Sunday, 22 April 2012

Game design.

To develop a good knowledge of game design you must first have an understanding of the major disciplines in games . In my opinion there are a few “disciplines” that attribute to a good game. They would be - Characters, story, gameplay mechanics, objective and artistic direction. These attributes i’ve chosen based off my own experiences with games.

The reason games, in my opinion, are better than movies is because you get to participate within the story. An epic story can make broken or boring gameplay an afterthought, as it did for me in Assassins Creed 1. I played through the repetitive and at times boring gameplay to learn more about the animus and what the assassination targets had to say, all of the information coming together to bring a cool although slightly weird ending. Another example would be Deux Ex: Human Revolution, although the gameplay wasn’t “bad”, in my opinion it was only slightly over average at best and often broken. However the twists and turns of the story kept me stuck to the screen until i had finished the game. Some games prefer to get an amazing story told than adding new or innovative gameplay elements, Hell, Metal Gear Solid 4 was practically a playable movie!

Old games such as Pacman or Digdug didn’t have the means to show off a big elaborate story, but through fun and, at the time, new gameplay elements. I feel that over time gameplay has been pushed down the list of priorities for game devs, which gave light to the ever creative minds of indy developers eager to create fun and new gameplay. Games such as Sequence on the Pc merged gameplay elements of guitar hero and pokemon to make a truly fun and interesting little game. Look at Borderlands for example. A game with a simple story. You’re on a planet hunting for a big treasure. The rest is fun, addicting gameplay. Also games like Super Mario and Legend of Zelda. They pretty much copy and paste the story, but its the gameplay we come back to.

Character and overall art direction are pretty similar within games. Characters are important in games as they pull us into the game and provide us with emotional context. Once these characters have pulled us in it is then the work of the art direction to keep us within the game. A strong art direction can make for some powerful atmosphere whilst playing games. One recent game with amazing art direction would be Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The heavily used black and gold palette really sets the mood for the game and makes it stand out from other games.

Ultimately the thing i look for in a game is fun. If i don’t find a game fun i won’t play it. Please mind that fun is a pretty broad word in this case as even though i find it fun to play skyrim cutting people’s heads off is not what i’d call a fun evening in real life, it is more the experience that i find to be fun. Dear esther is a game i played a couple of weeks ago. It is short and the only gameplay elements you have at your disposal is basic movement, however the combination of a nice story narration and amazingly nice environment modelling made it a great experience for me.

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