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MaxNukem

The Ultimate Game Design Book...

7 posts in this topic

No that's not that name of an actual book -- though it'd be nice to have such a book! :-) However, let's pretend someone is writing such a book... What key issues and topics would you like to see discussed in a book on game design that has not been covered (or covered well) in previous books of this type? (Please maintain the focus on game design issues, tips, etc., and not with starting a development business, publisher agreements, etc.) Scott Miller, 3D Realms P.S. Isn't it a neat trick that I can edit this message before I post it! ;-) Edited by - MaxNukem on 3/25/00 5:13:16 PM Edited by - MaxNukem on 3/25/00 5:14:32 PM
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Id say its already been done:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1576104257/o/qid=954027625/sr=8-1/104-5558294-1079610

There can always be more written on such a huge subject, but I consider this as important for a designer as Code Complete is to a programmer.

I think Andrew and Dave get into a lot of good areas and case studies (which were my favorite areas of the book).

If I were to think of areas independently of any material already created though (as you requested), I would have to say:

- Creating characters (these guys are what really create player empathy and are sorely misunderstood by most people in the industry IMO. We could all learn a lot from the medias that came before us on this one)

- Creating backgrounds (Another biggie. Not everything should start out from Blade Runner and go from there...)

- Determining the point. What is the player focusing on? What will their challenges be? Can you find successful pieces this has already been achieved in with prior games, or failures that could be improved to work?

- Balancing pieces. This is something that is not strictly academic, as you often have to mess with the game after its finished for a very long time to make this come out correctly, but some nice material on how to START in an academic fashion (charts for comparing different unit types, and ways the game was made to be played in) could be a good start on making that later play balancing easier/faster and possibly more successful.

- Discussions on the pace of the game. Does the game start slow and build up? Does it die at the end? (as so many do) etc.

Could be a ton more things to discuss, and most of these could have their own books (there are a slew for the other medias, this shouldnt be any different IMO)

-Geoff


Edited by - ghowland on 3/25/00 5:49:34 PM
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I would say one thing that hasn''t been covered, or at least I haven''t read it yet.. is the process or at least tips in the actual forming of the basic game idea itself.

How did the idea for Lemmings evolve? or Tetris?

I''ve found in the very short time I have been designing games, that there is almost of process (albiet, not a solid process) but a series of steps in coming up with an original game idea, then thinking it through to find any design flaws,...then overcoming those design flaws while still keeping the original idea intact.

I think if a book spent some time regarding the above topic...it would at the least seperate itself from the bulk of other game design books out there. I know that the topic is pretty abstract, but at least some tips to aid people in how to think up an original game idea would be great.

-Tim Yarosh
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ghowland: >>> I think Andrew and Dave get into a lot of good areas and case studies (which were my favorite areas of the book). <<<

I liked their book, too. But, their book, IMO, failed to cover the specific area of game design well--though it covered it as well or better than any book I''ve seen. I think their book is better as a guide for project management that actual game design.

Your listed issues are good, though.

Peddler: >>> I think if a book spent some time regarding the above topic...it would at the least seperate itself from the bulk of other game design books out there. I know that the topic is pretty abstract, but at least some tips to aid people in how to think up an original game idea would be great. <<<

Do you have any tips to share?

Scott
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There is one huge area missing, too, playability. It is something what isn''t handle very well. Oh, of course there are some little chapters about it, but not like How do I make gui which is soo eaasy and soo user friendly that you want to play the game even because of it. Mostly in commercial game GUIs are very same, the look like same, they feel like same, even the controlls are same that they were in early FP-shooters (Duke Nukem 3D, Quake). I think devoleppers are afraid of turning off from protocoll. It isn''t that hard to build completely game UI, but If it is good, it''ll be copied.

-However, let''s pretend someone is writing such a book...
-
-What key issues and topics would you like to see
-discussed -in a book on game design that has not been
-covered (or covered well) in previous books of this type?
-(Please maintain the focus on game design issues, tips,
-etc., and not with starting a development business,
-publisher agreements, etc.)


So you are writing that kind of book? Aren''t you? =)
Cool issues would be how do I make ppl to play my game, playability, GUI, Concerning on game details(those things are the things that makes difference between game and good game). Of couse some ideas from game genres, genres pros and cons, dos and don''ts. Good examples and bad examples, Why to write rpg, why to write FPS, how to make new tetris. Those tips should concern graphical look and ways to handle movements, not any code though...

