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Game Design: Players, Characteristics, Models

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Ben Smith

on 23 April 2013

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Transcript of Game Design: Players, Characteristics, Models

Game Design What is Game Design? For now: Model of a Game We are designing a fun play experience! Why do people play? Who are we designing for? Mechanics:
The player's cognitive model of interactions.
What happens during play that affects the player. Actions, 2 forms: physical & virtual! Experience: emotions over time (aesthetics),
evoked during play. Theories of Emotions Symbol Object Interpretant Energetic
Logical Stimulus Reaction Emotion a word, an idea see the killer rabbit run away! feel fear. a rabbit "killer rabbit" Seimotics Biopsychological Warning: Do Not design universally (for everyone), rather, design for a specific audience, and specific individuals. Experience Challenge affords Mastery Flow Immersion Social Experience Create opportunities for competition, cooperation.
Allow players to display their skills, humor, individuality.
Provide tools for communication and sharing.
Create a connection between the player and meaningful others.
Support the ability for players to metagame.
Create opportunities to watch, teach–support pride in the child, mentee. Timing: Tempo and Rhythm Play Mechanics Core Mechanics Local Emergent Gameplay The Rocket-jump Fighting Inventories and Collections Progression Puzzles Length of Play Session Heuristics Rules of thumb that help in playing. "Grinding is the fastest path to higher levels" "Strategies" "Tech-builds win late game but are weak to an early rush" Anecdotal Tell the player if they're winning/losing and how to change that condition. Positional Heuristics Directional Heuristics Indicate the current win/lose state. "More territory control = ahead" "Their Twisted Fate is fed, we're going to lose." "I have 3 health packs in reserve, I will win the next fire fight." Indicate strategies to improve chances, given the current state. "We need to get the Baron buff and go all in!" "We need more flag-room defense, their druid is just waltzing right in." Designing for Heuristics Are the Heuristics Fun to play out?
Are the actions involved enjoyable? How many potentially viable Heuristics is ideal?
How much of the actual game play do they cover? How easy/hard are they to discover?
How clear-cut are they? Clear vs. Muddy Rich vs. Sparse Satisfying vs. Unsatisfying Powerful vs. Weak Do the Heuristics enable a successful player to dominate, or do they merely help a little, or not at all? Player Types Richard Bartle's Players World Interacting Acting Killers Socializers Achievers Explorers Good Heuristics? Exist at all levels, from beginner to advanced. Some easy to discover, some hard. Set of Heuristics should cover most play situations. Satisfying: empower the player to own their decisions and their victory, rather than merely follow a formula. No "I Win" buttons! #error: undefined symbol <game> Game a defined system of rules and objectives, involving one or more players, to enable a fun experience. Player Game Player Game Game Systems
Content Mechanics
Experience Actions
Interface people? Bartle's taxonomy is only one tool for understanding play. We can't define it, but we can know one when we see one. challenges! Mastery > Winning! Design mechanics to test player skills.
Test multiple skills at the same time.
Luck subverts Mastery.
Tempt players to engage in challenges.
Allow players to choose to engage in risky opportunities.
Reward should co-vary with risk/challenge.
Provide multiple objectives to afford strategic thinking.
Enhance/warp perception of difficulty! Balance challenges with skill acquisition over time. Then shake it up!! i.e.: Games originated as social devices! All games have a pace.
All games have rhythms. The designer "affords" Heuristics. The Player actually creates them. Who's ahead, who's behind? "Position in race = likelihood to win" Probability of victory? Secondary Mechanics Rewards (and Punishment) Combined use of mechanics and other systems & content in the game resulting in unanticipated new mechanics. Sequences of actions + results that players repeat throughout the game to advance. Valuable rewards for valuable achievements.
Cycles of rewards: average less than 15 minutes.
Rhythm of rewards: use rewards to set the pace. Allow players to chain rewards, and risks, to achieve greater rewards.
Create rewards to validate desirable behaviors and experiences. Information Visible vs. Hidden Rules Games Players Goals Challenges Uncertainty Why? Where does it come from? tic-tac-toe, Palladin duels in vanilla WoW... Last resort: Random.value anyways? What is the primary conflict in my game?
What are the rules and procedures (mechanics)?
What actions do the players take and when?
How many players can play? How many are required to play?
How long does the ideal play session last?
How long does a game take to resolve?
What is the working title?
Who is the target audience?
[What platform will this game run on?]
What restrictions or opportunities does that platform afford?
What is the general pacing of the game (slow or blitz)?
What does the rhythm of the game-play feel like (steady, short bursts with long pauses, etc.)? Define each player’s goal.
What does a player need to do to win?
Write down the single most important type of player action in the game. Describe how this functions.
Write down the core rules in outline format. Only focus on the most critical rules!
Write down the primary game mechanics & heuristics you are designing.

Map out how a typical turn works (if applicable). Using a flow-chart is the most effective way to visualize this.
How do players interact with one another? Conventions ("standards") of (2D) Platformers? What are the standards in your design?
What are the innovations? (are they 'merely' standards from another genre?) Invariant, always present. "Rules" !"rules" rule: bullets are absorbed by solid objects. mechanic: player uses solid objects as cover/protection
during firefights.. Situational mechanics: Climbing ladders, Roll-to-cover, Swimming... Practice Innovation Standards ... sells games! Handle with care!! Requires players to learn new things,
new things require energy and time,
too much time and energy commitment will turn players away. They're free! Many players will already fully understand them. Conventions of the genre. Design Document: Submit with your team project as supporting documentation. rule: bullets are absorbed by solid objects. mechanic: player uses solid objects as
cover/protection during firefights. heuristic: always fight from cover and time your shots to avoid taking any damage, if possible. Rules, Mechanics, and Heuristics!
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