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LAFS Game Design 1 - Role of the Game Designer

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Session 1 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

Session 1 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.


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  • 3 keys of being a successful entrepreneur:
    Devotion: Devotion is a word usually reserved for spirituality or an athlete’s dedication.  You need to be disciplined about what you do, devoted to the cause of making your career succeed.
    Persistence: Being persistent is a habit that will allow you to be one of the rare people not to rely on luck, but to create their own luck. Luck is opportunity X preparation.
    Reinvention: Re-invention results in new habits. Habits are learned behaviors that become the way you do things. Maintaining GOOD habits forces you to constantly try to adapt, change, watch for opportunity, watch your competition, and maybe most of all, watch yourself getting settled into doing things the same way just because you are comfortable doing that. Get used to getting OUTSIDE of your zone of comfort.

  • Think: Thinking allows beings to make sense of or model the world in different ways, and to represent or interpret it in ways that are significant to them, or which accord with their needs, attachments, objectives, plans, commitments, ends and desires.

    Understand: Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior.

    Reflect and Connect: Arguably, the most important aspects of education is to provide students with knowledge that they can transfer in meaningful ways to other aspects of their present or future lives. For example, we do not teach history simply so students can pass a quiz, but so that they can reason better about the world around them.
  • He who has the gold makes the rules!
  • Game designers take on many different roles:

    Builders make worlds to explore.
    Engineers make systems and mechanics that link together into a complete picture
    Scientists test new ways to improve the play experience
    Teachers teach players what to do and how the rules of the game work
    Dreams create new, unique, amazing experiences.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Session 1 David Mullich Game Design 1 The Los Angeles Film School
    • 2. Who Am I?  David Mullich  dmullich@lafilm.edu  @David_Mullich  www.electricsheep.biz  Instructor at LAFS  Game Designer at Electric Sheep Game Consulting  Co-creator of Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge
    • 3. How to Succeed in LAFS  Be your own Career Entrepreneur  3 Keys:  Devotion  Persistence  Re-invention
    • 4. This is a College Class Studying game development at college is still college study.  Take Notes  Study  Read
    • 5. Take Notes Having one of these is a minimum requirement. At all times.
    • 6. Study  Review the Lecture Notes  Think  Understand  Reflect and Connect
    • 7. How to Read  Reading assignments are not mandatory but strongly encouraged  Make notes or highlight key concepts  Leave time to reflect and connect
    • 8. Do You Have Skillz?  Gamers are good at digital interfaces  Gaming professionals are good at both digital and human interfaces
    • 9. This means communication. With grammar‐Nazis. “...the different ways they done it like in the game play and the scenes ad the props” ...is not communicating and will incur their wrath. Game development is a team sport for Geeks.
    • 10. All Business is Communication  Publisher to Player  Developer to Publisher  Producer to Team  Team to Producer  Team Member to Team Member
    • 11. Good Communication  Precise  Clear  Brief
    • 12. Written Communication Informal Communication Its cool to werk in gamez.u get too do anything u want & stuff Formal Communication It’s cool to work in games. You get to do anything you want and stuff.
    • 13. Written Communication  Capitalize the beginning of sentences, names, game titles, and the word “I”  Use proper spelling and punctuation  Put a space between punctuation mark ending a sentence and the start of the next sentence  Don’t use “u” for “you”, or “&” for “and”  Don’t confuse “its” and “it’s”
    • 14. Attention to detial It matters.
    • 15. Assignments If you can’t be bothered to:  be creative  strive for originality even within established norms or constraints  look beyond your initial idea  actually enjoy and actively want to do the above Then get used to the phrase “Would you like fries with that?”
    • 16. Drop Box You will be invited to the instructor’s DropBox folder “Game Design 1”. There is one subfolder for each class assignment (for example, “Assignment 1”). Save each class game or written assignment into a subfolder with your name. For example:  Dropbox  Game Design 1 ○ Assignment 1  Laura Croft game.exe report.pdf
    • 17. Make It Easy To Review Your Work Sending bosses or potential clients or instructors files in a format they can’t open will just make them angry! And you don’t want angry people evaluating you! So, always send documents in PDF format! And send executables in EXE format!
    • 18. “I just want to pass this class” Classes are not kidney stones. If you think about them in these terms, maybe you’re on the wrong career path?
    • 19. <<<Expand your horizons>>> Just because it doesn’t have the word GAMES in it, doesn’t mean it’s not going to inspire, inform or be useful to you every day for the rest of your creative life. This is especially true of non‐electronic information such as:  Books  Museums  Art  History
    • 20. Impressions Your colleagues and faculty will most likely be your doorway into the industry. How do you want them to think of you? Leave a professional and lasting impression. They’re your first referees, either on paper or via word of mouth.
    • 21. The Golden Rule
    • 22. Send an email to dmullich@lafilm.edu from your lafilm email account
    • 23. Designer Perspective: Warren Spector G4 Icons Episode #30: Warren Spector
    • 24. Roles  Builder  Engineer  Scientist  Dreamer  Teacher  But NOT Boss
    • 25. Main Role The game designer’s main role is to be an advocate for the player. In some ways, designing a game is like being the host of a party. It’s your job to get everything ready and then open your doors to guests to see what happens.
    • 26. Skills A Game Designer Needs  Animation  Anthropology  Architecture  Brainstorming  Business  Cinematography  Communication  Creative Writing  Economics  Engineering  History  Management  Mathematics  Music  Psychology  Public Speaking  Technical Writing  Visual Arts
    • 27. But The Most Important Skill Is LISTENING  To Your Team  To Your Audience  To Your Game  To Your Client  To Your Self
    • 28. Design Specialties  Lead Designer  System Designer  User Interface Designer  Technical Designer  Level Designer  Content Designer  Game Writer
    • 29. Players vs. Designers Players want the fun of playing a game as well as the enjoyment of being with their friends. Game designers are focused on how the game works:  How do you make it, and how to you break it?  What are the different elements and how do they fit together?  What skill level does a player need to successfully play and win?  Does each player have an equal chance of winning and a fair chance of experiencing all that the game has to offer?
    • 30. The Designer’s Journey  Stage 1: Consumer  Stage 2: Tinkerer  Stage 3: Masher  Stage 4: Creator Teale Fristoe
    • 31. Stage 1: Consumer We all begin our game designer lives as game consumers. Most children play games, and for many people games are significant and meaningful. If you want to make games, you probably already love games. To consumers, game design is pure magic. Consumers believe that a game designer imagines a game, then creates it exactly as he or she envisioned it.
