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LAFS Game Design 1 - Working With Formal Fundamentals
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LAFS Game Design 1 - Working With Formal Fundamentals


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Session 3 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

Session 3 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

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  • Single-player: one player vs. game system. Most video games are of this player format.

    Head-to-head: one player vs. one player: Fighting games are an example.

    Cooperative: many players against vs. the game system. This is common in online games like World of Warcraft.

    One against many: one player vs. multiple players. In the Nintendo Land game Luigi’s Ghost Mansion for the Wii U game system, one player takes the role of a ghost trying to scare the other players while they work together to trap the ghost with their flashlights.

    Free-for-all: One player vs. one player vs. one player vs…. Perhaps the most common player structure for multiplayer games, this can be found everywhere from board games like Monopoly to the basic mode in most competitive first-person shooter games.

    Team Competition: Multiple players vs. multiple players (including pair vs. pair). This is found in most team sports games.

  • There are three categories of rules, all important to a successful play experience:

    Setup involves things you do once at the beginning of a game
    Progression entails what happens during a game
    Resolution indicates the conditions that cause the game to end and how an outcome is determined based on the game state.

    Mechanics are a collection of rules that form a discrete chunk of gameplay.

    Systems are collections of mechanics that make up the biggest chunks of the game.

  • Transcript

    • 1. Session 3 David Mullich Game Design 1 The Los Angeles Film School
    • 2. Designer Perspective: Yu Suzuki G4 Icons Episode #22: Yu Suzuki
    • 3. Formal Elements of a Game Players Objectives (Goals) Procedures Rules Resources Conflict Boundaries Outcome
    • 4. PLAYERS
    • 5. Invitation to Play One of the most important elements of a game is the invitation to play. It can take a number of different forms: Start Button Title Screen Guitar Hero Controller
    • 6. Number of Players A game designed for one player is different than one designed for 2, 3 or 4 players. A game designed for a specific number of players is different from one for a variable number of players.
    • 7. Player Format Single Player vs. Game (Player vs. Environment) Player vs. Player (Head-to-Head) Multiple Individual Players vs. Game Unilateral Multiplayer (One vs. Many) Multilateral Competition (One vs. One vs. One… or Free-For-All) Cooperative Play Team Competition
    • 8. Player Format
    • 9. Player Roles Sports: Team Leader vs. Team Mate Mastermind: Codemaker vs. Codebreaker D&D: Fighter, Magic User, Cleric or Thief MUD: Achievers, Socializers, Explorers or Killers
    • 10. OBJECTIVES
    • 11. Objectives (or Goals) Objectives give players something to strive for. They define what players are attempting to accomplish within the rules of the game. Ideally, they should be: Obtainable, but challenging to reach Worthy of obtaining Immediately replaced by new goals
    • 12. Types of Objectives Capture Chase Race Alignment Rescue Escape Solve Outwit Beat the Clock Collect Build Destroy Explore Advance Story
    • 13. The Lens of Goals What is the ultimate goal of my game? Is the goal clear to players? If there is a series of goals, do the players understand that? Are the different goals related to each other in a meaningful way? Are my goals concrete, achievable, and rewarding? Do I have a good balance of short- and long-term goals? Do players have a chance to decide on their own goals? Jesse Schell, Lens #25
    • 14. PROCEDURES
    • 15. Procedures Procedures are the methods of play and the actions players can take to achieve them. One way to think about procedures is: Who does what, when, where and how.
    • 16. Types of Procedures Set Up or Starting Action: How to put the game into play. Progression: Ongoing procedures after the starting action. Special Actions: Available conditional to other elements or game state. Resolution, or Resolving Actions: Bring gameplay to a close.
    • 17. The Lens of Actions A game without actions is like a sentence without verbs – think about what your player can do and what they can’t and why. What are the operative actions in my game? What are the resulting actions? What resultant actions would I like to see? How can I change my game in order to make those possible? Am I happy with the ratio of resultant to operative actions? What actions do players wish I could do in my game that they cannot? Can I somehow enable these, either as operative or resultant actions? Jesse Schell, Lens #24
    • 18. RULES
    • 19. Rules Rules define game objects and allowable actions by the players. In digital games, rules can be explained in the manual or they can be explicit in the game itself.
    • 20. Rule Groupings Rules Mechanics Systems Scoring Progression Economics Examples of Systems Combat Artificial Intelligence Multiplayer
