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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.

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  1. Many students and parents believe that if they are interested in a career in gaming, then the best thing for them to pursue is a degree in "Game Design", "Game Programming", or "Game Art and Animation". There is no shortage of schools nowadays offering these programs, and you see advertisements everywhere online. It seems to make sense, right? If you want to do games, then why not go ahead and have the word "game" in your major? It seems like you'd be a shoe-in for any job opportunity. While a few of these programs can lead to a successful career in gaming, in my career advising with parents and students I actually recommend against them, at least at first. Why would I not recommend seeking game degrees? There are a few reasons. First is the flexibility. If you are interested in programming and think you'd like to work in the games industry, then that's great. Engineers are in high demand and you will likely find it easy to land yourself a fun, high paying job. However, my first suggestion is always to try and get into a top-tier computer science program and major more generally in "computer science", not "game programming". With a computer science degree you have an enormous amount of flexibility with your career. Computer science majors can get you not only into any game company, but almost any technology company as well. Not only EA, Activision, and Zynga will be recruiting you, but also Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, IBM, and a slew of others. The key here is that you never know what the future may hold. If, for instance, you begin your career in gaming and then develop different interests, then you have the option of moving somewhere else in technology. But if you majored in "game programming", then you are locked in against your will, there isn't much you can do. So as a career advisor I can't recommend degrees that specialize in games as a first choice. The second reason is the level of depth and expertise. You would think that majors that are focused on games would be in higher demand within the games industry than more general majors, but this actually isn't true. If you look at the new hires at the top game companies, then they typically have majors in Computer Science, Art and Animation, or Business/Finance, without the word "game" attached to any of them. One of the reasons for this is that the games industry is so dynamic, the rules change every year as we move from platform to platform, opening up new audiences and players. Thus, if you are taught specifically how to use Adobe Flash and Unity in school, then you may not be as much help when the next thing comes along. But if you know how to do art of all kinds or coding of all kinds, then you will be useful for decades to come. Finally, students with game-specific majors, even if they are hired at top companies, often end up in "Associate" positions to start their career in gaming, instead of a higher paid position right off the bat. This is because of the reason above, the skills learned in a game degree are narrow, and so companies need to see these new hires prove themselves before moving them into a more general role that may require skills outside of what they learned. But a computer science or art and animation degree doesn't have these problems. An Option, But Not the First As I've said, these are all my first recommendations. However if other top tier schools in art or computer science are not an option for you, then a strong game degree can help you start your career in gaming and make your start. But it's important to realize the ways in which it may be affecting your future. Best of luck! This blog post is reprinted from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents interested in careers in games. Article Update Log No updates so far. Photo credit: Lou FCD
  2. If you're interested in any field, especially game development, then it's important to get your foot in the door early in order to learn how things work and to get yourself some real experience on your resume. It's a good idea your sophomore or junior year to try your best to find a game internship for the summer so you can be moving ahead and preparing for your career after college. There are hundreds of game companies out there, but only the largest of them have online job websites where they list open positions. Many of them may just have a website with no job information at all, or a general "we're hiring!" page. Some of the large companies like EA, Activision, or Zynga have job boards, but many companies don't have the time to put these together. Yet, there are lots of students who find positions at small game companies who earn themselves a decent wage and some notches in their belts that can then help to propel them to better job opportunities later on. So how do you find these hidden game internships? Where do you go? What do game companies with internships want? There are a few simple concepts to understand in order to answer this question: you need to understand how game companies think. First, game companies are trying to be successful, which means they are trying to make money by building and selling popular game titles. So that's what they want to do. Anyone who can help them do that will immediately be of value to them. Second, game companies, like any other business, operate on relationships. If they need someone to get a job done, be it mobile game programming or web server development, then they first think of who they know who can get the job done. Can they think of anyone that comes to mind? If so, they contact those people and see if they are interested. If not, they use other tools like job boards or advertising to find people they don't yet know. Understanding these two concepts and getting into the minds of game companies can help you find unlisted game