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What IS Game Design?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by GarBenjamin, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    If you're referring to Bartle...

    Achievers (Diamonds) - Achievers are the players who go out to do things. They're the ones who will first defeat the new raid boss, or be the first to acquire every recipe in that MMO.
    Explorers (Spades) - Explorers are the ones who write the strategy guides to your games, and discover speedrunning routes. If an achiever is the guy who has done it all, an explorer is the guy who has seen it all and can tell you how to get back to it.
    Socializers (Hearts) - Socializers are your RPers and Carebears. These players play games for the community and social interactions.
    Killers (Clubs) - Killers is somewhat of a misnomer; while these types of gamers often love PvP with a passion, a Killer/Club's real draw is the ability to affect other players somehow. These are the players who exploit glitches to brick the economy, or find creative ways to circumvent PvP restrictions and kill everyone.

    Of course, the suits of players is just one way of classifying different types of players. I personally prefer the D&D system because the granularity of the classifications is much finer.

    Additionally if you want a funny read for tabletop systems, You'll get some enjoyment out of this.
     
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  2. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    I tend to be the exploration type. I captured every monster in FFX and had enough information to write a FAQ but that didn't interest me. I went everywhere possible in GTA3, I remember seeing, "You weren't supposed to be able to get in here" on a wall and I loved it. In WoW I climbed the mountains around Ironforge until I found a way over the top to some 60+ area with scorpions or something. I couldn't hearth because the graveyard was in range of very hostile mobs... I loved it.

    That's what pulled me in to Minecraft. It took forever before the game felt like it was just repeating itself.

    Now, explain why I had to throw my Starcraft 2 disc in the garage because it was ruining my life? Is that achievement?
     
  3. RJ-MacReady

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    Thx. Will read.
     
  4. RockoDyne

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    Won't really disagree, although I do want to couch that a little.

    Going back to how I defined design all those pages ago, I defined it as the structure of systems and how they interact, which I would imagine most engineers and architect types wouldn't disagree with. A building with a good design would have a physical structure that compliments its fire suppression systems, its climate control systems, how it handles earthquakes, etc.

    The only thing I think would need to be added to make "game design" is a sub clause about this weird, highly chaotic system called a player. Going back to your definition, I could just swap space for systems and be happy with it.
     
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  5. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    So a game can be defined as structured play.

    So if we take your thoughts into consideration, we could say that game design is the structuring of systems to allow for/encourage play.
     
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  6. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Or... Game design is defining and structuring systems that encourage and support play.

    At any rate, I think we are getting to the heart of the matter. The most recent definitions are better than most I have read by the so called "experts".
     
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  7. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    Game Design (ɡām dəˈzīn) - Defining and structuring systems that encourage and support play.

    Works for me.
     
  8. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2014
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  9. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    Research, right?
     
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  10. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    In part yes. I greatly enjoy 2D retro gaming more than most modern 3D games. So... the main reason is just to play the games (and support the developers so hopefully there will be more cool 2D games to play in the future). However, you are right it is also competition analysis to see what is currently available and how well they implemented their designs. My 2D platformer I intentionally chose a non-scrolling screen originally just to make it harder to make it interesting (I think long scrolling levels provide more opportunity for keeping the player engaged). I have loosened that a bit allowing each stage to be slightly larger than what can be seen on the screen at one time but not much.
     
  11. Gigiwoo

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    Who says we need to define 'game design' or even 'game'? The stated goal of the forum is, "discuss the theory, the practice, and the business of designing better games." And toward that end, there's no question that the community is absolutely rocking it!

    Gigi
     
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  12. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    I agree with the aim of designing better games. I think MisterSelmo's initiative to define 'game' and 'game design' was completely in line with the forum's goals.

    It's the basic concept of how can you build something if you do not understand what you are building. And while all of us here know what a game is as far as being able to recognize a video game when we see one... gaining a deeper understanding simply establishes a better foundation to move forward. I think all of us who participated in the discussion as we refined our way to the final definition learned something and have a "better" perhaps deeper understanding now of exactly what a game is or at least should be.
     
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  13. Nigey

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    For me I'd say games design is a pretty large, potentially abstract field with a lot of scope. In some ways it's a bit like saying 'what is art?'. It's easily definable. It's creating the idea of a game, a concept. Before it has been made. And everything that a designer does is designing and drawing out that idea of what their game should be. Imagining a universe where another set of rules apply. In many circumstances a goal as well. For example a boy throwing a ball against a wall. Is that a game? Yes. Could it be considered fun? Yes. The boy could be pretending he's honing his throwing and catching skills. It's a game of skill. The idea of that game, the concept of it, that you can share with friends. That is the game's design. A game designer is the person who designs the concept of game.
     
