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Level 3
David Mullich
Survey of the Videogame Industry
The Los Angeles Film School
Players vs. Designers
Players want the fun of playing a game as well as the
enjoyment of being with their friends.
Game de...
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 ...
Other Roles
 Builder
 Engineer
 Scientist
 Dreamer
 Teacher
 But NOT Boss
Designer Skills
 Inspiration
 Creativity
 Process
 Teamwork
and most importantly,
 Communication
The Designer’s Journey
 Stage 1: Consumer
 Stage 2: Tinkerer
 Stage 3: Masher
 Stage 4: Creator
Teale Fristoe
Stage 1: Consumer
We all begin our game
designer lives as game
consumers. To consumers,
game design is pure magic.
Consume...
Stage 2: Tinkerer
Tinkerers tend to imagine new
games in terms of modifications
(often additions) to existing
games, stick...
Stage 3: Masher
Mashers envision new
games as collages of
existing game genres,
mechanics and themes.
They tend to focus o...
Stage 4: Creator
Before long, a game designer will shift
his or her focus and work style. Instead
of having visions of a s...
Design Specialties
 Lead Designer
 System Designer
 User Interface Designer
 Technical Designer
 Level Designer
 Con...
Extra Credits, Season 1, Episode 16 - So You Want To
Be A Game Designer (7:36)
Discussion
 Why is communication the game designer’s
core skill?
 What other skills does a game designer need?
 Why is ...
The Iterative Design Process
Every game takes
its own journey
from concept to
product, but
skilled designers
use the itera...
Ideas
All games start out as
ideas. It’s very possible
that initial ideas will be
(or should be)
abandoned, and lots of
ne...
Inspiration
Ideas don’t come out of thin air. Game designers are
influenced by personal interests and hobbies.
Spend a sig...
Game Designer’s Notebook
Many designers carry a notebook for jotting down their
ideas.
Stages of Creativity
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes
the classic stages of creativity:
 Preparation: Becom...
Game Idea Sources
 Brilliant Inspiration
 Licensing Hook
 Technology Hook
 Filling A Gap
 Following Coattails
 Order...
Brainstorming
A group creativity technique
to find a solution to a
specific problem by
gathering a list of ideas
spontaneo...
Brainstorming
Osborn’s method of brainstorming
has four general rules:
 Focus on quantity
 Withhold criticism
 Welcome ...
Advice About Ideas
 Come up with more ideas than you’ll need
 Never rule out an idea as bad until you’ve tested it
 Nev...
Planning
Once a designer has promising
ideas, it’s time to test them. Here,
the keys are minimalism and focus.
Identify wh...
Prototype
Create a prototype that answers the questions at hand.
A prototype is an early playable version of the game,
sec...
Playtesters
Playtesters are the people who play your game
and provide feedback on the experience.
 Observe their experien...
Playtesting
OTHER TESTING
 Alpha Testing
 Focus Group Testing
 Closed Beta
 Open Beta
Playtesting is an iterative proc...
Playtesting
Extra Credits: Playtesting (6:55)
Discussion
 How soon should you begin playtesting
your game?
 Why is listening so important during
playtesting?
 How mu...
Evaluate
After you playtest, consider your data.
 How does it answer your questions?
 If you were testing the quality of...
Done?
Knowing when a game is finished
can be even more difficult. A game
is never finished, it’s just due.
But you often w...
Game Concept
Defined by four elements:
 Hardware Platform: Determines the controller
configuration and technical limitati...
Pitch Presentation
A pitch is a concise verbal
(and sometimes visual)
presentation for a film, TV
series, or game, made by...
Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short summary used
to quickly and simply define a product and
its value. The name "e...
Example Pitch
Somehow it always falls to
Mustachio to rally his friends for
their many adventures. Run and
jump through a ...
Mood Board
A Mood Board is a type of collage
that may consist of images and
text that graphic designers use to
visually il...
Greenlighting
To green-light is to give
permission to go ahead to move
forward with a project. In the
game industry, to gr...
Game Design Document (GDD)
 The lead designer is the principle
author of all the game design
document.