internships. By understanding that companies want people who can help them build their products, you can learn and tailor your skills and resume to the products they want to build. Do you dream of working for a company that does XBox development? Then work on a lot of Xbox games and make sure you have a solid understanding of XNA, then when the opportunity comes, you'll be able to say, "I'm the guy for the job." Do you want to work in mobile development, making games for iPhone or Android devices? Then start working on them now! Get familiar with the languages associated with those devices, or making artwork for small screens or designing tiny UI interfaces. Pick the type of companies you want to work for and then go from there. By understanding that companies try to think of people they already know as a first step to hiring someone to do a job for them, you can be proactive in finding and building relationships with people in companies. When I work with parents and students for career advising, I always tell my students to pick out companies that they'd like to work for and then try to politely get in contact with someone at that company. You'd be surprised how easy it is to find email addresses or phone numbers if you do some digging. Once you find someone, then ask if they'd be willing to speak with you about what they do, saying that you are a student interested in careers in games. Most of the time they will be happy to, and then you'll have a phone conversation with them. This gives you a good opportunity to say, "Thank you so much for your time. I have experience doing X, if there is ever anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to contact me." You can then send them your resume with your contact information, which can lead to game internships and other opportunities. Have the Skills, Make the Connection This is how I got my first game internship in the industry. While I was in college I heard that there was someone who graduated from my program who was working at a particular game company. I searched online and got their email address, and then I emailed them and asked if I could chat with them for a few minutes on the phone to learn more about what being an engineer in games was like. They agreed, and after a discussion they recommended that I send my resume to their hiring manager, and a few months later I ended up with an internship that hadn't been listed on any website. They saw that I could help them and they thought of me, and the rest flowed from there. Developing skills that companies need and then building relationships ahead of when the job is posted is a great way to sow seeds that can grow into game internship opportunities. Best of luck! Article Update Log No updates so far. This article is a reproduction from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents where you can browse more articles on finding game internships. Photo Credit: joeduty
  3. Thanks for the feedback everyone.   Servant, great point - the most common concepts in the digital world almost always have real world equivalents!   Matias, yes, these apply in non-game UI's too. Or even non-digital designs. "Design of Everyday Things" is a great book that talks about how to design showers, stoves, etc   mippy, good idea! I'll consider doing something up on Gestalt laws.
  4. There are proven psychological principles to user interfaces that work. Whether you have a team of design experts or are just building with programmer art, you can use these principles to make your game easy to understand and a joy to pick up. When you're putting together the user interface design for your game, whether it's a heads-up display (HUD), a level select menu, an in-game map, or a life meter, you want it to all work. Perfect UI design is invisible, that is, the user isn't really grappling with how the UI works - the UI disappears and the player focuses on what they want to do in the game. My favorite analogy to this is driving a car. When you're first learning how to drive, you need to be taught what the steering wheel does, how the accelerator and brakes work, and the gear shifts. But once you learn these things, then they all disappear. "Turn the steering wheel right" turns into "I want to make the car go over there". A good UI tries to get the player to this second stage as quickly as possible. Over at my site The Game Prodigy, we try to stress getting to this point immediately so that players can really get into your game. To do this there are a handful of psychological principles you can use - scaffolding concepts, functional and color consistency, and the rule of 7. Let's get started! Scaffolding Concepts When you're laying out your game's UI, what you are really laying out is a map of concepts. The quickest way to explain a concept to someone is by making an analogy between the new concept and something they already understand. In teaching and education this is called "scaffolding" - by propping up new ideas with old ones, the new ideas are easier to comprehend. Life bars are used almost universally in games, and they build on the common concept that people understand from progress bars or gas gauges. If the bars are full then you have much more to go. If the bars are low then you're almost out. You can see how this analogy is used in Kenji Inafune's recent kickstarter project, Mighty No. 9: The best is when you can scaffold with an object commonly understood in real life. One note is that all players are different in terms of their knowledge. If your game is for casual players or typical "non-gamers" then you may have to try and pull concepts from real life to use as your analogies. If your players are gamers and familiar with many game conventions, then it will be easier to borrow from other games and expect them to know how certain elements already work. Some other concepts that are useful to use are light switches, dials (like on a stove), on/off switches, elevator buttons, escape buttons, or clocks/alarms. The more common