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Game Design. EST310/ISE340 Fall 2011 Tony Scarlatos. What makes a good game?. “Games should be easy to learn and hard to master.” - Nolan Bushnell, Atari. Computer Space. Pong. What makes a good game?. People want to play right away.

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game design

Game Design


Fall 2011

Tony Scarlatos

what makes a good game
What makes a good game?

“Games should be easy to learn and hard to master.”

- Nolan Bushnell, Atari

Computer Space


what makes a good game1
What makes a good game?
  • People want to play right away.
  • Games should be easy to learn. Start playing in a few minutes! People hate to wait.
  • Keep all players involved, even when it is not their turn.
  • People love a challenge.
  • Games should have variety – should be different every time you play.
  • People want to win. Combine luck and skill so every player has a chance to win.
  • People learn from playing games - so make learning fun.
  • Aesthetics - eye catching design.
  • Interesting content - story, dialog.
player centric design methodology
Player-centric design methodology
  • Your player is not you
  • Beyond mere demographics – age, sex, race, education, income level, etc.
  • Players have different likes and dislikes even within their demographic (ex. Core vs. Casual gamers)
  • Various research methods (such as focus groups) can be employed to get data about your target audience
  • Play testing is an important part of the game development process
  • “What does the player want to do?”
classic game genres
Classic Game Genres
  • Action
    • shooter and fighting games, such as Doom (often a First Person Shooter - FPS)
  • Strategy
    • Risk, Warhammer (known as Real Time Strategy or Turn Based Strategy)
  • Role-Playing Games
    • known as RPG’s, can be single player like Final Fantasy, or multiplayer like World of Warcraft
  • Sims
    • simulations, typically sports games like Madden NFL, or racing games, like Midnight Club: Street Racing
  • Construction
    • building games like Sim City
  • Adventure
    • similar to action games except the gameplay focuses on puzzle solving and not combat, Myst is the common example
  • Puzzle
    • Tetris is the most commonly cited example
anatomy of a game
Anatomy of a game
  • User interface
  • Core mechanics
    • Precise rules of the game as symbolic & mathematical model
  • Interaction model (what the UI is showing)
  • Camera model (view of the gameworld)
  • Shell menus and screens
    • Load/Save, A/V settings
    • Title screens, credits, cut scenes
anatomy of a game1
Anatomy of a game


Interaction Model(Controls, Feedback)




Core Mechanics

Camera Model(World View)





design process
Design process
  • Concept
    • Define audience
    • Determine player’s role(s)
  • Elaboration
    • Primary gameplay mode
    • Design protagonist
    • Define gameworld
    • Design core mechanics and additional modes
    • Design levels
    • Write story and dialog
    • Build (UI, game assets, and programming)
  • Tuning
    • Test
platform considerations
Platform Considerations
  • Console
    • Playstation, Wii, Xbox
  • Computer
    • OS X, Windows
  • Networked or Stand-Alone
  • Browser-based
  • Handheld Game Systems
    • DS, PSP
  • Smartphone
    • Android or iOS
  • Cost of porting the game to a different platform
  • Royalty collected by the manufacturer (between $3 to $10 per unit for consoles)
    • Apple collects 30% of the price of an app sold on the App Store
  • Peripherals?
    • Joystick, dancepad, Kinect, microphone, custom controller (guitar in RockBand)