 To a programmer ...
GDD Topics
 High Concept
 Background Story
 Tone
 Objective
 Gameplay
 Interface
 Camera Perspective
 Story Struct...
GDD – Other Topics
 Characters
 License
 World
 Controls
 Menu Structure
 Levels
 Graphics
 Cut Scenes
 Music
 S...
The Soul of the Game
A good GDD describes not just the
Body but the Soul of the game.
It should convey the feel that the
g...
Game Genres
 Action
 Ball and Paddle
 Beat’em Up
 Fighting Game
 Maze Game
 Pinball Game
 Platform Game
 Shooter
○...
Game Genres
Game Genres
Game Genres
 Defined by gameplay interaction
 Classified independent of their setting
 Most fall within one genre but s...
Combining Genres
Extra Credits: Combining Genres (4:52)
Discussion
 When combining genres, what should you
focus on?
 What is wrong with the hacking minigame
in BioShock?
 Wha...
Core Game Elements
 Player Format
 Objectives
 Procedures
 Rules
 Resources
 Theme (for some games)
Player Format
 Single Player vs. Game (Player vs. Environment)
 Player vs. Player (Head-to-Head)
 Multiple Individual P...
Player Format
Player Roles
 Sports: Team Leader vs. Team Mate
 Mastermind: Codemaker vs. Codebreaker
 D&D: Fighter, Magic User, Cleri...
Objectives (or Goals)
Objectives give players something to
strive for. They define what players are
attempting to accompli...
Examples of Objectives
 Capture
 Chase
 Race
 Alignment
 Rescue
 Escape
 Solve
 Outwit
 Beat the Clock
 Collect
...
Types of Goals
STRATEGIC
(Mental)
REFLEX
(Physical)
CHANCE
(Random)
Procedures
Procedures are the methods of play and the actions
players can take to achieve them.
One way to think about pro...
Types of Procedures
 Set Up or Starting Action: How to put the game
into play.
 Progression: Ongoing procedures after th...
Rules
Rules define game objects and allowable actions by the players.
In digital games, rules can be explained in the manu...
Rule Hierarchy
 Rules
 Mechanics
 Systems
 Scoring
 Progression
 Economics
Examples of
Systems
 Combat
 Artificial...
Resources
Resources are assets that are used to
accomplish the game’s goals.
Resources must both be useful and be
scarce (...
Examples of Resources
 Lives
 Health
 Currency
 Actions
 Energy
 Mana
 Time
 Moves
 Turns
 Power-Ups
 Building ...
Theme
 Setting: The time and/or place where a
game takes place
 Characters: The people in the game setting
whose actions...
Abstract Games
While many games are thematic, some are
abstract, meaning that they don’t have a theme.
The process of creating content and rules for
games.
The Player’s Journey
“Great games are compelling because the
player’s experience and expertise changes
over time in meanin...
Experience Phases
Therefore, a good game designer will look at one game as 4
different games, which emphasizes on the 4 Ex...
Discovery Phase
 This is when people first discover your
game.
 How did they find it? Was it from a friend?
Through the ...
Onboarding Phase
 This is when you train them to become familiar with the rules
of the game, options, mechanics, and the ...
Scaffolding Phase
 This is the phase where players use all the rules and options
they learned during onboarding to try to...
Endgame Phase
 This is when players have done everything there is to do at least
once and are starting to see more repeti...
Game Design Goals
 Fun
 Interactive
 Social
 Easy to Learn
 Hard to Master
 Well-Paced
 Immersive
 Replay Value
 ...
Flow
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a
person performing an activity is fully immersed in a
feeling of ener...
Flow
Psychology professor Mihayli
Csikszentmihalyi identified some key factors
that could lead to such a phenomenon:
 Cle...
Flow
In 1997 he
provided the
world this visual
representation of
his theory.
Flow
 If a challenge exceeds
the abilities of the
current skill level, it can
lead to frustration
 If the skill level is...
Flow
 If we combine the ideas of
Flow and Player Journey,
you can begin to see how a
game, in theory, should
behave in an...
