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Most important principles of game design?

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Huh?

The actual problem you have, the X of the X Y problem, is: "What do your students need to learn to be able to design a game?"

You however are asking Y: "What can you, with the least time spent on research or teaching, teach that has something to do with game design?"

Being in a hurry is very detrimental to all of teaching, learning, and especially designing.

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There is a lot and I don't want to waste time with things that won't carry over into digital.

I would think game design as a discipline is by definition agnostic to the medium. True, some concepts can be better expressed as table top games, or computer games, but the overall question of what makes a good game, or how to design a game is not about medium, it's about human psychology and about engineering (iteratively improving, finding creative solutions to design problems). Edited by Alberth

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Some of the principles people have tossed in from a past thread are:

 

balance

psychology of fun

building/triggering emotions

level design

emergent game play (what is that anyway?)

building complexity

design modification (perhaps this is simply part of iteration)

 

Is there a core group of principles in this stuff?

 

balance - this speak to the concept of difficulty.  a game which is too easy or difficult is not fun.

 

level design is specific to level based games. and like interior design is largely a matter of opinion.

 

emergent play is when basic rules of the game combine to produce complex,  unanticipated, beneficial results. 

"attack equal or smaller within 50 feet" + "move to owner if far" makes my pet dire wolf chase small critters and birds just like real dog - and that was totally unplanned.

 

building emotional momentum really is only related to storylines in games.  not all games are storyline based.

 

 

 

 

 

 

possible core principles:

 

balance and perceived fair play. all games should have this.

 

fun - all games should be fun. note that one person's definition of fun differs from the next. what you consider fun, others may not, and vice versa.

 

pacing - one should not progress too slowly or quickly though the game.  a slow pace is boring. too fast a pace and you run out of content too quickly. you may also become too powerful too quickly, throwing off game balance, especially in later stages of the game.  

 

not a whole lot else comes to mind offhand. and i have 6 years experience as a table top D&D DM, and 27 years experience as a PC game developer.

 

Valrus' posting above sums up the situation pretty accurately.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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Given that I am going to spend just one unit on the basics of game design in the high school curriculum I am designing, what would you all say would be the most important game design fundamentals and/or principles to teach that would be most useful or necessary for students to use when they begin making video games in Game Maker?

 

 

Games should be 'fun'   (understanding also that a 'game' purpose MIGHT be a method of interactive demonstration for education)

 

Game interfaces should NOT be frustrating to interactw with (too many games Ive had to fight a poor interface more than the opponents)

 

Games should offer sufficient surprises (not be fully deterministic)  to the player - giving them a reason/incentive to replay.  Creativity in playing to solve unexpected situations...

Edited by wodinoneeye

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Huh?

The actual problem you have, the X of the X Y problem, is: "What do your students need to learn to be able to design a game?"

You however are asking Y: "What can you, with the least time spent on research or teaching, teach that has something to do with game design?"

Being in a hurry is very detrimental to all of teaching, learning, and especially designing.

 

That's not what's going on.

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There is a lot and I don't want to waste time with things that won't carry over into digital.

I would think game design as a discipline is by definition agnostic to the medium. True, some concepts can be better expressed as table top games, or computer games, but the overall question of what makes a good game, or how to design a game is not about medium, it's about human psychology and about engineering (iteratively improving, finding creative solutions to design problems).

 

Yes, but what I meant is that because they will be making games at a very basic level, there will be certain principles that I assume are too deep or complex to apply.

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To me, the word "principle" means a very basic notion, which I would expect to always apply. Otherwise you'd get a weird situation like "we have this computer program here, but the big-Oh complexity principle doesn't apply, because the program is too simple".

 

I would think the principle is always there, it may just be that it's trivial to fulfill such a principle, and as such, it's not worth discussing or considering. On the other hand, you are preparing these students for a future in games, where they will run into above principles. At least mentioning and explaining them would be useful imho.

 

Also, I think simple games in terms of implementation does not imply simple game design. I am noob in the game design field, but a game like 2048 is trivial to implement, yet fascinating complex in its design, it seems to me.

 

If making the games is a limitation in your view, perhaps you could drop gamemaker? Unless they are fluent in the program, it's something that eats time and distracts them from the subject. Game design can equally be explained with card games, dice games, or board games, but these may take much less effort to construct.

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>> Games should offer sufficient surprises (not be fully deterministic)  to the player - giving them a reason/incentive to replay.  Creativity in playing to solve unexpected situations...

 

replay-ability is nice but not necessary.   so it is a desirable design feature, but not a mandatory one (unfortunately).  i personally believe games games should be so non-deterministic that even the devs can't say what will happen next in the game at any given point.  but that's just my opinion as a gamer first and a gamedev second.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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the more i think about it, balance, pacing, and fun seem to be the only universal principles that come to mind.


Another one is scoping. Beginners' most common mistake is to continue adding features and/or to design
something too large and time-consuming.

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