Hey Nukem, how did you edit your post before posting it? =)


Time comes, time goes and I only am.
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Well, any tips I would have would be coming from someone who has yet to release their first game , but I''ll see if I can put a few tips together.

Yes, GUI would be a good topic to tackle, perhaps display some interfaces from games with great interfaces in the book and point out what makes them great, rather then just simply stating "A good game with a bad user-interface ends being a bad game"..nothing is easier then learning from example.






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Just like to state that I disagree with Archon on both the suggestions that GUIs are easy to make (unless you are just straight copying windows) or that interfaces in general are easy to make.

Interfacing with the user is one of the most diffifcult parts of any application, indeed its what makes interactive software so much harder to write than demos or server software. You have to deal with user unpredictability, user learning curves, user assumptions, user abuse, etc, etc.

As for the "gameplay interface" such as movement in a top-down, or iso-down, or first person interfaces, how many ways exactly CAN you be creative with these? There are a limited number of possibilities, and even less that are easy to use, and even less that people already know well enough that theyd be interested in playing your game.

People generally DONT LIKE to have to learn everything from scratch when trying to play something fun. They want something that either gives them a new experience with the same interfaces they know how to use, or else only slightly changes the interface so that they dont have to learn everything over.

I know I have walked away from games because they interface was too complex or would take too long for me to invest in learning before I could know if I even liked the game (Battlezone (the newer remake) comes to mind). This is how most people are, and its not a flaw in the user, its a flaw in the designer if he expects people to bow down to HIS creation. Thats a whole nother rant though on ego-driven design

-Geoff
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quote:
Original post by ghowland

Just like to state that I disagree with Archon on both the suggestions that GUIs are easy to make (unless you are just straight copying windows) or that interfaces in general are easy to make.

Interfacing with the user is one of the most diffifcult parts of any application, indeed its what makes interactive software so much harder to write than demos or server software. You have to deal with user unpredictability, user learning curves, user assumptions, user abuse, etc, etc.

As for the "gameplay interface" such as movement in a top-down, or iso-down, or first person interfaces, how many ways exactly CAN you be creative with these? There are a limited number of possibilities, and even less that are easy to use, and even less that people already know well enough that theyd be interested in playing your game.

People generally DONT LIKE to have to learn everything from scratch when trying to play something fun. They want something that either gives them a new experience with the same interfaces they know how to use, or else only slightly changes the interface so that they dont have to learn everything over.

I know I have walked away from games because they interface was too complex or would take too long for me to invest in learning before I could know if I even liked the game (Battlezone (the newer remake) comes to mind). This is how most people are, and its not a flaw in the user, its a flaw in the designer if he expects people to bow down to HIS creation. Thats a whole nother rant though on ego-driven design

-Geoff



Firstly I''d like add my opinions. Battle Zone was exelent mix of some fps and strategy game althought burger players didn''t accept it. I''ll take easy example. Diablo movement was done by mouse clicking, now what if they had made character movement by numpad or w a s d? Pressing W would mean that character goes forward and A & D would have make PC to strafe, mouse would have turned character and pressing mouse button would have make it attack? I think developpers are just afraid to bring new way to control units, because of bad examples like Battlezone? Why always RTS look like same, stupid side bar or bottom bar where appears units portrait and some data and buildings? There must be other ways to do it like transparent popup windows or Alpha Blended box. Let''s take example Command & Conquer, let''s say Red Alert (I didn''t bother for CCTS): Every time you move mouse on building there appears popup window on it, there you can choose what do you want to build or add to building list, this would leave some room for unit controlling like custom formations, map, bigger game screen and well all cool thing you might need. Once I saw this kind of GUI in shareware RTS and it was better than Starcraft''s, C&C''s or TA''s gui. Well, I can''t disagree that in FPS''s there aren''t this kind of freedom, I compare them anyway to Mass Music, where cooool chick sing with computer modified voice, silicon implants and tight ass. Of course in FPS they are replaced with blood and more usual weapons like super bazooooooooooooooooooooka 400 which is the only weapon in game, by popular demand, of course. It reduces average life-time after spawn(in multiplayer) to 0.4 secs, now it is 1.0 because you have to run to enemy base to spawn kill or camp. This is the way I see it



Time comes, time goes and I only am.
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