the real world object, the better. Application: When developing your UI, ask yourself these questions: Are there any UI concepts or analogies here that will be totally unfamiliar to players? Can these new concepts be scaffolded with old concepts to make them easier to understand? Strive for Consistency in Actions and Colors When you introduce a UI concept to players, then you want to make sure you are as consistent as possible across the game. In accordance with the scaffolding concept we just discussed, consistency helps players understand what's familiar. The worst experience is teaching the player how something works, and then in another area of the game, it doesn't work as you've taught them. A great example of this done well is in the recent indie hit Papers, Please. The game asks the player to deal with a variety of items in deciding who they should let through the immigration border control. These include passports, permits, photographs, and more. Each of these is interacted with using the mouse to drag items around on your desk, since that's a sensible way to handle papers. However, the game also has lots of dialogue between the characters. Dialogue is typically done in a floating box on top of the screen, with up and down used to select menus (think Final Fantasy or Mass Effect dialogue menus). But that interaction style wouldn't fit with how the player is interacting with the rest of the game. So to keep the UI consistent, Papers, Please also makes the dialog an object on the desk via a printed transcript. This doesn't require the player pull up some new menu or learn a new way of interacting with the world - it's the same as all the rest of the objects. This helps the game feel consistent and the player immediately understands how to interact with it. Colors can also be a great way to drive consistency and is one of the big concepts we teach back at The Game Prodigy. Different colors have meanings associated with them in culture, and keeping these colors consistent in a game makes it more intuitive. Red in Western culture typically means stop (from traffic lights), warning, or bad. You can see this in the typical "Damage Taken" red shade that appears on map UI in Grand Theft Auto V... ..and also associated with UI around enemies in Nimble Quest. The red skulls represent how many "bad guys" are remaining, which again is associated using red: These colors make it possible make quick sense of what's going on in the game world. Application: When designing your UI elements, try to have consistency between them. Don't switch from one interaction type to another, especially if it's different throughout the game Make use of color to subtlely point out similarities between game elements to your players Digit Span and Chunking Let's do an exercise. Memorize these numbers, and then close your eyes and try to recite them from memory: 4930661 If you're just trying to skip ahead, don't do it. Actually try to memorize them, it will help with the illustration. Have you done it? Great! Now try these numbers: 5982385741 How did you do? According to research, the first set should have been simple, but the second much more difficult. Why? Studies have shown that people can only hold about 7 unique numbers in their head at a time, give or take two. This is called "digit span" and is the reason that phone numbers are 7 numbers (without country or area code). This concept can be used in a more abstract sense as well. If there are 7 ideas presenting themselves to a player at the same time, that's reaching the limits of what most players can handle. Beyond that it becomes jumbled and confusing. However ideas can be pulled together to form one higher level idea. This is called "chunking" and appears frequently in psychology literature around memory. For example, try and memorize these numbers 199020012013 This is much easier to memorize if you chunk them into years: 1990, 2001, 2013. Simple, right? Let's look at this example of digit span and chunking in games from Dark Souls: There are a lot of things going on here, 9 total UI elements on the HUD: Health Bar Stamina Bar Level Up Item Down Item Right Equipment Left Equipment Currency Interaction Dialog However, four of them, the weapons and items, are chunked together so that the player can think of them as a single concept that maps to the D-pad. This brings the total number down to 6 total elements: combining all the Up/Down/Left/Right into one item: "Items". By using this chunking and mapping those 4 elements together through both how they interact on the controller as well as how they look on the screen, the Dark Souls UI comes across to players as just simple enough. Let's look at another example from Terraria: Using chunking, this UI is made up of only 3 main elements: Life bar Mana bar Items bar (chunked together) This visual design makes the game trivial to pick up and understand immediately what's going on. Application: How many unique UI elements does the player have to pay attention to at once? If it's more than 7, consider reducing them or chunking common ideas together Make sure that chunked ideas are interacted with in a similar manner Summary When you're designing the UI for your game, try and draw analogies to knowledge and concepts your audience will already understand (even if you are making something new you can still pull parts from common ideas). Keep your interaction styles and colors consistent in order to allow players to navigate through without being surprised. Limit the number of ideas or concepts you are showing at once to no more than 7 to keep from becoming too jumbled. All of these are rules and there are exceptions of course. But adhering to them will help to make your game more quickly understandable. With some smart psychological principles, good UI can help your players get through the menus and into the game world you've created. Good luck! For more information on how to build and design games and a game career, visit The Game Prodigy for a free 29-page eBook. Article Update Log 10/23/2013 - Added another Papers, Please screenshot to make point clearer