    • 32. Stage 2: Tinkerer Tinkerers tend to imagine new games in terms of modifications (often additions) to existing games, sticking closely to their underlying rule sets. Many games come with a level editor. This allows Tinkerers to get involved with a game in a whole new way. However, Tinkerers begin to realize that game design is not magic, but it is a lot of work.
    • 33. Stage 3: Masher At this point, the designer is creating entirely new games, but the design process tends to involve mashing existing genres, mechanics, and themes together. Mashers envision new games as collages of existing game components. They tend to focus on the mechanics and theme rather than on the player experience.
    • 34. Stage 4: Creator Before long, a game designer will shift his or her focus and work style. Instead of having visions of a specific game, the designer will be interested in exploring broad or incomplete ideas. The ideas can be about theme, they can be about mechanics, they can be about player experiences… really, they can be about anything.
    • 35. Stage 4: Creator (cont’d) Designers at this stage approach new games with a healthy emotional distance. Obviously, they are excited by their ideas, but they know many ideas never work out, so it’s dangerous to become attached to an untested one. They also know that the initial conception is very rarely the best implementation, so keeping an open mind and keeping nothing sacred will tend to result in better final games.
    • 36. Extra Credits, Season 1, Episode 16 - So You Want To Be A Game Designer (7:36)
    • 37. Discussion  Why is communication the game designer’s core skill?  What other skills does a game designer need?  Why is “idea guy” a poor definition for what a game designer does?  Why shouldn’t game designers get too attached to their ideas?  What is the number one cause of failed games?
    • 38. Aesthetics of Play Extra Credits: Aesthetics of Play (9:41)
    • 39. Discussion  What are Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics?  Which does a Game Designer handle first when creating a game?  What does a player experience first when playing a game?  So what does Extra Credits think Game Designers should focus on?
    • 40. Playcentric Design Process Involving the player in your design process from conception to completion.  Setting Player Experience Goals  Prototyping and Playtesting  Iteration Tracy Fullerton
    • 41. Player Experience A game designer does not create games. A game designer creates experiences.  What experience do I want the player to have?  What is essential to that experience?  How can my game capture that experience? Jesse Schell, Lens #1
    • 42. What Experience Do I Want The Player To Have?  Immersion: the illusion that you are another person or in another place.  Novelty: New or unexpected experiences.  Challenge: meaningful “work” where the player can make clear progress and has incentive to try again if s/he fails.
    • 43. What Experience Do I Want The Player To Have?  Stimulation: the emotional element of play: victory, defeat, humor, suspense.  Harmony: Player-to-player engagement.  Threat: when the player feels tension, danger, provocation and humiliation.  .
    • 44. What Is Essential To That Experience?  Immersion: premise, environment, character, story.  Novelty: fantasy, artistry, surprises.  Challenge: difficulty, order, obligations, achievements.  Simulation: pace, thrills, joy, multiplayer.  Harmony: competitiveness, trust, glory, integrity, help.  Threat: tension, gloom, danger.
    • 45. How can I capture that experience?  Game mechanics  Goals  Obstacles  Story  Art  Audio
    • 46. Step 1: Brainstorming  Set player experience goals  Come up with game concepts or mechanics  Narrow down the list to the top three  Write up short, one page description of each  Test your written concepts with potential players
    • 47. Step 2: Physical Prototype  Create a playable prototype using pen and paper and other craft materials  Playtest the physical prototype  Modify physical prototype until it meets player experience goals  Write 3-6 page gameplay treatment
    • 48. Step 3: Presentation  Presentation is often made to secure funds to hire the prototyping team  Your presentation should include demo artwork and a solid gameplay treatment  If you do not get funding, get feedback from your funding sources about what to modify or start over again
    • 49. Step 4: Software Prototypes  Create rough computer models of gameplay  Playtest the prototype  Modify prototype until it achieves your user experience goals
    • 50. Step 5: Design Documentation  Use the notes you’ve been taking during prototyping (you have been taking notes, haven’t you?!) to create a first draft design document  Work with team members to make sure the design is achievable and correctly described in the design document  Some designers now prefer creating a wiki to a static design document
    • 51. Step 6: Production  Staff up and create real artwork and programming  Don’t lose sight of the playcentric process during production!  If the designer waits until production to really start designing the game, it can lead to all sorts of problems!
    • 52. Step 7: Quality Assurance  Quality Assurance, or QA, is the testing of your game by professional testers  Make sure your gameplay is solid before your game goes into QA!
    • 53. Designing For Innovation  Design games with unique play mechanics – think beyond the existing genres of play  Appeal to new players – people who have different tastes and skills than hardcore players  Try to solve difficult design problems like:  Integration of story and gameplay  Deeper empathy for characters in games  Creating emotionally rich gameplay  Discovering the relationships between games and learning  Ask difficult questions about what games are, what they can be, and what their impact is on us individually and culturally
    • 54. Let’s Go Make Some Games!
    • 55. 1. Download Game Maker 8.0 for Windows from http://www.yoyogames.com/legacy 2. Download GM Tutorial - Catch The Clown.zip from the LAFS GD1 website Resources page 3. Create a Catch The Clown game

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