  14. Gigiwoo

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    I agree wholeheartedly! Which is why I found this line so incredibly out of place: "This forum is super new, and ... I think this might be shaping up to be utter failure." The community asked Unity to create this forum and as a result, there's a sense of personal ownership that shines through in deeply insightful articles, on-target discussion, and open-minded and supportive responses. In 2 weeks, it went from nothing to my favorite place!

    Gigi
     
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  15. RJ-MacReady

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    You pretty much arrived at what we arrived at, more or less, but it took us 200+ posts.

    I think the difference between most people's idea of game design and what I think it is, now, is that the normal abstract notion off game design as just... kind of making a game... is that it doesn't really acknowledge how to go about it.

    It's like cooking... yes, it's making food. But, it's that all it is? I like the definition we arrived at because I can use it as a barometer for if I'm designing a game vs. just messing around with ideas, imagining characters, etc.
     
  16. RJ-MacReady

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    One week later, looking out at the topics and posts on this forum, many of them are off-topic or completely founded on opinion, specific discussions of one type of game or even just how to develop one game. Others are lengthy grandstands that, when not responded to in the way that the poster anticipated, turn into a point of contention. What was supposed to be a collective effort quickly became, not that.

    I remember reading in Gossip that people figured this forum would just become filled with blowhards. At first, my mind was blown by the contributions of many people offering new insights in every post. How this degraded into people simply leaving the discussion forum entirely... it's clear that you were never here for Game Design.

    One thing that will sink this forum like a rock is The Quest for Notoriety. It doesn't matter who said what, where the quote came from, how many sources you post, etc. There is no such thing as notoriety in game design. There is what works and what does not work, which we can prove by playing games and examining them.

    Another thing that will cause endless trouble, and indeed has already, is spreading what is essentially a single discussion topic out in a thousand different directions. It makes it too easy for people to conflate everything, call everything game design, because there is no continuous thread to the discussion. We might even call the unity game design forum, at this moment, a tangled web of intertwining threads.

    1) Games are structured play.

    2) Game Design is defining and structuring systems that encourage and support play.

    3) ???

    What comes next?

    What is the first step of Game Design? Where does it all begin?

    I think it all starts with an inspiration, the point of inception where the mind realizes that a defined, structured system can be played with. I think we can call this the Idea.

    Where do game Ideas come from?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
  17. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I think this sort of subject is ripe for human hatred. Mainly because an indie developing a game needs some form of ego, because by extension, the game itself is created by god, where the god is the developer. This makes it, and the process somewhat personal.

    My advice though is simple: make a lot of games. Talking about it is great, but without hands on experience or a moderately successful title, you're working with failed concepts.

    I'm not saying don't talk about it. I'm saying be prepared to think differently before you made a few games and after you made a few games. Some of the things you thought will be right, other things will be flat out wrong, and not work because you didn't have the experience to figure out why it didn't work for a particular game. Some of these things are far from obvious even if you think them through, for instance the great WoW balancing act. Too much balance turned out to be a bad thing.

    In any case, it should remain an enjoyable discussion for all rather than an argument over semantics.
     
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  18. superpig

    superpig

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    It looks fine to me.
     
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  19. RJ-MacReady

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    This explains a lot. Reminds me of stories I've heard from Behind the Music segments.
     
  20. GarBenjamin

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    Many places but ultimately always in our imagination.

    Broken down into two main method I think:

    Passive: When the intention is not to come up with a game idea but your current experience produces a game idea anyway. Examples follow:

    Reading a story sometimes you think about building a game to experience the story or at least parts of it. Same for watching a movie.

    While playing a game you see certain play mechanics you like. Or you like them but they were not fully realized in the game. You can see how to take them further. Or maybe some parts of the game are very good and others are frustrating as hell very poorly implemented. So you think this is kinda cool but it would be very cool if.... and the game idea begins.

    Active: when you set out to intentionally come up with a [good] game idea. Examples follow.

    You may love retro old school games and so you first reflect on games from the past. What you liked about them what you didn't like. You miss those games and decide to make one yourself so others like you can play it.

    You sit down with a notebook and start brainstorming ideas. Maybe writing a sentence or two. Maybe doodling game scenes. Maybe listing play mechanics. Just something to get a start.

    You use an online game idea generator.

    You decide to simply create a clone of another game. Ideally you put your own twist on it.

