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clamchowder

games to learn from

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I think you can learn game design from all the games out there, especially the ones considered "very good" by most of the players. Play the game and try to figure out what mechanics have they used and how did they combine them.

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It depends on the type of game design you want to take inspiration. In my humble opinion using Alexandra Lederman 8 as a reference for a fighting game is quite a bad Idea. Even if it were the best game of the world (even if it is!) :)

I think narrowing your request to one type of game could help us give you a better answer. And also defining what is for you game design since, sometimes people don't have the same definition for it.

But, any game considered as good (by the players, the critics, etc) can be a good game design exemple.

Some classic ones : Mario Bros, starcraft 1 and 2, age of empire 2, world of warcraft, Rayman Legends, Black and White, and so on... 

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I've learned a lot from:

- Dune2: The Building of a Dynasty

- Raptor: Call of the Shadows

- Warcraft: Orcs and Humans

- SolarWinds: The Escape

- Karateka

- etc.

 

These games really help to learn because they contrast nowadays user-friendly interface with poor UI/UX from long ago, in games that were otherwise stellar. It makes you realize WHY we've come up with the modern standards, and how it helps us.

By discovering the reasons to some of the objectively better stuff we do now, it helps to keep me grounded with observable behaviors that I need to replicate.

 

Hope that helps.

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The most important thing (which seems to have been neglected in this thread thus far) is to play a broad variety of games, including the bad ones. It's all very well examining and the success stories, but if you only do this you'll only ever be emulating them. Sometimes it's better to pick up a turkey to find it had some interesting ideas, pick it apart and decipher why the game didn't work and learn from these mistakes.

 

Knowing why things don't work is often more valuable than knowing why things do work, and helps you understand the design process and better avoid certain pitfalls.

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Veteran designer Ernest Adams has collected a huge number of repeated mistakes from existing video-games in his "No Twinkie Database".  Well worth a read to learn some of the things you shouldn't do when creating your own games. smile.png

 

Don't forget that there's also a lot to learn from non-video games such as board games and card games!

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As a side discussion, I would also be careful not to take articles like the No Twinkie Database too literally and forcibly apply the lessons withing them - they are invaluable resources for sure, but the primary objective is to make sure you think about what you're doing rather than to give you laws to work by. Game design is a creative process rather than a strict technical one, and as such it is often acceptable to break the rules if it suits you or your product.

 

Sometimes sneakily breaking the rules allows you to subvert player expectations  - you just need to be sure why you're doing it and that you're not introducing something that's potentially frustrating or worse, game-breaking.

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Don't forget board games, card games, physical games (sports, tag, et cetera), and other non-electronic games.  They can be great material for studying game mechanics more directly compared to many video games.

 

Most of these will be multiplayer, but an examination of childhood toys can be revealing for more single player activities too.  For example, my past (and current) experiences with LEGO help to inform game design thoughts for sandbox city builder games.

 

Other people might have more personal experiences with action figures, remote controlled vehicles, model car/airplane kits, role play sets (e.g., kitchen), yo-yos, or any number of other toys.  All of these can be revealing if one contemplates how they played with these toys, what made them fun and engaging, or why they became boring, what type of activities were built around the toys to expand their basic element of fun, et cetera.

 

While toys are often playful activities that can stand alone without being part of a game, it is common that many good games have an intrinsically engaging toy at their core.  For video games especially, this toy is generally going to be conceptual, not physical, but it can nonetheless be understood as a toy, something that is fun to merely play with, even without specific rules and challenges.

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When it comes to learning game mechanics; old school arcades are quite good because they are so focused around a specific activity. Complex games can be hard to take apart.

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I actually learn more from playing bad games and learning what not to do.

 

Definitely play games in the same genre/theme as the game you are trying to make.

 

I like to play free games on kongregate.com - you get a lot of both the bad and the good there, and you can get a feel for what works and what doesn't.

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