper. Trading card games, role-playing games, and strategy games are obvious candidates -- after all, they started as paper games! But you can do the same thing with platformers, adventure games, shmups, even shooters. It's so much faster than prototyping on a computer. You can iterate a dozen or more ideas a day like this, which will help you find and refine the gems. And since you haven't invested any effort into creating assets and battling technical hurdles, it's easier to let ideas go.
     
  21. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Mind link! :)
     
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  22. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Funny story - again on Sara the Shieldmage.

    So, my sidescrolling puzzle-platformer version died. You know how someone earlier said, "if you don't know the angle of attack, that's a red flag?" I saw that flag waving. So, I took a week off from the game to re-evaluate. I did this, by playing other games.

    I played a few, too. Final Fantasy XIII-2, Dragon Warrior I, Pokemon Gold. I read my D&D sourcebooks, because I wanted some ideas. There was some The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim too.

    That's when I remembered that paper prototypes are a thing. I got an old chess timer, wrote some stuff on index cards, fished out some d6es from the far recesses of my room...and got started. After a few hours, and a few spent index cards, I had a simple battle system set up. The size of the cards helped - with limited paper space, I couldn't go crazy with adding worthless stats. I had to focus.

    My campaign was a total of three battles - Sara with her current moveset (Holy Shield, Mediguard, Thornguard, Restorum) versus a Cave Slime, a Green Dragon, and the Big Bad of my setting, an ancient soldier named Rosflugel (no, not my Planetside 2 character!) I experimented with increasing and reducing stats, I actually put my Time to Defeat function to the test and reaffirmed it.

    This inspired me to revisit the idea of an Eastern RPG. I already had a dead prototype for a previous project. So, I got to work. The project lives once again. So far, it's working out reasonably well; I actually can focus on adding enemies!
     
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  23. DanSuperGP

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    The indie game I currently have in development was prototyped start to finish on paper in 3 hours. The actual gameplay implementation required one adjustment, a feature that had to be added to disrupt a too powerful strategy that wasn't obvious from the prototype.

    The gameplay is done, I put the project on the back burner while I was waiting for the new UI to finish up. Now that it's done I just need to do UI and Sound, and I'm basically ready to ship...

    I need to get off my ass and do it...
     
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  24. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    Ok, so I like what I have read here, although a bit redundant. This is the discussion I was looking for... In not particular order I will address the situation.

    Prototyping:

    Your medium for prototyping is irrelevant. As I had mentioned, I do my prototyping mentally and can test it in my head and even break down all the small pieces into mental pseudo code. Although, code isn't what makes the game. The game is just rules you think up for other to follow for some recreational means. That means prototyping cannot be the first step to game design; although an important one.

    Genre Choosing:

    This is what I usually start with; Deciding a genre then prototyping a basic model, then deciding features. Asvarduil mentioned this and I agree it's a great method to start if you don't know where else to start and you are more interested in quantity of products rather than the quality of the individual. (Also mentioned by: The Sniper Fan - IN HIS - advertisement analogy. But this isn't the beginning for everyone, and doesn't necessarily mean this is the best possible route. Genre's were invented by someone and refined by others to become a standard.

    From a philosophical stand point these two methods for producing a game cannot truly be the start.

    I would like to point out some quotes from imaginaryhuman:

    This seems to be the most accurate description of a game from a designer standpoint. Video games are just trying to trick the player into playing. So the player is persuaded to continue to some end and usually its a balancing between Challenge/Reward.

    After reading:
    "http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/29/the-complete-rules-for-games"


    I have noticed that what imaginaryhuman is spot on with how people feel when playing games. And we move to the next quote.

    Being aware of something, whether it's intentional or unintentional. This is really the core of gaming. We are aware that we can quit at any time. Losing that awareness is what I believe I strive for when playing a game. Forgetting that I can just quit and that the world won't end if I stop playing. Like the "Neverending Story" he didn't want to quit reading because to him the book was real!

    So a goal as a designer should be to design around the perception of the user. To work with tricks to immerse the user and make them believe what is taking place is real; as a magician does.

