Wednesday, 9 February 2011

So you want to make a game...

Hey people!

So did you miss me? Sorry It's taken ages for me to get back into this, due to a van made of cheese (my textures messed up okay!) and designing a metal character the blogs have been pushed back a little... purely my fault but I'm here now at the start/select screen pressing A. So... Game Design. I'm studying it so obviously I have a passion for it. As you've seen from my earlier blogs and the film I brought in today (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) my gaming passion lies in the past... but how far have things moved on? Do the Battletoads really rival the sleek Tekken 6? In this blog i'm studying what makes these games different - the thing running through all of them...what is in their design?

So let’s imagine we’re in that meeting, in that first job at Blitz or Codemasters, we look at the brief and the question is…How do we make this game?

When I think of Game Design, to me gameplay is one of the most important things – but what actually is it?

Gameplay is interaction with a game (in particular, video games) through its rules, connection between player and the game, challenges and overcoming them, plot and player's connection with it. Video game gameplay is distinct from graphics, or audio elements.”

To me, Gameplay is the overall play of the game – the environment, the characters, how everything moves and feels, rules and mainly the interaction in the game. Take a bad example say anyone remember superman 64? Well if you’re one of the lucky few that haven’t just watch…

This video just shows why gameplay – the control, environment and overall plot determines how awesome a game is…good gameplay is essential; when done badly gameplay is horrendous.

So now we know what gameplay is, where to start with the design? If only there were some examples of awesome game designers to follow…oh yeah there is!

As the best place to start is the beginning… how about the creator of Spacewar! ?
Steve "Slug" Russell is a programmer and computer scientist most famous for creating Spacewar!, one of the earliest videogames, in 1961 with the fellow members of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT(See ‘the evolution of awesome part 1 for more info).
With Spacewar! The lead programmer was just one guy. Within the 70’s the game designer, lead programmer and entire art team was this one person. Nowadays it is a completely different story…
With the modern developers game design is HUGE!
With the exception of casual games like bejewelled, the big budget games of today have dozens of designers. In larger companies each aspect of the gameplay and design is governed by a separate person, lead designer and general designer.
Game design falls into many different categories all with different designers:
  • World design - creation of a backstory, setting, and theme for the game
  • System design - creation of game rules and programming
  • Content design - creation of characters, assets, puzzles, and missions
  • Game level design - construction of world levels and its features
  • Game writing - dialogue, text, and story
  • User interface design - constructs the user interactions and feedback

Examples of jobs within a modern game developer

  • Lead designer
  • Game Mechanic designer
  • Level/environment designer
  • Character Artist
  • Writer

So now we know how Game play and design are worked we can start sharing the jobs and making the game…Phew! But what game to make? Obviously in a survival horror like the Queen’s building project we need the design to something slightly different to a game circled around Barbie and her horses (just a bit!). We need to think about the target audience. This will affect the genre and ultimately affect the Game design itself.

So that was my first foray into Game design… But what do I personally look for myself? Loving the fighting genre as well as RPG’s the type of gameplay I’d be looking for is Hack/Slash. Founded by the old pen and paper style of D&D games as well as card games like munchkin, Hack Slash gameplay emphasises combat.

So until next time this is the GA from the Saff saying bye!