    There are more I am sure but that is off the top of my head from things I have done.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
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  21. RJ-MacReady

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    I'll put a disclaimer on my opinions from now on.
     
  22. angrypenguin

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    Actually, I was on holiday, making nothing for a whole fortnight. As much as I love being productive, I also suggest giving this a go every so often. ;)

    As for arguing semantics/definitions/etc... while I do love doing that because it can be fun in and of itself, and it can provoke thought and so on and so forth, and it achieves a super important outcome of improving our vocubulary in a particular field (ie: helps us conceptualise and consider things so we can better learn from them)...

    Regardless of what it is, I don't think that the definition of "game" should in any way influence what we design or make.

    I believe Will Wright once said he doesn't make games so much as he makes toys. Similarly, as hipster as it sounds, I don't design "games" so much as I design "experiences". I don't look to academically labelled pigeonholes to see what I should or shouldn't include in something when I'm designing it. I just play around and try stuff and see what best achieves the type of experience I want to provide. In that context, I really couldn't care less about whether or not something happens to fit in the pigeonhole that's academically labelled as "game" or not.

    Who cares? Why would fitting a definition ever be more important than providing the best possible experience?

    Who finishes off a Sim City session and thinks to themselves "That was cool, but it would have been better if it was changed so that academics would agree that it fit the definition of a 'game'?" Nobody. And if Will Wright was thinking specifically of making a "game" when he designed it, instead of being inspired by Montessori toys, would the experience have been better?
     
  23. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Yeah I deleted pointlessness. It's worth respecting the thread and not turning it into a personal soapbox.
     
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  24. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Hmm... I guess my post regarding moving from the game idea to the game design process was deleted along with (or included as) pointlessness. ;)

    Let's try it again...

    So... we have the game idea... now what is the first step in the game design process?

    If you (whoever is reading this) have an idea for a game... what is the first thing you do for design?
     
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  25. hippocoder

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    I don't design. I play it in my head, sometimes for minutes, other times for days and years. Some games I add to over the years and it's only now I'm finally allowed to sit down and give birth to some of them.

    But the actual step of making a game design for me in reality is the prototype.
     
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  26. GarBenjamin

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    I do that as well. I do not believe in designing everything down to the last detail. In fact, I have never seen it work for any software project. Trying to map out every last detail I mean. What does work (for me anyway) is to nail down the important things. Major areas of the project. Specific features it must have. Things it should not have. Then I get to work on the proof of concept. The rest of the design is a process of iteration. It is very much like extreme programming and SCRUM meetings. The software (game or whatever) is tested and refined and the design evolves as a result.

    Actually, thinking about it more I do two different levels of design. The above describes the overall / high level design. But then for each piece (right before I implement) I usually take the time to design exactly what it needs to do, how to implement it, etc. May be an activity diagram or a flow chart or pseudo code. These iterations are done outside of the program. On paper or in the appropriate design tool. Iterations continually simplifying until I end up with the simplest way of achieving the desired functionality. This may be technical or it may not be. Could be user interface or could be play mechanics.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014
  27. RockoDyne

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    One of the things I usually do on paper is breakdown problems. I try to understand what the issue is (at least as far as I am concerned about it). Right now the thing I've been ruminating on is AI for stealth/subterfuge, where there is room to be suspicious without being completely hostile. The issue bugging me is how to have the AI keep track of N/PC's in a way that could be shared without outright passing and using object ID's.

    For the most part, it's mostly just about understanding the issue. Designing the solution in detail isn't as important, compared to knowing why I want this solution in the first place and why others won't do.
     
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  28. AndrewGrayGames

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    That's my observation on software development as well.

    Something I'm trying out, is that I'm also taking note of the feedback I'm getting and noting which approaches I've tried that did not work and why if possible. When I write my next post-mortem, I want to be able to say, "The things I did better on Sara the Shieldmage than on The Hero's Journey are...[stuff I improved on], however the stuff I did worse on was...[stuff that sux0red!!1!!one!!]" This also helps me, because I can identify things I stumble on (right now, it's mostly controls. Control interfaces suck...but they're absolutely necessary to get absolutely right.)
     
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  29. Gigiwoo

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    ^ The value of prototyping cannot be overstated. I've thrown out tons of 'fantastic' ideas that sounded great until I put paper to code. 'Meh', and on to the next project. Great companies might call this 'Bullets then Canonballs', Lean companies might call this 'Minimally Viable Products', and I personally prefer, 'Prototype'.

    Gigi