    So we come back around to: "Where do I start?"

    I can start by giving the user control of one unit, many units, or no units at all. Then the struggle comes from how the user can interact. Interactions from user to game can become overwhelming themselves. Do you want to try something new or do you want to go with what works. Then how do you know what works for them will work for you? (Well, this comes down to prototyping user interactions. Diablo 1 did this and was a huge success.)

    My philosophy for game design has be pushed into a realm of never ending research, thought, exploration, and testing. I hardly get to the testing phase because as soon as I come up with what I think is a fresh idea, I can Google it and find games that do it better than what I had in mind. So it becomes a process of Research->Idea->Design->Research->Idea->Design->ect.

    I am not interested in making a game for money or fame. I am making a game that I can enjoy playing with friends that doesn't get stale and stays fresh even though I had it open for a few months and haven't really given much of a break to it.

    I want to play a game that has more playable hours than development hours.

    I think of the ideals for endless gaming are:

    • Endless challenge
    • Endless Progression
    But the problem comes from: So I start with a human. The human can gain sword skills to fight simple creatures. The sword skills progress, so to must the challenge. The challenge increase to now the creatures have ranged attacks. So to the user must progress toward ranged attack or defenses. This is a split progression that adds a new challenge. We are chaining challenges and this is a step toward the endless game.

    Move forward: Now you have high defenses, high health, high attack. You have been rewarded with your ability to destroy 100's of creatures with only 1 swing. Your character is so powerful that the only way to complete with the direct proportioning of Character->Creature is to make creatures become redundantly more powerful that your character. This tends to break realism and leads to the: "There are some impassable rocks. I would rather quit because the other side of these rocks are more impassable rocks."

    So we have to be more clever with our challenges; to write characters for the user to become attached too. This was noticed in Telltale games: The Walking Dead.

    The mechanics are different from most games but it is used to give a dynamic story telling and parts of the game force you to make decisions about key NPC's and makes you decide the fate of the individuals. This creates new challenges and also creates replay value.

    But creativity comes at a price. Now people have to learn a whole new system of controls and also, some people (me included) don't want to be told a story. We want to create one in a world that takes our personality and personal opinions into mind.

    Every game... You're the hero.. You need to save the day.

    It's tiring. What game does a hero play to get away from all the endless saving of the day?

    Where do you start when you don't know where to start?

    (Btw: I have been designing and coding, sporadically, for the past 15 years as a hobbyist.)


    ADDED (Light OT):
    http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/is-murdering-innocent-npcs-fun.286706/

    This is another debate of game design philosophy. Personally, I find killing harmless things in video games amusing. I like gibbing random npc's who have no point but to exist for the sake of environment. If you don't give me the option to kill them I will lose interest because now I feel less powerful because I can wipe out tons of enemies without questioning motive but I can't kill a pedestrian because he is protected by an invisible force that makes him invincible.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  25. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    How about Lens #1 of Jesse Schell's Art of Game Design: Essential Experience. Schell gives a lot of examples, but one of his approaches is to reflect on remarkable experiences in real life: what it felt like to play tag as a kid, or the wonder of what's around the bend when hiking an unfamiliar trail in the woods. Start from real life, from a core emotional experience, and build your game design to support it. I think it's similar to what writers do. They avoid writer's block (which is a variation on what you're describing) by keeping a journal that they can draw from.
     
  26. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    That is actually really good. Often I forget what is appealing in games because I have played so many and I can predict "what's around the bend".

    But this reminds me that fore-knowledge of what is around the bend is devastating to that experience. I am having trouble on where to start because I am sitting at the end looking back. When I need to look forward and give new experiences based on past ones.

    When you don't know, if just around that corner is a dragon or a loot chest! Foreshadowing to build mood and writing an adventure of the mind is really what we are doing..

    Great post!!
     
  27. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    A few thoughts...

