One of the most immersive ways to offer player experiences comes in the form of open puzzles. As a designer, one of the best things you can offer your players is an opportunity to engage in meaningful play, and open puzzles provide an interesting mix of dynamically flexible content and a capacity for hand-crafted outcomes by allowing a number of solutions to a problem based on emergent solutions rather than explicitly pre-determined outcomes. Continue reading
Games have an incredible potential as ways to tell a message just as easily as they can entertain, but the actual creation of a game that is capable of handling its source material with grace while providing a vehicle for players to form opinions is difficult, and, ultimately rare. There’s a few crucial considerations when it comes to raising a point in games that few people keep in mind. Continue reading
Sorry about this article going up late; I’ve been studying for a final and it slipped my mind. Skill exclusion in video games is a common trend; if a player’s skill is below a certain level, they may not be able to play a certain game with players who have a high degree of skill, at least at a competitive level. It’s not necessarily the break-in point for the game, but rather the degree to which skill determines outcome. What I’m going to look at today is skill exclusion in three games that play very similarly at least on a conceptual level, but have different levels of skill required.
Impermanence plays a role in many of the most engaging games on the market. It adds a lot of interesting opportunities in games, but it can also frustrate and anger players who miss out on opportunities. However, sometimes it also allows players to customize their play experience and can create a more concise and meaningful narrative than having a messy jumble of content waiting to be played.
Artificial Intelligence in games is usually a misnomer. Rarely is it possible to create artificial intelligence that is truly capable of responding correctly to a human player; some AI may be too “smart”, acting instantaneously and without any reason to complete whatever objectives it is given, but it’s also possible to create AI that are not challenging or lack an element of life. Finally, there are concerns with the development side of AI that need to be addressed. The four primary problems with AI are the computing load, task management, player interaction, and vivacity that all need to be addressed.
Failure is a great tool for a game designer; it is another way to figure out what we don’t want to do when we’re working on a game. Whatever part of the game design process you fall into, it’s important to be able to recognize, assess, and grow from failure, whether it’s as a programmer, mechanics designer, level designer, or even an artist.
One of the greatest things that I hear people complaining about in games is the random element of them. And, truth be told, many games with random elements handle them wrong; the random number generator may be faulty or the randomness only serves to force repetition. However, randomness is also a great tool in a game designer’s toolkit; it turns a simple challenge of execution into a risk and reward analysis, and can add great amounts of depth and replayability to games.
One of the easiest ways for a game designer to damage their games is to pay too little attention to the methods by which they design the mechanics of the game. The flaw that comes up the most when I see it is a failure to correctly scale games’ mechanical structures in relationship to each other. Often, developers get lazy and use exponential or even linear scaling in their games and don’t realize the impact that their actions have on the difficulty and balance of their work.
One of the things that we’ve seen recently is a wave of games that I like to call “dumb fun”, games which cater to the lowest common denominator and sell widely, like Call of Duty and really just about anything EA makes, barring The Sims and its ilk. However, I think as game designers it’s important to consider that while simplified and streamlined explosion presentation devices are certainly a pathway to commercial success, it is possible to receive just as much enjoyment from a game that requires a little more thought. Continue reading
One of the major gripes I’ve had as a games reviewer is that a lot of the time games just don’t get a passable story down. The main root cause of this is poor writing, but not necessarily even with regards to the narrative. I’ve seen incredibly complex narratives, such as Dishonored’s, fail not because the core narrative failed but because the characters as individual parts of it did.