    • 21. Rules Defining Objects and Concepts Board games generally define their objects explicitly as part of their rules sets. Digital games can have objects made of a fairly complex set of variables that the player might not be aware of. For example, consider this ogre in WarCraft II Cost: 800 Gold, 100 Lumber Hit Points: 90 Damage: 2-12 Armor: 4 Sight: 5 Speed: 13 Range: 1
    • 22. Rules Restricting Actions Rules restriction actions can fix loopholes in a game, such as not allowing a chess player to place their king in check. Restriction rules might overlap other game elements such as rules specifying the size of a football field or the number of players on a team. Restrictions might also keep a game from becoming unbalanced in favor of one of the players, such as rules preventing strategy game players from building high level combat units until they acquire resources to build other things first.
    • 23. Rules Determining Effects Rules can trigger effects based on certain conditions. Creates variation on gameplay. For example, if the player can’t answer the question correctly, the other players have a chance to answer. Can help get the game back on track. For example, if the player runs out of health, return him to the nearest waypoint.
    • 24. Unruly Rules Too many rules might make make the game too complicated for the players to understand. Leaving rules unstated or poorly communicating them might make players feel confused or alienated. Rules should be consistent with the game’s theme.
    • 25. The Lens of Rules What are the foundational rules of my game? How do these differ from the operational rules? Are there “laws” or “house rules” that are forming as the game develops? Should these be incorporated into the game directly? Are there different modes in my game? Do these modes make things simpler or more complex? Would the game be better with fewer modes? More modes? Who enforces the rules? Are the rules easy to understand, or is there confusion about them? If there is confusion, should I fix it by changing the rules or explaining them more clearly? Jesse Schell, Lens #26
    • 26. The Lens of Emergence Emergence, or depth, is the number of decisions a player can make. How many verbs do my players have? How many objects can each verb act on? How many ways can players achieve their goals? How many subjects do the players control? How do side effects change constraints? Jesse Schell, Lens #23
    • 27. Complexity vs. Depth Extra Credits: Depth vs Complexity
    • 28. RESOURCES
    • 29. Resources Resources are assets that are used to accomplish the game’s goals. Resources must both be useful and be scarce (or they lose their value). Managing resources and determining how and when to control player access to them is a key part of a game designer’s job.
    • 30. Examples of Resources Lives Health Currency Actions Energy Mana Time Moves Turns Power-Ups Building Materials Combat Units Inventory Items Spells Territory Special Terrain Information
    • 31. CONFLICT
    • 32. Conflict Conflict keeps players from achieving their goals directly through rules, procedures, situations, and obstacles. This forces the player to employ a particular skill or range of skills. Conflict makes a game more enjoyable by creating a sense of competition or achievement.
    • 33. Sources of Conflict Obstacles Opponents Puzzles Traps Dilemmas Poor Odds Incomplete Information
    • 34. The Lens of Conflict What skills does my game require from the player? Are there categories of skill that this game is missing? Which skills are dominant? Are these skills creating the experience I want? Are some players better at these skills than others? Does this make the game feel unfair? Can players improve their skills with practice? Does the game demand the right level of skill? Jesse Schell, Lens #27
    • 35. BOUNDARIES
    • 36. Boundaries Boundaries separate the game from everything that is not that game. These boundaries can be physical – like the edges of an arena, playing field, or board game – or they can be conceptual, such as the social agreement to play.
    • 37. The Lens of Functional Space Think about the space in which your game really takes place when all the surface elements are stripped away. Is the space of this game discrete or continuous? How many dimensions does it have? What are the boundaries of the space? Are there sub-spaces? Are they connected? Is there more than one useful way to abstractly model the space in the game? Jesse Schell, Lens #21
    • 38. OUTCOME
    • 39. Outcome The outcome of a game is its end state – usually a win, loss or sometimes, a draw. There are a number of ways to determine outcome, but the structure of the final outcome will always be related to the player interaction patterns and the objective. Many two-player or two-team games are called “zero sum” games, because there is one winner (+1) and one loser (- 1).
    • 40. Outcome The outcome of a game must be uncertain to hold the attention of players. However, some games go on indefinitely and reward players in other ways to keep them playing.
    • 41. 1. Download GM Tutorial - Scrolling from the LAFS GD1 website Resources page 2. Create a Scrolling Shooter game