    The game starts in the mind of the developer. The 'idea'. The developer begins playing it inside of the idea, expanding the idea. Some people have so much fun in their mind that the game never gets made, lolol ... talking from extensive personal experience, I eventually realized the ideas I was having were actually an 'enjoyable experience' in their own right, but at the same time this was not getting the game into production for others to play ;-) Sharing is important? When you decide to share the idea, the creation, now you're getting into how to ... connect your mind to other people's minds, and your heart to their heart. How do you do that? You use the medium of game design etc to try to build a sort of interface. You might think then that the interface itself and its existence, is the goal of game development - if the form of the game seems to be great, then somehow it's a good game. But the game itself is not important. What's important is that your mind joins to other minds and shares an experience, and so the game is only a device or medium through which that can happen. I think a lot of people get hung up on the game 'itself' as if its is all that is important - but I think what is vastly more imprtant is that you communicate some portion of yourself and attempt to share that with others, so that you are sharing yourself with others, breaking down walls, removing separations, and ultimately demonstrating that . .... people are not separate people. ;-) I think when we focus on getting lost inside the game, inside the medium itself, inside the framework that is holding up that connective link, then we're getting into the 'lower' aspects of consciousness. Games can uplift and connect and inspire and help people be creatively expressive, which is a higher purpose.

    I was thinking about a game like minecraft, or other 'creative' or 'open' games... these games essentially get their own identity out of the way, and are somewhat egoless, in order to make space for the player's own creative input. In a way, they are masterful ways to let people be the most natural - creative - and to be EMPOWERED to express their creativity and to share themselves. A good creative tool begets more creativity. When creativity is open-ended, the thing you create has to itself be capable of being creative, or allowing creativity... this is how there is an extension of creativity with the least amount of diminishing potential. Longevity comes from this! When you create something which is kind of a closed box, or a dead end, or on-rails, or a one-track kind of thought, where you decide all end results ahead of time for the player and trying to be all 'heroic' in how you predict what people want, this shuts down longevity and shuts down creativity and connection. You can play the thing once or twice and get bored, whereas when your own potential is opened up, enhanced, magnified, and you're on some kind of journey of ... personal development.. ... growing as a person through the experience, learning that you have hidden talents you didn't know about, seeing feeback you can be pleased with, etc... now you're embarking down a much more creative road with much greater potential. Now it's less of a game, and more of a canvas for self discovery, and the raising of awareness, and the lifting of thought to a higher level.

    At the moment I'm making a shootemup. It doesn't have especially creative aspects to it though. But what it does try to do is symbolize a very immediate, intense action kind of experience, being in the moment, sharpening awareness, removing boring slow obstacles and replacing them with very short term engagement and interest. Lots of multitasking going on. I'm trying to remove as many obstacles and delays and separations as possible because I think this is also a way to express ... sharing myself openly. I guess that's sort of what we're doing here as developers, isn't it? Trying to build bridges to other people? Or rather, to diminish the distance that creates a sense of separation?

    Anyway, one last thought. ... the medium of the game, which people think is what is important, which is actually just the messanger of 'connection' and 'sharing', is not important. The form of the game is only important in as much as it facilitates the experience you are trying to share. And similarly, being 'a game developer' is not important. You don't need to be an amazing game developer. You only need to get yourself out of the way, get your ego out of the way, in order to start by sharing something from deeper within yourself, or a higher place, which is more open and conductive to sharing, so that you can share that with others. When you get in the way and try to be 'the game developer hero' swooping in to save the day with your next great plan for what other people have to tolerate (yawn), eventually that will turn people off. Allowing a power greater than yourself to work through you, in order to empower other people to be better at letting that same power work through them, is the ideal goal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
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  28. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    Deep.

    Sharing an experience seems to be the ultimate goal in game design.

    To design is to attempt to recreate the experience or the mood of the experience as accurately to what you are trying to share.

    When you have the experience you wish to recreate, you assign rules to guide the experience to the one you are attempting to recreate, then you prototype the experience, then you test the prototype to check accuracy to the experience. Repeat as necessary.

    Is that a summary?


    Then I guess: For sake of conversation and knowledge.

    What are some types of experiences that can be (or are passed through) games?