Flow
 Not all games have this
“ideal flow”.
 A game like Tetris would
have a flow like the top line.
Tetris. There are n...
Difficulty
 How much skill a player needs to have to
complete a game objective.
Games should be easy to learn, but hard to
master.
When Difficult Is Fun
Extra Credits: When Difficult Is Fun (7:44)
Discussion
 Why were early video games so difficult to
play?
 How did the game industry transition to the
philosophy of ...
Difficult vs. Punishing
 Rules should be consistent
 Players should be given enough resources
to solve challenges
 Play...
Difficult vs. Punishing
 Randomness should only be used for
variety and uncertainty (replay value)
 Low iteration time f...
Balance
A balanced game does
not give an unequal
advantage to any player
(or the game system).
The relative strength of di...
Are these two characters balanced?
The fighter, on the left, can do 6 points damage,
but the archer, on the right, does on...
Perfect Inbalance
 Slight deviations from
perfect balance so players
can discover what choices
will give them an edge
 C...
Metagaming
Metagame literally means 'beyond the game' and refers to
any planning, preparation, or maneuvering that a playe...
Complexity
The greater the
complexity, the
harder it is to
learn how to
play the game.
The number of rules or the number o...
A cluttered or non-intuitive interface can also
make a game too complex.
Complexity ≠ Difficulty
Difficulty Complexity
How much effort or skill is
needed to accomplish a task?
How many different ...
Depth
The greater the
depth, the harder
it is master the
game.
The ability to find enjoyment in a game as one’s
skill impr...
Depth
 Tic-Tac-Toe has few decisions, but it also
has few rules
 Chess has more rules and elements, but it
has many inte...
Complexity vs. Depth
 You want to create as much depth without
too much complexity.
 Depth comes from complexity, but to...
Ways to Reduce Complexity
 A well-crafted tutorial
 Don’t require the player to learn all the rules
before they start pl...
Pace
Pace is the speed of play, or how quickly the
player receives information and takes action
or makes decisions.
Turn-B...
Dramatic Pace
Proper Pacing
 Grab the player’s attention at the start, but keep it
short
 Give them a breather to set the proper basel...
Engagement Segments
 Arc: The game as a whole
 Scene: A subsection or level of the
game (this has its own engagement
cur...
Replay Value
 Play Value: The reason a person plays a
game
 Replay Value: The reason they play a
game over and over agai...
Age Appropriateness
The age or maturity level of a game’s
intended audience
Sid Meier: Everything You Know Is
Wrong
 Game design is a psychological experience in
which the designer needs to make th...
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis
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LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis

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Lecture for Level 3 of The Los Angeles Film School's Survey of the Videogame Industry course.

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LAFS SVI Level 3 - Game Design and Analysis

  1. 1. Level 3 David Mullich Survey of the Videogame Industry The Los Angeles Film School
  2. 2. 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?
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. Other Roles  Builder  Engineer  Scientist  Dreamer  Teacher  But NOT Boss
  5. 5. Designer Skills  Inspiration  Creativity  Process  Teamwork and most importantly,  Communication
  6. 6. The Designer’s Journey  Stage 1: Consumer  Stage 2: Tinkerer  Stage 3: Masher  Stage 4: Creator Teale Fristoe
  7. 7. Stage 1: Consumer We all begin our game designer lives as game consumers. 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.
  8. 8. 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. Or by making game levels. However, Tinkerers begin to realize that game design is not magic, but it is a lot of work.
  9. 9. Stage 3: Masher Mashers envision new games as collages of existing game genres, mechanics and themes. They tend to focus on these elements rather than on the player experience.
  10. 10. 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. Designers at this stage approach new games with a healthy emotional distance. They know that the initial idea is very rarely the best implementation, so keeping an open mind and keeping nothing sacred will tend to result in better final games.
  11. 11. Design Specialties  Lead Designer  System Designer  User Interface Designer  Technical Designer  Level Designer  Content Designer  Game Writer
  12. 12. Extra Credits, Season 1, Episode 16 - So You Want To Be A Game Designer (7:36)
  13. 13. 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?