  5. [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"]In this game design article we cover the amazing design choices in Uncharted 2 [/font][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"]that allowed for non-stop action [/font][/font][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"]and how they can be implemented in your own games. From picking the right moments to make playable and the right moments to make an IGC, Uncharted in a cut above the rest in delivering the perfect experience.[/font] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"] [/font]This post originally came from game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more articles on practical and applicable game design. It's been a while since 2009?s most critically acclaimed game title: Uncharted 2 for the PS3 was released. And so while this analysis may be a little dated in terms of the game title, my hope is that the design analysis is timeless for a game that I believe has set the standard of gameplay for the next few years. Personally as a player, this isn't exactly my kind of game; I'm not a huge shooter fan and, like Avatar, the story and premise seemed a bit simple. However, as a game designer, I can't excuse myself from a game so highly regarded among players and developers alike. Even if it didn't interest me in the name of my own entertainment, it certainly interested me in the name of my design education. After sinking a good number of hours into it, I can definitely say that it is worth the ride. The game has a captivating story and interesting characters, but that's not why it's a great game. It is a great game because of the only thing that can make a great game: great gameplay. Let's step through two of the best points of this game's design and execution. Don't Tell Me About It; Let me Do It Let's start with Uncharted 2?s biggest design achievement: you get to play everything you want to play. You do everything you want to do. Action? You do it. Talking? It's just a cutscene. This may seem obvious, but it's more difficult than it sounds. One of the easiest way to ruin a story is to try and haphazardly shove gameplay inside of it. The problem goes that if you have an interesting story, compelling characters, plot twists and allegory, that's all fine and good. But what you have are the ingredients for a movie or a book, not necessarily a game. It isn't a game until the player interacts with the story in some way. And even if the story is strong, poor gameplay will make it unbearable. Developers beware focusing on the story in your game to the detriment of gameplay. In games, gameplay is king. Always. When you're making a game and need to have the player interact with the story in some way, then it makes sense to have them focus on the parts of the story they would enjoy. In a film, this means that you want to see the couple fall in love, fight, break up, and get back together. You don't need to see them use the restroom, get dressed, eat lunch, or turn up the air conditioning. If designers don't pull this off correctly, the result is that the gameplay feels completely divorced from the story; the two have nothing to do with one another. Uncharted 2 did a fantastic job of this, which we will get to explaining in a moment. But before we get into how this is done right, let's first take a look at a game that did it wrong. Back in 2005 a game was released for the Playstation 2 called Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit outside of the U.S.), the less-famous precursor to David Cage's more successful Heavy Rain. It was a critically acclaimed mystery thriller where you played as a man who just came two after a murder. The game follows the footsteps of the murder, as well as the detectives who are trying to track him down. The production values were high: good voice acting, good visuals for the time, and the story itself was spot on. However, Indigo Prophecy doesn't make a very good game. It sold fairly well, but that's not the point here. Out of all of the gleaming reviews, only one reviewer got it right. All the way at the bottom of its Metacritic, one reviewer gave the game a 33/100 amid 90?s. I would argue that that reviewer was actually the most perceptive of the bunch. The problem? The gameplay had nothing to do with what players cared about. What players cared about was the mystery, the moral choices the characters were making, the fight scenes and romance scenes. But what was the gameplay? None of that. The Indigo Prophecy designers realized that they didn't have any Base Mechanics to support these aspects of the story. So instead they force the player to perform mundane tasks. Want to speak to the police chief to learn about the killer? Well, first you need to walk upstairs and get the file. Want to woo your ex-girlfriend? First you need to get her belongings and put them by the door. The actual action was always a cutscene; the result makes the player feel like they're being robbed. Heavy Rain made great strides to fix these problems, but as the studio continues to learn and run to the top of the game design mountain, they'll find that the Naughty Dog team had been standing there all along. Build the Gameplay Where the Player Cares Uncharted 2 does right what Indigo Prophecy and many parts of Heavy Rain (preparing diapers and putting on ties, anyone?) did wrong. Naughty Dog understood what players would think was exciting: the running, the jumping, the shooting, and the combat. They then built the Base Mechanics to support that. The controls were exquisite: you feel like you can do almost anything. Scale walls, find ways to climb up and down unreachable heights, sneak past guards, or take them out. You can actually get in the groove of the action and know that it is you who is deciding how to approach tactical challenges. These are action experiences that Hollywood