    Some experiences I see in games are often ones of:

    • Self Survival
    • Group Survival
    • Altruism
    • Puzzle Solution
    • Fear of the unknown
    • Discovery
    • Collection
    • Surprise
    • Resource Management
    • Unit Micro-Management

    I think it's strange that there exists such a thing as a controversial experience.

    • Sex (Much Controversial. Very Excite.)
    • Rape
    • Murder
    • Cannibalism
    • Suicide
    • Child Death
    • Torture
    These experiences can sometimes be considered illegal to simulate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  29. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    You should take a look at the book:

    Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping and Development.
    (from Concept to Playable Game with Unity and C#)
    ISBN: 978-0-321-93316-4
    By Jeremy Gibson
     
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  30. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    I don't know if it's a matter of deciding what experience you want other people to share in. That's still kind of like saying, you yourself are going to decide what kind of an experience the player will have, and they will have exactly only the experience that you say they should have, and you're going to control things so much that they are forced to only have that experience. You can do that, and some people will go along with ie (e.g. maybe a horror game where you want people to be scared, or some funny adventure game where you want people to laugh etc)... and maybe that works to some extent. ... but people are still free to express a wide range of `reactions` to your game, and to have a variety of experiences surrounding it. I think if you are going to shoot for `I will elicit an exact response from a known niche audience` then you have to make sure you know that audience well and target them, otherwise you're going to lose a lot of customers. Maybe the 'genre' you choose has a purpose of letting people know if they clearly fit into that box or not? For example I don't like RPG games.

    I guess you're shooting for some kind of common/collective `likely` experience which you think most people will have, so as to have something to target? It's good to know your audience, they say.. because then you have a goal... provided you really can pigeon-hole your audience like that and target only those people. That's what makes a niche. Then there are games that don't target a niche, and don't target a confined group, and try to be more open to more people. And then there are games with `emergent gameplay` or open sandbox type stuff, where the developer can't really predict what the player is going to do or how they are going to play, and instead provide a set of `possibilities`, sort of procedurally, which could give rise to all kinds of outcomes... and that can be fun too. Not sure what my point is here... . I guess generally that you need to decide whether or not you want to be in control of what people experience, and not just assume that you must be.
     
  31. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

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    That totally reminds me that I need to buy that book. I picked through my bosses copy at my last job and loved it, I shoud totally get my own copy.

    Interestingly enough, that lens is exactly how I approach interface design. I want my interfaces to remind me of physical things.
     
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  32. This_Game_Lags

    This_Game_Lags

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    For me, personally, the target is not a factor. But I like what you are saying. It is true, what you said.

    For targeted experiences you could design your game to a very specific standard. (genre)
    Or for what I am thinking, is design standalone experiences.
    Like writing a short story that is meant to spark a certain emotion.

    Let's say I am writing a game called, "Morals". Each level of the game is a "chapter" in a book of morals. Each level is specifically designed for players to make choices and view the outcome. Each choice you make in that specific scenario has an effect on how the chapter ends. Each level is a specific guided experience.

    Now let's say I wanted to do the same thing, but now I wanted to do it in an open world environment.

    Well, an open world is just taking all the chapters from "Morals" and placing them around the world in instances. So how players can freely take part in the experiences, but they are still the same guided experiences although now, as a designer, I have spent more time with each one individually to really understand them.

    Here is another example of strict experiences in an open world:

    Maybe in my open world environment I have rooms which you can enter and play mini-games. Even those mini-games are strict guided experiences. But from a designer POV it would be easier to design each one individually; getting an understanding of each one.


    Here is what I imagine:

    I design a very specific experience: Going down a rapid river on a canoe.

    I don't want to jump right into designing inventory systems, NPC names and personalities, names of places that I will never see from this specific point or even designing the player's home town which he just came from and having his neighbor watch his dog.

    I just want the experience of going down a rapid river on a canoe.
    From there, maybe I will branch from that experience or I will prototype a new experience.
    It's building a repertoire of experiences.

    But first, before I go shoveling out a list of experiences, I need to look at it from a GAME designer point of view and think about: What experiences are best shared?

    IMO: Anything fun. (Fun is relative, and in lies the problem.)
     