  14. 14. The Iterative Design Process Every game takes its own journey from concept to product, but skilled designers use the iterative design process Teale Fristoe
  15. 15. Ideas All games start out as ideas. It’s very possible that initial ideas will be (or should be) abandoned, and lots of new ideas will be considered during the process.
  16. 16. Inspiration Ideas don’t come out of thin air. Game designers are influenced by personal interests and hobbies. Spend a significant part of every day doing something other than playing games:  Read a book  Go see a play  Listen to music  Exercise, draw or sketch  Take a class  Volunteer at a neighborhood organization
  17. 17. Game Designer’s Notebook Many designers carry a notebook for jotting down their ideas.
  18. 18. Stages of Creativity Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the classic stages of creativity:  Preparation: Becoming interested in a topic  Incubation: Period where ideas “churn around” in your subconscious  Insight: The “aha!” moment, where an idea comes together  Evaluation: Deciding whether the insight is worth pursuing  Elaboration: Fleshing out the idea
  19. 19. Game Idea Sources  Brilliant Inspiration  Licensing Hook  Technology Hook  Filling A Gap  Following Coattails  Orders From Above  Sequels
  20. 20. Brainstorming A group creativity technique to find a solution to a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. In games, brainstorming is used to generate a large number of ideas about game's concept, mechanics, setting, characters, etc.
  21. 21. Brainstorming Osborn’s method of brainstorming has four general rules:  Focus on quantity  Withhold criticism  Welcome unusual ideas  Combine and improve ideas Alex F. Osborn
  22. 22. Advice About Ideas  Come up with more ideas than you’ll need  Never rule out an idea as bad until you’ve tested it  Never accept an idea as good until you’ve tested it  Do not get emotionally attached to ideas
  23. 23. Planning Once a designer has promising ideas, it’s time to test them. Here, the keys are minimalism and focus. Identify what the most important questions you want to answer are and figure out the quickest way of discovering those answers.
  24. 24. Prototype Create a prototype that answers the questions at hand. A prototype is an early playable version of the game, section of game, or game system. A prototype, whether paper or electronic, should be: • Playable • Quick to Make • Easy to Change
  25. 25. Playtesters Playtesters are the people who play your game and provide feedback on the experience.  Observe their experience  Pay attention to what interests or frustrates them  They are your guide and it’s your mission to let them lead you
  26. 26. Playtesting OTHER TESTING  Alpha Testing  Focus Group Testing  Closed Beta  Open Beta Playtesting is an iterative process where the game is tested, the designer makes changes based on feedback, and the game is retested, over and over.
  27. 27. Playtesting Extra Credits: Playtesting (6:55)
  28. 28. Discussion  How soon should you begin playtesting your game?  Why is listening so important during playtesting?  How much talking should a designer do with playtesters?  Who is the worst playtester? Who is the best?
  29. 29. Evaluate After you playtest, consider your data.  How does it answer your questions?  If you were testing the quality of an idea, did it pass the test, or should it be thrown out?  If you saw problems, what caused the problems, and what can you do to fix them?
  30. 30. Done? Knowing when a game is finished can be even more difficult. A game is never finished, it’s just due. But you often won’t have external due dates, so it can be tempting to go on making tiny tweaks ad infinitum. Eventually, you’ll have to accept that a game is as good as it’s going to get.
  31. 31. Game Concept Defined by four elements:  Hardware Platform: Determines the controller configuration and technical limitations  Genre: Determines what the gameplay will feel like. Genres can be categorized by along two dimensions: Action vs. Strategy and Exploration vs. Conflict  Core Mechanic: Determines what the player will actually do in the game  Key Features: Determines what makes the game different or better than other games in that genre
  32. 32. Pitch Presentation A pitch is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation for a film, TV series, or game, made by the producer to an executive in the hope of getting the financing to do development. "Pitch" is a contraction of "sales pitch."