movies dream of but could never implement. The result? Whenever anything exciting was about to happen in Indigo Prophecy, I would put the controller down. Whenever anything exciting was about to happen in Uncharted 2, I would pick the controller up. What a change in Core Experience! The trick is to focus on what the player will want to do in your game (Note: no guessing allowed. You must know your player well). If your game is about solving mysteries and tracking down a criminal, then make the gameplay actually solving mysteries, figuring out what to do next, and making choices based on evidence that affect the story. If the most exciting part of your story is about gunfights and chases, then build the Base Mechanics around shooting and running. And no, not having action isn't an excuse for not having exciting gameplay. You can make a conversation or researching a book exciting with the right design; it just takes vision of what you want to give your player. Always Keep the Game Flowing As we've mentioned, Uncharted 2?s Core Experience is feeling like you're in an action story, and another way the game pulls this off is by keeping the game moving. Playing the game gives the experience that you are actual in a classic Indiana Jones flick. But remember, this is a game, not a movie, and in a movie, the good guys always win. So how did Naughty Dog decide to handle the player losing without sacrificing gameplay or making the story stall out? Neither of these two techniques are unique to Uncharted, but they were executed together particularly well. First is the Hint System. When the player gets stuck, then after a period of time a hint button appears. The player can press this hint button and hear another character speak about and point to what they're supposed to do. And the game keeps on rolling without the player feeling like a fool. Perfect. Does this feature support the story, or the gameplay? Well it is certainly woven into the story, usually via an interesting comment from one of your pals. However that's not why it's significant. It's significant because it gets the job done from a mechanical standpoint. You could have a hint that triggers a funny joke by a character, but obviously if it doesn't help the player learn what to do, it's worthless. Gameplay first. Next, Uncharted 2 doesn't rely on ancient (read: 1980?s) conceptions of challenging to make sure the player doesn't waltz through the game's more trecherous challenges. In many classic games, challenge is conveyed by sending the player way back to try again. Get shot? Game over. Go back to the beginning of the level and do it again. While this kind of Punishment and Reward System does have the effect of increasing the tension in battle, the negative repercussions of losing are often too frustrating to be worth it. It's a difficult problem: how can you get players to perform difficult tasks without making the punishment for failing unbearable? Uncharted eschews those old coin-op design choices and instead opt's for a good balance in their punishments. Whenever you encounter an action sequence or a gunfire scene, then the game saves a checkpoint. If you fail at the challenge, then the game just sends you back a few moments to the beginning of that scene. This reduces frustration because you're only set back to the point right before you were killed. Additionally, it forces the player to actually perform the task again, hopefully successfully. Even when Drake was killed multiple times at my hands, I wasn't discouraged, because the punishment was so light. Pulling the player back any further would almost certainly have broken the flow of the game and yanked me out of the action; keeping it tight pulled me in. Both of these features keep the gameplay flowing at the pace you would expect to feel if it were a major motion picture -- with (of course) the added experience of you actually playing through the action scenes. Now that's a win-win. An Action Movie Come-To-Life Uncharted 2 pulled off some incredible stunts, and was an fantastic example of a game choosing to be universal instead of original and avant-garde. Well executed, well understood design decisions propelled this title to the top of the award charts for 2009. Developers everywhere, indie, student, and pro, should be required to check it out. This post originally came from game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more articles on practical and applicable game design. [/font]
  6. [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"]This post originally came from game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more articles on practical and killer game design. Many of you have your own games that you are working on. Be they student projects, indie experiments, or just a hobby, everyone wants their game to be successful. But what does it mean to be successful? Is a game a success if it's profitable but completely stale? How about if it's innovative but makes no money? Well, that's depends on the developer and their goals. Many developers just start building something, and then after a while they achieve some sort of result. Maybe they sell their game online. Maybe they end up in a game competition. Or maybe they don't finish the game at all, they just go on to start a new project. They don't have clearly defined goals for success. The ones who are successful are the ones who are smart by setting their own personal goals for their games. In order to tackle a game project in an intelligent way, developers need to be concrete about their goals and what they are trying to achieve. Many different studies have shown that goal setting across all fields and disciplines is beneficial in getting results. But in game development it is particularly useful because the goals for different developers can have such a wide range of dreams. Two Developers, Two Goals, Two Successes Let's look at two very different developers with very different goals in their games. On one hand is Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, and on the other is indie developer Jonathan Blow. Pincus' strong primary goal for each of this games is to make money and be profitable, and this has influenced how the games have been made, their quality and design, their release schedule, their similarity to other games, and everything else about them. Games from Zynga can be beautiful, innovative, or new and fresh, but if they weren't making massive amount of money, they were failures and were pulled and cancelled. Thus, in order to achieve profitability, many of Zynga's games were in fact modeled after competitor's games, but still achieved profitability, the primary goal. Blow's game development goals are quite different. Blow's strong primary goals are far from money, as he has said in a blog post. As one of the organizers of the experimental gameplay project, the primary goal of his games was to try new concepts that hadn't been tried in gaming, to push the boundaries, and to make games that are considered works of art. Money is not a concern for him. An important point here: I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with either of these goals. Both developers decided what they wanted to do with their games and focused solely on that, and as a result both of them have been wildly successful. Other goals may have been achieved (Braid making a fair amount of money, or Frontierville showing some forms of innovation), but to their creators, those secondary goals were not even really necessary. What mattered was that they achieved their primary goals for their games. The Many Goals of Game Development As you can see, defining the goals for your game help a great deal in determining its future and the choices you will make as you are in production. And by defining your goals, you define if your game was a success or a failure. So in order to be smart about how we as developers go about making our games, we need to pick out our goals, think about them, and then be sure of them. Let's run through some of the common goals that a game can have. Selecting which of these apply (and just as importantly, which ones don'tapply) will do wonders for your project. The Goal of Having Fun. Many young students start working on a game just as a hobby. They do it to have fun, to learn about making games, and generally have a good time. This goal will drive decisions such as implementing what seems to be the most fun to implement, while avoiding making parts of the game that are hard or boring to make.The Goal of Innovation and Art. Many indie developers set the goal of pushing the envelope, of doing something that games have never done before. This goal will drive decisions such as trying out a new idea wherever possible, requiring theme or allegory be added to the game, and striving to be original and new.The Goal of Fame. Some games are made simply to become famous or known within some crowd. Some games are made that appeal to the GDC indie crowd, while other games are made to appeal to the mass media and get someone's name out there. Games with this goal will want to have attention grabbing themes or ideas and attach the developer's name all over.The Goal of Learning. Making a game can be very educational too. If a student wants to learn 3D programming, then one great way to learn is to make a 3D game. This goal will drive the developer to tackle hard problems, especially those that have not been attempted before, in order to learn and bolster one's skills.The Goal of Profit. Games are a billion dollar industry, and all large companies have the goal of making money from their games. But indie and student developers can set a goal of making money off of their games if they want as well, perhaps hoping to one day start their own company or support themselves through their games. This goal will drive design decisions around what would make the most money.The Goal of Career Development. Many students will want to make games for career development, to be able to say on their resume, "I made this game". This goal will drive decisions such as foregoing a cool feature in order to get it finished completely, or working late into the night long after it's gotten frustrating. Do Your Game a Favor and Define Your Goals All of these goals are valid, all of them are available to you, and all of them will cause different decisions to occur during the process of development, resulting in different looking games. Carefully selecting which goals you have for your project can greatly increase the chances of success, because you'll know exactly what success means for you. You'll be more motivated to work on your game because you'll have a practical idea of what you are trying to accomplish. And perhaps more importantly, you'll know which goals you are not trying to achieve, so you can be free to make the design and development decisions that you want. So go ahead and answer that age old question: innovation or profitability? Is one more important? Or are both important and there must be a balance? Decide for yourself and go after it! This post originally came from game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more articles on practical and killer game design. 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  7. What resources did you use online to do the tutoring? Over Skype I assume? I'm publishing a book to be released next month for students who are interested in entering the game industry, but I didn't mention online tutors as a resource. How would students find out about you? Is there a central tutoring site? Thanks for the tips, very helpful.
  8. Backstory is always great. How are you planning on integrating it into the game? Narration or text? Or just on the game's website somewhere?
  9. Wow, this game looks very...interesting from the screenshots. [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif[/img] What is your timeline? Is this a professional for-profit project or an indie side project? Best of luck!
