Guide to a Better Game Design
From YoYoGames Wiki
Game Design is the most important part of any game, no matter how good the graphics, sounds, and game play are – no game would ever be complete without having good Game Design. And, in this guide, we will show you some good ways to have good game design and therefore a good game in general.
Love the Game!
If you just want to make a game for the sake of it then stop right now! In order to make a good game, you need inspiration, you need to want to make the game, love the game idea, and love the game itself – enjoying playing this game! And not only do you need to enjoy playing it, but more importantly: enjoy developing it. The importance of enjoying the development of the game lies with the fact that if you don’t enjoy the development itself, you wouldn’t be able to make and program what you have planned! It’s plain and simple, when you hate making the game, you won’t pay attention to all the details you have planned in the first place, resulting in you having a different outcome that what you have expected, or wanted, and usually, this outcome is worse – so beware!
Have a Plan!programming phase, have a clear idea of what the game’s going to be about. Though it is always a good idea to have a written plan, it is not a requirement; just have a plan, at least in your head!
Also, let’s get one thing straight! When I say “plan” I just don’t mean this simple, general idea, revolving round what would the game be about! What I mean by plan is a very detailed idea (or group of ideas!) about the game and its levels, objectives, missions, and basically – everything!
Also, a very important part of the plan is making sure you decide about the basic game play features, like: should it be three-dimensional or two-dimensional, its genre: platform, RTS, turn based, etc, and also basic non-game features, like: how should the main menu be like, etc.
After you have that all sorted out, then you are officially ready to start working on a good game that many people will (hopefully) like.
Change is Fine!
While programming, it is almost certain that you will find some aspects of your plan to be wrong, or maybe just improvements that you think of at that moment that would require a change in your plan, and that is completely fine and, in most cases, beneficial.
It is beneficial because when you plan this sort of things, there might be many things that you haven’t thought of or considered, and, when you really try to make it work, you would find that some of your ideas are irrelevant, or simply just wouldn’t fit. Whenever you think of change, or a new idea, don’t be afraid, even if you ended up changing most of the game, but always keep in mind the rest of your game-plan and how is it going to be affected by this change.
Create an “Atmosphere”
This section includes elements outside the “Game Design” field, however, I thought they were really important to any game, and decided to put it with this article too:
You must create a certain tone or atmosphere for the game. If you want to make a scary game then make the colors dark, the graphics scary, the music slow with a low pitch, and most importantly: background effects and small details. Nothing works better to create the atmosphere you want than those small details and background effects.
Like, in our example, the “small details” would be dead bodies, dead trees, and blood, and, the “background effects” I was talking about could be divided into two parts: Visual Background Effects and Sound Background Effects.
Visual Background Effects could be ghosts flying around that wouldn’t affect the game play itself, some people being killed in the background, blood being spilled down, occasional explosions, etc. The possibilities are endless! And making them isn’t so hard, they just take lots of your time, which is the reason most people neglect them – and that is why you must “Love the Game!” as described in the first part.
Sound Background Effects are extremely important in creating an atmosphere for the game. However, for some weird reason, people always seem to think that graphics and visual effects are more important than sound effects – that is completely wrong! Sound Background Effects could be occasional screams of a young girl, someone saying “Help Me” every particular amount of time, strange sounds of ghosts saying “woooooooooo!” and more!
Another important Sound Item that must exist is the music, which I only briefly mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, but I left it for later to be described in detail. The sound of music must be somewhat low to allow the player to easily notice the “Sound Background Effects”. Also, listening to the music itself with your eyes closed must alone create the atmosphere you want in your head.
Also, you should either have a very long piece of music or just a group (4 or more) of music files who each give a different feeling, but still pointing out to the same atmosphere. This should be done so that the player wouldn’t get bored of the music, and instead let them enjoy it. Also, it would be better to leave a gap of 1 or 2 seconds between each song and another, so that things would feel better.
Variety is always good!enemies, bosses, attacks, techniques, etc. For example, always teach your player new techniques, for example, after the first level in a platform game, you might want to consider teaching the player the “double jump”, or maybe in an advanced level, make the player use guns, or even have the ability to fly! With imagination you can do everything!
Not only that, but also, if your game consists of missions or levels, make sure each mission is drastically different than the one before. It is okay to have two similar missions, just make sure they’re not in a row!
DifficultyLosing Factors” are the probably most important factors to create “addictive games”, as they are called.
Create Losing Factors!
Games where you never lose are not so good, because the actually fear of losing a game is what drives you to continue playing and may eventually hook you up to this game, or make you sort of “addicted” to the game. One of the simplest losing factors is time limits: you must reach a certain goal within a certain time period, or else, you will lose! Other than that, you can introduce more advanced factors, like traps, mind mazes and mysteries, and enemies. Also, as it has been pointed out in the previous section “Variety is always good!” it would be better if you make different (or additional ones to those who always exist) losing factors for each level or mission.
The first time you run the game shouldn’t be like the next time, and the second time shouldn’t be like the third! It’s plain and simple: make some of the game elements “unexpected” to the player, this feeling of not knowing what exactly is going to happen next is really beneficial to the game.
However, you must be careful, because only the small details are what are supposed to be random, not big details! For example, you shouldn’t change the arrangement of levels, look of the main player, objective for each level, and so on.
As discussed in the previous section, the feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen next is really beneficial to the game. And in order to make the game better, you obviously should try to elaborate this feeling.
Other than random small details, there must be interaction with the player, for example, if you start the game once, and walk a little bit to the left, the enemy you’re facing should react in a different way than if you walk a little bit to the right. This is done by making the enemies or anything in the game, intelligent by using various techniques of AI (Artificial Intelligence) which won’t be discussed in detail; just remember to use lots of IF Conditions to make your objects “interact” with the player as much as possible.
So that’s it! Hope you enjoyed it!