  33. 33. Elevator Pitch An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product and its value. The name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The term itself comes from the scenario of accidentally meeting someone important in an elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, then the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in the exchange of a business card or a scheduled meeting.
  34. 34. Example Pitch Somehow it always falls to Mustachio to rally his friends for their many adventures. Run and jump through a side- scrolling world made of and inhabited by blocks. With mustaches. A world full of action, puzzles and arbitrary danger that Mustachio faces boldly with his mustache-fueled power to make block duplicates of himself. What? Cloning AND mustaches?! You betcha! Elements: • Game Title • Genre • Target Customer • Play Value • Competition • Differentiation
  35. 35. Mood Board A Mood Board is a type of collage that may consist of images and text that graphic designers use to visually illustrate the style they are pursuing. Mood Boards can also be used to visually explain a style of writing or an imaginary setting for a storyline. They serve as a visual tool to quickly inform others of the overall "feel" (or "flow") that a designer is trying to achieve.
  36. 36. Greenlighting To green-light is to give permission to go ahead to move forward with a project. In the game industry, to green-light something is to formally approve its production finance, and to commit to this financing, thereby allowing the project to move forward from pre- production to production.
  37. 37. Game Design Document (GDD)  The lead designer is the principle author of all the game design document.  To a programmer and artist, it is the instructions for implementation.  However, design documentation should be a team effort, because almost everyone on the team plays games and can make great contributions to the design.
  38. 38. GDD Topics  High Concept  Background Story  Tone  Objective  Gameplay  Interface  Camera Perspective  Story Structure  Multiplayer  Difficulty  Completion Time  AI
  39. 39. GDD – Other Topics  Characters  License  World  Controls  Menu Structure  Levels  Graphics  Cut Scenes  Music  Sound Effects
  40. 40. The Soul of the Game A good GDD describes not just the Body but the Soul of the game. It should convey the feel that the game should have, the purpose behind each element, the experience each user will have, and any other aspects of the game's look and feel the designer can envision and describe.
  41. 41. Game Genres  Action  Ball and Paddle  Beat’em Up  Fighting Game  Maze Game  Pinball Game  Platform Game  Shooter ○ First Person Shooter ○ MMO FPS ○ Light Gun Shooter ○ Shoot ‘Em Up ○ Tactical Shooter ○ Rail Shooter ○ Third Person Shooter  Action-Adventure  Stealth Game  Survival Horror  Adventure  Real-Time 3D Adventure  Text Adventure  Graphic Adventure  Visual Novel  Role-Playing  Western/Japanese RPGs  Fantasy RPGs  Sandbox RPGs  Action RPGs  MMORPGs  Rogue RPGs  Tactical RPGS  Simulation  Construction/Management  Life  Vehicle  Strategy  4X Game  Artillery Game  Real-time Strategy  Real-time Tactics  Tower Defense  Turn-based Strategy  Turn-based Tactics  Wargame  Other  Casual Game  Music Game  Party Game  Programming Game  Puzzle Game  Sprots Game  Trivia Game  Board Game
  42. 42. Game Genres
  43. 43. Game Genres
  44. 44. Game Genres  Defined by gameplay interaction  Classified independent of their setting  Most fall within one genre but some are a combination of two or more genres
  45. 45. Combining Genres Extra Credits: Combining Genres (4:52)
  46. 46. Discussion  When combining genres, what should you focus on?  What is wrong with the hacking minigame in BioShock?  What’s right with the combat in PuzzleQuest?
  47. 47. Core Game Elements  Player Format  Objectives  Procedures  Rules  Resources  Theme (for some games)
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. Player Format
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. 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
  52. 52. Examples of Objectives  Capture  Chase  Race  Alignment  Rescue  Escape  Solve  Outwit  Beat the Clock  Collect  Build  Destroy  Explore  Advance Story
  53. 53. Types of Goals STRATEGIC (Mental) REFLEX (Physical) CHANCE (Random)
  54. 54. 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.
  55. 55. 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.
  56. 56. 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. 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.