  10. Love the changes so far! The old design was really starting to get to me. On to the future! [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]
  11. [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"]This post originally ran on game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more resources on practical and killer game design. As a game developer, which of these sounds more desirable to you? A really fun 5 minute game that took ten hours to makeA really fun 5 minute game that took one hour to makeAssuming that they are equally enjoyable to the same group of people, most of us would go with the one hour version. Sure, in nine more hours there is a lot that can be done. You can add more artwork, add social aspects, add multiplayer or extra modes. But if we are just focusing on fun, which I believe tends to max out on a relatively small scale, then time of of the essence, and if you only have an hour or so, you want to put it in the right place. As game developers, our time is very valuable. Momiga is a great little Flash game that has been making the rounds online. Standing for "Most Minimalist Game", Momiga features only one graphic (a small white dot), one button, and one sound effect. Truly, it is about as minimalist as you can get. Each "level" consists of moving a dot to the other side of the screen by pressing the space bar in a variety of ways. Each method is different: sometimes it slides across, other times it floats or bounces. The trick is to understand what's going on and get it to the right. I love to analyze games like this, because they provide such clear examples of simple but profound concepts in game development. Momiga is perfect example of being lean and economical. Student and indie developers often don't give much thought to the concept of "bang for their buck". That is, how much "game" they are going to get for the amount of effort that they put in. This can lead to effort being put in the wrong areas, which leads to wasted energy and exhaustion, which can lead to promising titles that are never finished. Get the Most "Game" I don't actually know how long Momiga took to complete, but for an experienced Flash developer, it looks like it would take no more than a few hours to go from start to finish. And yet it has provided several minutes of enjoyment for tens of thousands of players. To do this, the developer had to decide what he was going to focus on and what he wasn't going to focus on. Clearly, with the title, he decided from the beginning that he was not going to focus on good graphics, sounds, backgrounds, or anything like that. He was also not going to focus on complex controls, UI, or menus, constrained by the rule to use only one button. Thus, whether on purpose or not, the developer forced himself to focus on making what little he had fun. Since there are no graphics or colors to make the different levels feel different, the only way to make them interesting was to force the player to do something different at each turn. "I had to bounce across at the last one, and this one looks like some sort of jetpack...oh ok....I get it it now...". That process is inherently enjoyable, because the player is being presented with new ideas at each turn. In a previous video on The Game Prodigy (From Seconds to Hours of Gameplay), we discussed ways that players can extend the life of their game time-wise, without watering down the fun and enjoyability. Some of the one of the ways you can do this is to build layers on top of your original Base Mechanic. Momiga takes a different approach. Instead of building up, per say, and making the single button clicking compound into points or higher levels of the same activity, the actual Base Mechanic changes each time. What the button press actually does is new and interesting. To see how impactful this different focus of effort can be, contrast Momiga with another of the developer's titles, Nano Ninja, a game which had much higher production values. Nano Ninja's gameplay is essentially identical to Momiga - single mouse clicks do different actions across different stages, and the player needs to find out how to press the button in the right way to complete the small stage. Yet it is clear that Nano Ninja took much longer than one sitting to complete. All the graphics, animations, music, and sounds took time to create. In the end, it boils down to a very similar amount of "game", that is, about five minutes of fun. But in terms of the amount of "game" that the developer got for how much effort he put in, the ratio is much lower. One hour for five minutes of fun, or ten hours for five minutes of fun? Put Your Game Where Your Mouth Is By being aware of what is and isn't important for your game, you can make sure you are making the best use of your time. Now this isn't universal - every game developer needs to decide for themselves how much time to put into what aspects of their game. Some types of games will flop and completely fail with their target players if great time isn't invested into the Aesthetic Layout (AAA titles like Super Mario Galaxy come to mind). The point is that your time as a developer is valuable -- make sure you're spending it where it will count the most. This post originally ran on game design site TheGameProdigy.com. Visit for more resources on practical and killer game design. [/font]
  12. Hi everyone! This is Brice and I just wanted to let everyone know that I've posted another Game Design tutorial. The last one seemed to get a good response here so I thought some people would knowing the next one was up. This one is about how to think about layering story on top of your game. By following a couple of principles, you can pull the player into your game by creating meaningful characters and plot. I lay out a systematic way to do this in the video. You can find it on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVu-fluuRrM As always, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions! --Brice