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beantas

Design within Game Genres

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Is good game design universal? Could a good game designer design a game in any genre? Could Sid Meier create the next great FPS? Could Peter Molyneux create the greatest sports game ever?

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I have to agree with Symphonic. That would be tantamount to expecting George Bush to lead the way in therotical physics, or asking could Chopin have ever created a good techno track. Nobody is good at everything, and while trying to diversify to learn your limits is a good thing, it is always wrong to assume or pretend that you are something you are not, or can do something you can''t. You should always let an element of doubt be present.


If at first you don''t succeed, call it version 1.0

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I think that some of the basic principles of game design are universal, and can be applied to any genre. However, I also think that to design a competent game of a given genre you really need to have a strong interest in that genre, and a reasonable level of experience with similar games.

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quote:
Bush: Beantas did say good game designer...


:D :D :D

quote:
(backs towards door whistling)

It''s OK.

1) I''m Irish.
2) I don''t like Bush much either... but lets not turn the thread into another Bush-basher; we have enough of those as it is.


If at first you don''t succeed, call it version 1.0

SketchSoft | SketchNews


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hmm...it seems to me that they are good game designers because they aren''t thinknig about genres in the first place.
Molyneux didn''t sit down and say: "I''m gonna invent the God Game now". Meier wasn''t trying to make a "strategy game" specifically. The key is to make a FUN game, not any specific type of game.

I think that though they COULD make a good game in a genre they are not used to, odds are that they WONT simply because that isnt what they find to be the most fun.

Gamed design, just like poetry or painting, isn''t some magic that people are just born with. It is a learnable skill. And whatever is being made, it is the amount of hard work that is really going to make the difference in whether it is a fun game or not.

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Very little of game design is universal beyond programming. If Sid Meier were given the source code for Quake, he''d be able to understand what each part does. He wouldn''t necessarily have any clue as to why. Similarly for Molyneux and NFL Blitz.

Wait a minute... Isn''t Molyneux making a baseball game? I guess Civ 4: Screw the Empire, Let''s Settle This Like Men isn''t that far off then?

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I''d say yes. As far as Sid Meier, remember he also did Railroad Tycoon, a great business sim, and Pirates which would be pretty hard to decide what genre that belongs to, he''s done a lot more than just Civ.

Jack

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So then the next question is, if you''ve played every game there is in a genre, can you design a game in that genre well (without having made a game in that genre before)?

I''d like to think that the answer to this question is yes. And then a good game designer should be able to take universal game principles, play a lot of games in any genre, and be able to design a game relatively well in any genre.

And yes, I agree that this doesn''t happen mainly because designers prefer some genres over others. Which I think is baloney.

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quote:
Original post by Kugels
Gamed design, just like poetry or painting, isn''t some magic that people are just born with. It is a learnable skill.


I have to disagree on this. You can learn how to hold a pencil and write with it, but that doesn''t mean you are able to write an interesting story. Game design requires talent, and if you want to do a lot by yourself you will even need multiple talents (programming, graphics, music etc).
Ohterwise you are saying you can paint like Rembrandt if you just practice enough.

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"Ohterwise you are saying you can paint like Rembrandt if you just practice enough"

Yep. I believe that.

Thomas Edison didn't invent a million things just by being Thomas Edison. He worked his @$$ off. Poe actually wrote about how there is a definite process he went through when writing his POEtry, mentioning how it was silly it was for people to think that the creative people, as some people like to call them, are just born with the ability.

I don't mean to say that there is no such thing as talent, I'm sure that it is easier for some people to make an awesome game than others. But what really stops one of us from working on an idea for years and coming up with something as great as The Sims or Civ or Tetris?

None of these guys just came up with the idea while on the john one day and then just made a game out of it. The Sims especially became a success because Will Wright busted his butt for years seeing how people react to things, what made it fun, what was boring, how to make the UI so accessible, turning the idea from SimArchitect to a people simulator along the way.

What does differentiate game designers is
1. persistence/motivation
2. having the connections to get something funded
3. experience
4. knowing which ideas to throw away.

So, I think that good ol' Sid could make an FPS or just about anything...but I don't think he would make a shooter just because it really isn't his style, but who knows?