  57. 57. Rule Hierarchy  Rules  Mechanics  Systems  Scoring  Progression  Economics Examples of Systems  Combat  Artificial Intelligence  Multiplayer
  58. 58. 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.
  59. 59. 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
  60. 60. Theme  Setting: The time and/or place where a game takes place  Characters: The people in the game setting whose actions cause the game (or game story) to progress  Story: A series of game events related to the game’s setting or characters that presents the player with an initial problem to solve near the game’s start and brings closure near the game’s end  Helps players become engaged  Makes game easier to learn  Tells a compelling story
  61. 61. Abstract Games While many games are thematic, some are abstract, meaning that they don’t have a theme.
  62. 62. The process of creating content and rules for games.
  63. 63. The Player’s Journey “Great games are compelling because the player’s experience and expertise changes over time in meaningful ways.” – Amy Jo Kim
  64. 64. Experience Phases Therefore, a good game designer will look at one game as 4 different games, which emphasizes on the 4 Experience Phases of a game, as defined by Professor Kevin Werbach:  Discovery  Onboarding  Scaffolding  Endgame
  65. 65. Discovery Phase  This is when people first discover your game.  How did they find it? Was it from a friend? Through the news? Or a clever marketing campaign?  How do we entice players to enter the Magic Circle and experience the other phases?
  66. 66. Onboarding Phase  This is when you train them to become familiar with the rules of the game, options, mechanics, and the win state.  This is what most designers focus on because everyone thinks once a player plays their game for some time, they will fall in love with it.  Mastering the Onboarding Process can get your users to start participate in your game with excitement and interest.
  67. 67. Scaffolding Phase  This is the phase where players use all the rules and options they learned during onboarding to try to achieve the win- state.  This is where the most “fun” should happen.  Once you have a well designed win state in scaffolding, you will start to see player engagement and motivation.
  68. 68. Endgame Phase  This is when players have done everything there is to do at least once and are starting to see more repetitive actions to get to the win-state.  In this phase, if the designer didn’t create a good endgame, people easily get bored and quit the game.  But a good endgame can be achieved through evergreen mechanics as well as creating a system where the game producers can easily add new content in a system consistently.  If you mastered the endgame, you will create a lot of contributors, evangelists, and long-term customers.
  69. 69. Game Design Goals  Fun  Interactive  Social  Easy to Learn  Hard to Master  Well-Paced  Immersive  Replay Value  Affordable  Manageable in Scope and Time
  70. 70. Flow Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. When players experience flow, time stops, nothing else matters and when they finally come out of it, they have no concept of how long they have been playing.
  71. 71. Flow Psychology professor Mihayli Csikszentmihalyi identified some key factors that could lead to such a phenomenon:  Clear goals and progress  Constant and Immediate feedback  Balance between the perceived challenge and the perceived level of skill needed
  72. 72. Flow In 1997 he provided the world this visual representation of his theory.
  73. 73. Flow  If a challenge exceeds the abilities of the current skill level, it can lead to frustration  If the skill level is increasing faster than the challenge, it leads to boredom  Both of these will normally end with the player leaving the game
  74. 74. Flow  If we combine the ideas of Flow and Player Journey, you can begin to see how a game, in theory, should behave in an ideal world.  You start off with a challenge that is acceptable for a new comer who is starting in the game – on- boarding.  Over time, you increase the challenge as skills increase. Most games tend to build up each level to a boss battle of some type.
  75. 75. Flow  Not all games have this “ideal flow”.  A game like Tetris would have a flow like the top line. Tetris. There are no lulls in the progression with Tetris. It just gets faster and faster, and you might feel frustrated until you achieve Mastery.  A game like WOW would have a flow like the bottom line. You must endure grinding until you get to the interesting sequences.
  76. 76. Difficulty  How much skill a player needs to have to complete a game objective.
  77. 77. Games should be easy to learn, but hard to master.
  78. 78. When Difficult Is Fun Extra Credits: When Difficult Is Fun (7:44)
  79. 79. Discussion  Why were early video games so difficult to play?  How did the game industry transition to the philosophy of “Everyone Wins”?  Why are we seeing more difficult games now?  What’s the difference between “difficult” and “punishing”?
