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Kuittinen&Holopainen @ DIGRA 2009


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"Some Notes on the nature of game design", presented at DIGRA conference, 2009.

Published in: Design, Entertainment & Humor
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Kuittinen&Holopainen @ DIGRA 2009

  1. 1. Some notes on the nature of game design Jussi Kuittinen (University of Jyväskylä) Jussi Holopainen (Nokia Research Center) © Annakaisa Kultima
  2. 2. How are these equal? © Annakaisa Kultima
  3. 3. They are all designed for a certain purpose © Annakaisa Kultima
  4. 4. • Game design literature concentrates on the content of the design i.e. games and features of games • Game design is an activity like all forms of design and should be studied as such. © Annakaisa Kultima
  5. 5. Linear process model Idea Design Implementation Testing Maintenance © Annakaisa Kultima
  6. 6. Iterative process model Design Analyze Test © Annakaisa Kultima
  7. 7. The black box of design needs to be opened © Annakaisa Kultima
  8. 8. Two complementary models • Löwgren and Stolterman’s (2007) abstraction layers • Lawson’s model of design thinking (2005) © Annakaisa Kultima
  9. 9. The abstraction model by Löwgren and Stolterman Vision Operative image Specification © Annakaisa Kultima
  10. 10. Vision • The first guiding principles or ideas “A STYLIZED HORROR SHOOTER. THE FRENETIC gameplay of DEVIL MAY CRY meets the horror setting of RESIDENT EVIL and the immersive game-world of HALF-LIFE.” The Suffering “There were various issues of this nature, but when questions came up, we could always turn to our vision statement for guidance and inspiration.” Titan Quest “We wanted a bright friendly world set in a historical but mythological time frame. We wanted to offer unique gameplay features that would appeal to hardcore gamers yet always be accessible to the casual audience. Fun and commonsensical approaches [..] which helped to keep the focus on player enjoyment. Moving forward, we made all our decisions in light of this overarching vision [..]” Titan Quest © Annakaisa Kultima
  11. 11. Operative image • First explicit representations of the vision © Annakaisa Kultima
  12. 12. Specification • Sufficiently detailed operative image that can instruct how to construct the final artefact © Annakaisa Kultima
  13. 13. [Implementation] • Construction and delivery of the final artefact © Annakaisa Kultima
  14. 14. Leaping between layers Vision Operative image Specification © Annakaisa Kultima
  15. 15. The abstraction model by Löwgren and Stolterman Vision Operative image Specification © Annakaisa Kultima
  16. 16. Lawson’s model of designing • Formulating • Representing • Moving • Bringing problems and solutions together • Evaluating • Reflecting © Annakaisa Kultima
  17. 17. Formulating • Identifying the elements of the design situation • Framing the design situation in a way that allows an experimental design move to be made. “[..]THE SUFFERING was to be an action horror game, instead of a survival horror game. This meant we were going to focus more on combat and avoid the long cut-scenes, frail central characters, clumsy controls, fixed camera angles, and sparse ammo of many console horror games.“ The Suffering “With each of the basic punches, jabs, hooks, and uppercuts, you could see basic motions that your fist made with each punch. It finally dawned on us that you could [..] let [the gamers] make the same motions with the analog sticks that boxers make in real life with their fists.” EA Sports Fight Night 2004 “We tried to ask ourselves the same questions about each scene, page, and individual line of dialogue. Why does this exist? What information or emotion does this bring to the story?” Gun © Annakaisa Kultima
  18. 18. Representing • Creating representations of the design situation to make possible design choices more concrete “To start, we decided to visualize the RATCHET & CLANK universe PS3- style by recreating Metropolis, one of the iconic locations from our PS2 series. We did this by building a “diorama” of the city, adding vehicles, and sending a camera through it. We built our test city using the RESISTANCE engine, stitched together a frame by frame camera fly through, and added audio effects to simulate the experience of being in Metropolis” Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction “our game and level design work had much more in common with HALF- LIFE than with DMC [Devil May Cry], except for our controls. [..] What we had originally implemented was a target-lock system inspired by SYPHON FILTER [..] and DMC” The Suffering © Annakaisa Kultima
  19. 19. Moving • Creating new or modifying existing design solutions “Once we recalibrated the game to be more like a shooter, we simplified many of the deeper systems tremendously so that the user would be able to understand them. [..] We ended up with fewer choices overall, but each one of those choices was infinitely more functional, understandable, and fun than the previous ones.“ BioShock © Annakaisa Kultima
  20. 20. Bringing problems and solutions together • Solutions and problems are two aspects of the design situation and may be hard to discern from each other “We asked for the tilt sensor and whammy bar well before we had any clear idea of how they would be used in the game” Guitar Hero © Annakaisa Kultima
  21. 21. Evaluating • Making judgements concerning the design situation “When confronted with any art or design question, it was great to be able to ask, “Does this rock?” and proceed accordingly.” Guitar Hero “[..] the entire design team [..] headed off to see how a group that knew nothing about our company or BIO SHOCK would react to the first level. It was brutal. The first level, they said, was overly dense, confusing, and not particularly engaging. Players would acquire new powers but not know how to use them, so they stuck to using more traditional weapons and became frustrated.” BioShock © Annakaisa Kultima
  22. 22. Reflecting • Reflection-in-action is the designer’s continual thinking about the design situation • Reflection-on-action is a high-level activity of monitoring the design process Postmortems themselves ” The questions we constantly asked were: Does it feel like you’re going fast? Does it feel good to punch the other skaters (and pedestrians)? Does it feel like gravity is pulling you downhill? Does it feel good to power-slide around a corner?” Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam for Wii © Annakaisa Kultima
  23. 23. Why are we doing this? © Annakaisa Kultima
  24. 24. Impact and future work • Understanding design activity allows us to – Develop and refine methods – Raise critical awareness of game design – Better situate game design into a larger cultural context © Annakaisa Kultima
  25. 25. Thank you! Questions? © Annakaisa Kultima