[edited by - Kugels on October 18, 2002 12:46:55 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Kugels
...But what really stops one of us from working on an idea for years and coming up with something as great as The Sims or Civ or Tetris?



The sheer skills to get it done.

Edit: Think again. Don't insult talented people by saying everyone can do it. Not that I feel spoken to, I have been working my ass off for ten years now and still no AAA in the pocket.

[edited by - Prototype on October 18, 2002 1:44:27 PM]

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"But what really stops one of us from working on an idea for years and coming up with something as great as The Sims or Civ or Tetris?"
"The sheer skills to get it done."

True, but my point was that they are learnable skills. And I guess I didn''t consider the fact that you have to be able to convince somebody to give you the funding for it too. Also, I was only talking about design. Not taking it all the way from an idea to a AAA product.

...I don''t mean to insult anybody...in fact if anything it should have made the people who have done finished a good game feel better because what I said makes it like something they earned rather than something they just have.

Well, what it comes down to is that I know I''m not going to quit games just because I don''t think have some kind of magical abilities. I''m just going to have to settle for hard work

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I personally don''t think so. It''d be like saying that a great composer should be able to create great music in any genre, from punk rock to classical to bluesgras and everything inbetween.

Music has genres which specialize in their own areas and I thikn game genres are much the same. I don''t think there is a universal principle of good game design, however I do think there may be some things that are in common...but getting all the things in common is not enough to make a good game.

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I would say: yes, to a degree, but only to that degree. A great designer will appreciate the psychology of gameplay and how a player needs to be rewarded (and occasionally punished), what kind of things will be appreciated and what will not, etc. However such a designer will always benefit from an associate who is intimately familiar with the genre, as each genre will come with its own expectations and limitations.

I think the hallmark of ''good game design'' involves an element of being able to take 2 designs that look totally different, and understand why they both succeed. It''s like having a ''grand unified theory'' of game design rather than lots of very specific ideas.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan
However such a designer will always benefit from an associate who is intimately familiar with the genre, as each genre will come with its own expectations and limitations.



Then if a hypothetical game designer is intimately familiar with multiple genres, he could design a good game in each of those genres, no? So as long as you have good fundamental game design skills, with wisdom and knowledge pertaining to a genre, you can become a good designer in that genre?

Oh and there are _many_ artists who are known for creating in different genres. Movie directors, musicians, artists, etc.

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quote:
Original post by Kugels
hmm...it seems to me that they are good game designers because they aren''t thinknig about genres in the first place.
Molyneux didn''t sit down and say: "I''m gonna invent the God Game now". Meier wasn''t trying to make a "strategy game" specifically. The key is to make a FUN game, not any specific type of game.

I agree. Most of the better game designers think of the kind of system they want to implement and the kind of experience they want a player to have and try to implement it in the best way possible. Genre''s are just well defined systems that happen to make interesting gameplay experiences. If you look at guys like Molyneux, Wright, Spector, etc. they don''t really make games that fit into one genre (although if well executed they start new genres.)

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quote:
Original post by beantas
Then if a hypothetical game designer is intimately familiar with multiple genres, he could design a good game in each of those genres, no? So as long as you have good fundamental game design skills, with wisdom and knowledge pertaining to a genre, you can become a good designer in that genre?



Basically yes. Game Design is a task much like any other job, if you have the necessary skills and knowledge (which usually applies to all genres anyway) then you can design any kind of game.

And those skills come (mostly) from: learning and experience. Sure, at some point you have to be creative, but ideas are a dime a dozen, what it takes is the brains to see the usable ones and keep working on them until they are good.

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quote:
Original post by beantas
Then if a hypothetical game designer is intimately familiar with multiple genres, he could design a good game in each of those genres, no?

Certainly. But time and experience is the limiting factor here. Most game designers, even the great ones, will probably not have the time or resources to come close to mastering more than 2 genres, although I am sure they would make good project leaders on other genres, especially related ones.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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quote:

Is good game design universal? Could a good game designer design a game in any genre? Could Sid Meier create the next great FPS? Could Peter Molyneux create the greatest sports game ever?



YES

but it depends on your definition of game genres...how ''exclusive'' you think they should be...

game design is a creative endevor...sure there is the ellement of craft to it (craft as in a collection of techniques)...but there is also a portion of creativity in how these crafts are applied.