  80. 80. Difficult vs. Punishing  Rules should be consistent  Players should be given enough resources to solve challenges  Players need to be given enough information to make decisions  The player’s choices should be meaningful
  81. 81. Difficult vs. Punishing  Randomness should only be used for variety and uncertainty (replay value)  Low iteration time for trying again  Create useable control interfaces  When the player fails, they should feel they could have done better
  82. 82. Balance A balanced game does not give an unequal advantage to any player (or the game system). The relative strength of different resources, mechanics, objectives and starting states.
  83. 83. Are these two characters balanced? The fighter, on the left, can do 6 points damage, but the archer, on the right, does only 1 point of damage.
  84. 84. Perfect Inbalance  Slight deviations from perfect balance so players can discover what choices will give them an edge  Cyclical Inbalance: When players gravitate to a weaker gameplay element looking for ways to defeat a stronger one.
  85. 85. Metagaming Metagame literally means 'beyond the game' and refers to any planning, preparation, or maneuvering that a player does outside of actual gameplay to gain an advantage.  Strategic decisions to exploit the game’s rules  Strategic decisions to exploit an opponent's or map's style of play  Strategic decisions to exploit a player's reaction or weakened mental state in the future. This is also known as 'mind games' or 'psychological warfare'.
  86. 86. Complexity The greater the complexity, the harder it is to learn how to play the game. The number of rules or the number of elements with which the player interacts.
  87. 87. A cluttered or non-intuitive interface can also make a game too complex.
  88. 88. Complexity ≠ Difficulty Difficulty Complexity How much effort or skill is needed to accomplish a task? How many different steps or skills are needed to accomplish a task? How many people can accomplish a task correctly? How many different ways can a task be accomplished? Easy or Hard Simple or Complex
  89. 89. Depth The greater the depth, the harder it is master the game. The ability to find enjoyment in a game as one’s skill improves.
  90. 90. Depth  Tic-Tac-Toe has few decisions, but it also has few rules  Chess has more rules and elements, but it has many interesting decisions  Monopoly has even more rules and elements, but relatively few meaningful decisions Depth is directly related to the number of interesting decisions the player can make.
  91. 91. Complexity vs. Depth  You want to create as much depth without too much complexity.  Depth comes from complexity, but too much complexity also reduces depth.  Elegance in design is therefore something that is high in depth to complexity ratio.
  92. 92. Ways to Reduce Complexity  A well-crafted tutorial  Don’t require the player to learn all the rules before they start playing  Intuitive user interface  Lower the rate at which player’s must make decisions
  93. 93. Pace Pace is the speed of play, or how quickly the player receives information and takes action or makes decisions. Turn-Based Real-Time
  94. 94. Dramatic Pace
  95. 95. Proper Pacing  Grab the player’s attention at the start, but keep it short  Give them a breather to set the proper baseline for the experience  Oscillate engagement level in a steadily increasing manner  Intermittent reinforcement is more powerful than constant reinforcement  Bring player’s down after an intense experience so that they feel closure
  96. 96. Engagement Segments  Arc: The game as a whole  Scene: A subsection or level of the game (this has its own engagement curve)  Action: A specific moment of player experience (even this should follow an engagement curve)
  97. 97. Replay Value  Play Value: The reason a person plays a game  Replay Value: The reason they play a game over and over again Designers increase replay value by:  Adding more choices to make and things to discover  Increasing depth  Multiplayer gameplay
  98. 98. Age Appropriateness The age or maturity level of a game’s intended audience
  99. 99. Sid Meier: Everything You Know Is Wrong  Game design is a psychological experience in which the designer needs to make the player feel good about playing the game  Winner Paradox: Player gladly accepts a win, but complains about an (unsatisfactory) loss  Unholy Alliance (between designer and player): It’s important for the designer to make the player feel good about their ability, while the player needs to suspend their disbelief  The First Fifteen Minutes: Needs to be very engaging and foreshadows the rest of the game Sid Meier

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