  33. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    You are thinking about this way too hard. Most players just want to shoot stuff.
     
  34. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    Yah you can over think it. At some point, realize you're putting on a 'performance', a performance of imagination, creativity, design, and the output from that becomes your game.
     
  35. RaiuLyn

    RaiuLyn

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    Oh, philosophy? This will be fun to watch.

    The way I see it. We, as game designers, would analyze and predict players' expectations and deliver them accordingly.

    Quote from Yasuhiro Wada, Creator of Harvest Moon:
    "Though he had no interest in returning to that environment, he finally understood its advantages compared to the big city, and thus wanted to turn that experience into a game. The problem was that he didn't know how. "I needed to nail the player experience," said Wada, but he had a problem: "How do you express the game system of living while working?" The Missing Ingredient He had come up with the idea of a game where the player raises cattle after playing the popular-in-Japan Derby Stallion horse breeding and racing series, but it wasn't coming together as a concept. "When raising a cow, you communicate with your heart and give it a lot of love," he said. "Just imagine how hard it was to represent these actions within the game." 
"It can get pretty boring if everything is presented in a calm and composed manner," he said. Though he thought that diligent work on the part of the player "would feel like a reward, just like in real life,"
    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/165143/GDC_2012_How_Harvest_Moon_almost_didnt_happen.php

    It's no fun when there are no rules and goals for the players to immerse themselves into.
    Rules: I'm not talking about that 'you can't kill innocent NPCs' kind of rules. I'm referring to something like 'Physics, Gravity, something not affected by players and NPCs'. Imagine a FPS game where you're fighting against on the ground, give it zero gravity and players have no gravitation rule holding them down. Thus resulting the players approach their play-styles differently and adapt because of this new-found rule.

    Goals: What is the goal of the player? Not the kind where important NPCs giving them quests. It's more on the personal fulfillment of the player himself. In RPGs, the most common motivation is to become the strongest and get the best gear and obliterate anything in their path. Thus the player would feel good accomplishing that goal.

    Now put in 'Risk and Reward' into Rules and Goals.
    In zero gravity FPS, I can traverse through environments very easily but expose myself as easy target out in the open at the same time.
    In RPG, there's this mega hard quest which has a 1000+ damage sword as a reward. Should I take the quest with this awful gear on me? There's a chance I die and fail the quest.

    Hope this helps.
     
  36. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    I know a lot of sales folk talk about the customers expectations and how the customer 'expects' whatever the product is that we're trying to give them, when often it's that we just want them to expect it and tell ourselves they do, and tell them they do, to try to force them to like it. Big difference between that and what the player actually wants. I am not so sure players have such expectations. They might only be interested in certain genres or gameplay styles of graphic styles perhaps, but if they entire had specific expectations and your game exactly gave them only those expectations, there would be nothing left for them to really discover or be surprised by or delighted by... there has to be some openness and unexpectdness and unpredictability, otherwise it's just going through the motions. I guess though players can 'expect' to have something unexpected happen.
     
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  37. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Fun is not a concrete thing. What is fun for me may not be fun for you and vice-versa. A lot of people seem to be fanatics about FPS games. The only two I liked so far were Borderlands (and #2 but I count them as one) and Hell Gate London (which was not pure FPS as you could also do melee combat). To me FPS are kind of boring and basically 'you play one you have played them all". Still a lot of people seem to find great fun in playing them.

    Same for things like Farmville. Obviously, a ton of people love the game and have great fun playing it. It puts me to sleep. Tried it once when a FB friend needed to recruit people (I hate that forced viral marketing but that is another topic).

    Give me a good shootemup and I am happy. I will have a ton of fun obliterating enemies and narrowly surviving wave after wave of enemy squadrons and boss encounters. Or a good hack n slash. Diablo 3 is one of my most favorite games of all time. It is a ton of fun for me. Some RPGs are fun too. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen for instance. Very well done game and a lot of fun.

    Tower Defense games are often very fun. But then I enjoyed RTS like Warcraft a lot and to me TD games seems like someone invented a new genre by simply extracting only the battle component from RTS games.