A person could study how to draw (write music, whatever)...and effectively ''master'' a set of drawing techniques...but even when many such ''masters'' work on drawing a specific image (such as a still-life) they all will use their skills in different ways...no two images will be the same, because they had to individualy decide on how to apply thier techniques to the work at hand.

now if your view of any genre limits it to a set of specific features then you may not see that such specific features share common ground with other genres.

An example is the film the Matrix...a person who has a limited view of the sci-fi genre may claim the film fits the genre to a tee...another may see the film fitting into the action genre instead...but people who find such genre specifics limiting will see that the film can fit into a wide range of genres.

Mozart could make a punk rock album if he wanted to...sure genre ''pureist'' prolly wouldn''t like it...mainly because by ''crossing such genres'' sort of defuses them...blurs the ''boundries'' that such purists put up...

If you gave two film directors the same script, sets, actors, and props...you would still end up with two different films...this is because each will applay thier techniques in slightly different ways...imagine if Spielburg directed Star Wars..or James Cameron did..or George Remaro...the film would turn out quite differently...maybe even better, or even worse in reguards to how the genre purists view the flick



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quote:
Original post by beantas
So then the next question is, if you''ve played every game there is in a genre, can you design a game in that genre well (without having made a game in that genre before)?

I''d like to think that the answer to this question is yes. And then a good game designer should be able to take universal game principles, play a lot of games in any genre, and be able to design a game relatively well in any genre.

>I think you are trying to rationalize a creative process, and formulate designers. You may do that with design principles, approaches, techniques and styles, but you can''t with the human element. You have not even given any consideration to the funny thing that happens in creative fields no matter how patiently and rationally the art form builds upon itself; one day, somebody comes along and just blows it up to a level that everybody wonders why they never saw it coming. We haven''t had our picasso in game design yet, but he or she is out there, and working right now.

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan
Most game designers, even the great ones, will probably not have the time or resources to come close to mastering more than 2 genres, [...]


Rubbish, game design is not about "mastering genres", every game is different in its way, every game requires a lot of research before design proper even gets underway. Every designer will have some preferences of genre or system, but a good designer will be able to write you a good GD for every game, no matter what the genre is. Game Design is not a mystical process, its a very solid and structured process which, granted, is a little bit different every time, but which relies on principles which are valid and useful for every genre out there.
A good game designer does not design the game HE wishes to play, but rather that which the target audience wishes to play. If you can do that right, you can do anything.


PS: your sig is horrible in quotes.

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quote:

Game Design is not a mystical process, its a very solid and structured process which, granted, is a little bit different every time,



Not quite so...game design is basied more on designer intuition then structured principals which is why games turn out differently.

quote:

A good game designer does not design the game HE wishes to play, but rather that which the target audience wishes to play.



Nope...a good game designer has good design instincts...has nothing to do with explicitly pleaseing target audiances....a good game designer makes the game He wants to play, with the idea in mind that it should reach a target audiance...a good game designer puts a ''little of themselves'' in the game in the form of instinct basied gameplay choices they made.

You are right in that genres are really meeningless...mastering them is pointless as they offer nothing to be mastered (else there would be little point in developing new games in the genre)...any designer who goes against thier gamedesign instincts in a effort ot please a target audiance is bound to produce crappy games...indeed "target audiances" are much more genre explicit in defineing thier expectations of the genre, which tends to impare good game design anyway...if the target audiance wants Quake...and you, as the designer, give them something that goes against your design instincts...the game will suffer because of it, and the target audiance will not be pleased...

Good game designers follow thier personnel gamedesign instincts, period...



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Intuition?

Maybe for generating the original idea, but certainly not the bulk of game design. It is really crazy when you think about it. Do you think publishers would be shelling out these millions of dollars on games where the designer just went with what he thought was cool, without doing research, playtesting, focus groups and so on?

I refer you to Gamasutra.com. There you can find many articles by game designers showing how good design does NOT come from intution.

It seems our discussion is really about whether there is some kind of magic happening in the brains of game designers, or artists of any kind...which some people seem to view almost religiously.

Anyway, I think that if you actually asked a renowned game designer, none would say that intuition is what made them so succesful, but rather tons of time and effort spent discovering what is fun and what isn''t.

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