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Waverider

Is there a correct order to designing the pieces of a game?

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I tend to focus on the player''s ability to maneuver and ability to use the game interface before adding anything else. For instance, I programmed a little Asteroids clone where the player''s ship stays in the center and a multi-level starfield scrolls by underneath. I waited until I got the speed, acceleration, maneuverability, shot speed and stars right before I added the asteroids. I imagine if you are making a 3D first-person game, that you should also focus on how the player can maneuver and get that tweaked properly before you add the other obstacles. If your little test always starts the player out in a room with a lot of objects and enemies to dodge, it might skew the feel you have for how the player should be able to maneuver when there is nothing else around. I also tend to think that the basic feel of the environment should be established (color of the sky, style of particle effects, etc.) before you tweak the style of the obstacles you face and how they will express themselves. That way the environment drives the style, much like how the environment in real life determines what happens within it (as occurs in nature). Even after all of this, I might find myself tweaking the player''s maneuvering to make the encounters more enjoyable and "gamey". But I think that might take away from the experience the player has when there are no enemies to face. The player might feel like they need to encounter something to justify how they are able to maneuver. I know this is a very subjective topic. Are there any patterns you use when developing/designing a game?

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This is a very interesting topic to discuss. I use blender for games often, and it is really interesting because you can tweak your game SOOOO easily. No compiling, so you think that your character moves a little too loose, you can go in, tighten it a bit, and press play again within seconds. You would think this would be a good thing, but it leads to an extreme tweak mentality, where you never feel like the settings are quite right.

It''s hard when you have no benchmarks as to how different things feel. A lot of games are great to control and play around when no enemies are around, but when the enemies arive you feel out of control. Like die bie the sword. It''s fun to wing your sword around and stuff on your own, but when your fighting more than one enemy, its like, what the heck?

Most games are the other way, like in first person shooters. If your walking from one place to another place far off, you find yourself jumping to relieve the monotony of simply walking.

Miyamoto''s strategy with his games is to make the game feel "right" with no enemies, and make the simple fact of controlling the character an element of the game. Then he tunes the enemies and levels etc to match that feeling that he created with the controls. I think this is a fairly good strategy, as controlling the character is the thing you do the MOST in a game - it should be the most perfected element.

I suppose it depends on the game though.

But this is definately an interesting topic for discussion!

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I agree with Miyamoto's strategy.

You want to apply what you are capable of with nothing around to face the challenges. So when nothing is around, how you maneuver needs to feel natural. It creates that extra level of suspension of disbelief when you are playing.

As much as possible, the main character has to feel like a fluent extension of you into the game.

It also goes along nicely with the "practice before you play" philosophy. That way, by the time you encounter someone, you're thinking to yourself, "Okay, let's try this stuff out..."

I imagine a game where you are driving a buggy of some sort, and there are jumps and trails, and you feel invited to try out your maneuvering before you arrive at a place where enemies await you, instead of just being tossed into the middle of the action.


[edited by - Waverider on April 18, 2003 6:07:11 PM]

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I do it backwards from there. I ask the question, "Where does my gameworld end?" and then figure out the world levels the player advances through via the enabling of mechanics.

So I set up the vast dimensions of the gameworld before the smaller ones, so I can find opportunities as I drill down detail to extend the mechanics as a feature skill, creating my interactivity matrix for my avatar as I go by counting the number of canyons, rivers, cities (whatever backdrop the gameworld has) and settings that make it look realistic as I go.

I know this is sort of an architecture down method of design, and that a great game is not just a great gameworld, but interaction with it through the avatar''s mechanics and avatar associated objects in the gameworld.

I suppose the more one designs the less organic and more mechanical it may become, but I don''t think the method loses lustre because of this. We are still creating juicy methods of blurring the lines between worlds, and that''s gotta be creative enough, right?

Now, I tend to be more of an epic designer, so I suspect a smaller game might be almost an insurmountable design issue for a designer like me; I''ve always thought big so I design big. Too late to change that now.

But since really big games are definitely the future of the biz, and that seeing teams as large as several hundred may (existing industry giants contemporary capabilities notwithstanding) simple be the industry norm after awhile.

To be an indie does not mean you cannot do a world class scale competitive product if that is your vision, and you''ve got the plan, design and contract. An indy may just become the prime contractor on a project for a largeco, and still be able to totally keep their thumbprint on design.

Once I have my gameworld fairly carved out, it''s easy to visualize subrepresentations in variety of that major motif. I feel like this is the level design''s task, and if I fix in my head just the gameworld and the mechanics, I seem to find levels that adapt to the use of the mechanic, perhaps in some way enhancing the interactive experience because you try to stay focused on the suggestions of these elements of setting and avater capabilities to effect the story through setting.

Each person''s approach is different, but if I get my gameworld overview done and up on the wall, I can look at that big picture and wonder about all the little things that go on in it, and come up with great challenges and other necessary devices.

I also think it is important to think along the lines of what Sid Meier said about thinking about I/O, gameworld and game program as three lines of dev. It marries well with the creative efforts.

Addy

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There is not a definite way of creating a game. Make parts as you want, unless there is a time constraint. If you dont feel like completing that part, work on another and come back to it.
Just make sure you dont forget what parts you have completed, and the ones you havent. Also, if the part ''feels right'' at a certain time, but you arent finished,leave it alone, and work on another part, til you know what needs to be changed, without changing the ''feeling''.

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