    AdVenture Capitalist is an example of one of the most brilliant and fun Unity games I have played. And with over 24 MILLION plays on just Kongregate I cannot be the only person who thinks this way. It cuts out all of the fluff and lets you focus on building your empire.

    If we look at all of these things we may find some common denominators and those would lead ro identifying what makes them fun.

    Solid feedback is one thing they have in common.
    Another is a great sense of progression. Growing "something" becoming more powerful within the context of the game world.
    Instant gratification. Kind of goes along with the feedback. But whether I am blowing up an enemy ship, watching money pour in every second, experiencing a very short wait between positioning units in a TD game and watching enemies be crushed, or laying waste to dozens of enemies in a few seconds in D3... I am getting some [near] instant gratification.
    Challenging. More importantly overcoming the challenge. That is certainly present in most of these games. Personally I enioy it most when I am playing to the best of my ability and from second to second not sure if I can accomplish the task at hand. Not even sure I will survive. But when I do I feel a great sense of accomplishment because it was very challenging and I managed it.

    Different things are fun to different people. So it might be helpful to focus on what games are fun to you? And why?
     
  38. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Really, given my own past experiences, I think players do expect limited spontaneity.

    Average Joe Player really, really, really cares about genre conventions and graphical styles, I've noticed. I've seen it in feedback on other games. I've seen it in feedback on my games, especially my earlier works where I was interested in busting conventions of genres, particularly ones in genres I don't usually like (specifically, Zombies vs. Knights, where I took a giant crap on RTS conventions to no good effect.)

    That said, I've seen other people's games that adhere perfectly to their chosen genre's conventions, are are blasted for being unoriginal. Why? They cleave to the cliches and never, ever provide a twist. The mechanics have been done before. The game is a case study in assembling carefully, lovingly-reproduced, pieces of other works.

    I've noticed the successful games add a little something unexpected to a game. Take the original Halo - what made that game special was the regenerating shield (though, the trope Regenerating Shield, Static Health was a thing long before that) - to that point, FPSes relied on pickups if you wanted to extend your lifetime.

    More recently, take Shovel Knight. The game take elements of Mario III, Actraiser, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, and some others. It follows a very carefully-considered level design philosophy that keeps some of the Classic Video Game Screw-Yous, but in a way that makes them fun, enjoyable, and in their own way, "fair". The game in and of itself is remarkable not only because of how good the level design and music is (Virt is a genius), but also because of the plot. Even though the plot is minimalist, there are some curveballs thrown in (particularly The Black Knight, Shovel Knight's rival.) It's an enjoyable experience because it's true to the NES era, but remarkably better designed, and genuinely interesting.
     
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  39. RaiuLyn

    RaiuLyn

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    Maybe or players expect what they should expect in their favorite genre. As someone who loves RPGs, I expect fun gameplay, engaging storyline and relate-able character. If your RPG game gonna show me less than average gameplay and progression with some generic bald dude as main character with no personality. I don't know how I would respond to that. I would be disappointed instead since it didn't fulfill my expectations of the RPG I expected to play when I picked it up.

    Of course, if you give in to all of what the players would expect, they might feel bored easily and complain that there's no innovation. And of course, you can try out different mechanics and all but to the point that it could be a different game. Imagine Mario in a gritty post-apocalyptic world where blood spatters everywhere.

    Game designers are pretty much treading on thin ice everyday, I reckon. Should one innovate or stick to the faithful formula? Your call.

    I still remember the Destiny fiasco where some players got the crappier version of a reward as opposed to friends who played the same mission at the same session because of the way RNG loot system works. Thus less fulfillment on the expectation of whoever got the lower rewards and means they are likely to be angry about it and the system being unfair.

    A quote which I find interesting:
    In the end, we don't know what we want.
     
  40. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    You do have about about `convention`.... outside of the box of your own game, people have played OTHER games, and learned things from them, which have influenced their expectations. You have that big pile of `baggage` to deal with. How you deal with it is up to you. You could try to dispel it, improve on it, disregard it, etc.
     
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