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Feral_P
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« on: December 21, 2010, 05:58:07 AM »

Game Design Cheat Sheet:
I've read quite a lot on game design, but I wanted to condense and collect all the useful information in one easy place. I haven't yet read 'Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals' yet, but the other couple of books I've heard are held in high esteem I have.

Most of the points are mechanics related, but some of Jesse Schell's are more to do with tweaking and balance or scenario creation than high-level design. I was going to organize it another way, but I couldn't fit the points neatly into other groups and doing it by author seems fine for now.

You're all welcome to contribute to the list; I'll try to update it. Anyway, I hope you find it useful.

A Theory of Fun (Raph Koster):
- Players experience fun when they solve a puzzle (in a broad sense of the word).
- When games stop teaching the player, they get bored.
- The player is bored if they understand the game system fully and how to beat it.
- The player is bored if they realize there is lots of depth, but that it's not useful to him/her.
- The player is bored if they see no patterns in the game - it's just noise to them.
- Patterns (gameplay elements) should be introduced often enough to keep interest but not so often as to overwhelm the player.

LostGarden.com (DanC):
- Theme is used to smooth out the initial learning curve of the player. For example, if you're a space marine you can easily tell you're supposed to shoot the alien.
- The player is driven to learn new skills that are high in perceived value.
- When you learn something new to the extent you can manipulate your environment with it, you feel like you're having fun.
- Players perform an action, the simulation (game) is updated and the player gets feedback.
- Players update their mental models of the game based on the feedback. They feel pleasure if they've made progress and joy if they master the new skill.
- If players feel their action has been in vain they'll feel boredom or frustration.
- Upon discovery of a skill, players experiment with it; for example, jumping all over the place.
- After learning one skill, players will use it to try and find another, creating skill chains. (eg. jumping skill -> jumping onto platforms)
- Players will use basic skills many times to try to unlock higher skills.
- If players never find a use for a skill (ie. they can't unlock another skill with it), they will lose interest in excercising that skill and also devalue earlier skills in the chain.


The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses (Jesse Schell):
- Games create experiences. Ask yourself what experience you want the player to have and what you can do to create that experience. If a game element doesn't reinforce the experience, why is it there?
- There are four parts to your game: aesthetics, mechanics, narrative and technology (eg. whether it's a computer game or a board game); he holds that they are all equally important to the experience and they should work together to create it.
- There should be a unifying theme and as many elements as possible should reinforce it.
- People enjoy surprises, either from the aesthetics, story, mechanics, other players or even themselves.
- Players should be asking as many questions as possible about your game, and they should care about these questions.
- Endogenous Value. That is, what is valuable in the game. Ask yourself what's valuable to the player and how it can be made more valuable. Consider the relationship between value and the player's motivations.
- Problem Solving: what problems is the player solving? How can new problems be generated to keep the player's interest?
- It can help if games are also successful as toys. If your game has no goal, will it still be fun?
- There should be clear goals. If there are multiple goals, they should be meaningfully related. There should be a good balance of long term and short term goals. Think about what the effects of the player choosing (some of) their own goals might be.
- A steady stream of not-too-easy, not-too-hard challenges is what gives the player a feeling of 'flow'.
- Players want to be judged. The judgement should be fair, they should care about it and it should make them want to improve.
- Is the game state known by some, all or only one of players? How would changing this change the game? Changing who knows what can be a great way of achieving drama.
- Emergence: How can players interact with objects? How many objects can each of the player's actions be used on? Are there many ways for the player to achieve their goals? What about changing the number of characters/objects the player controls? Do side effects of actions change the constraints on you or your opponent?
- How many operational actions are there (eg. moving a checker in checkers)? How many resultant actions are there (eg. protect a checker from being captured) are there? Are you happy with the ratio?
- Are there parts of the game that feel random when they're not? Does randomness give players feelings of lack of control or excitement? Would changing probability distributions improve the game? Can players take interesting risks? What's the relationship between chance and skill in your game?
- Challenges should cater for as many skill levels as possible, and the challenge should increase as the player succeeds. Think about how much variety there is in your challenges.
- A trivial choice is as good as no choice at all. Is there a dominant strategy in your game, making choices trivial? Is the player given the right number of choices? Are all the choices meaningful?
- Are there risk/reward trade offs in your game?
- Rewards: players should clearly understand the rewards they receive. Are the rewards well related to eachother? Variable reward 'drops' keep players playing steadily, whereas set rewards (say, once per 10 enemies) tend to get players to engage in a flurry of activity and then rest.
- If there are punishments in your game, why are they there? Can the punishments be turnes into rewards? Do they seem fair to players? Is the punishment balanced by an equally strong reward?
- Emergent complexity: simple rules, interacting to create complex situations. For example, draughts. Innate complexity is like emergent complexity, except created by complex rules. It is less desirable. An example of this are the pawns in chess. Can you change innate complexity into emergent complexity?
- If you can't provide high quality details in your game, can you make use of the player's imagination instead? Can you give some high quality details that will be reused in the player's imagination later?
- Is money too easy or hard to get? What can players buy and why? Are choices about spending money meaningful?
- Is the game balanced, so no-one has an unfair and ungained advantage over someone else?
- Accessibility: how will new players know what to do?
- Can players easily see they're making progress? If some of the progress is hidden, can it be made visible?
- Can challenges be presented in parallel, where finishing one makes the others easier, preventing players getting stuck?
- Can you get players to do what you want indirectly? Through NPCs, visual or audio design, interface design or goals?
- Know what problems are you have in your game design before you try to solve them.
- Consider who is going to play your game, and tailor it to them.
- What have you done that is unique and innovative that will get players talking about your game?

Misc:
- Positive feedback is when, for example, the better you're doing, the better you will do (or vice versa). Think kill streaks in COD.
- Negative feedback is when the better you're doing, the harder it will be to do better (or vice versa).
- Feedback can be 'capped'. To use yet another example, getting knocked over in street fighter is capped positive feedback. You're at a disadvantage, but you can't fall further into disadvantage. There are no higher levels of being knocked over.

See Also/ Further Reading:
http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=221.0
http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=14491.0 (Specifically the game design section)
I would highly recommend checking out The Art of Game Design book, as well as LostGarden.com, especially the essay on the chemistry of game design.

As I say, comments and feedback are welcomed and I'm always on the look out for new game design insights Wink
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 01:40:51 PM by Feral_P » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 07:13:16 AM »

Nice.

Having just finished A Theory of Fun and A Book of Lenses, it's nice to have a cheat sheet here.

I will definitely second you on recommending The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.  I'd definitely say that's my favorite so far.
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 12:32:49 PM »

Yeah, it really has some great stuff in there. And lots of it.

I don't agree with him that narrative, mechanics, aesthetics and technology are all equally important to player experience, especially in the case of narrative, but I see what he means.

I'd like to know if Rules of Play is actually worth reading; would it really add much to the above design theories?
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 12:43:01 PM »

- Positive feedback is when, for example, the better you're doing, the better you will do. Think kill streaks in COD. Negative feedback is when the better you're doing, the harder it will be to do better (or vice versa). This is generally the preferred kind of feedback.
That (bolded) seems an odd statement.  Preferred by whom?
Over-strong negative feedback can engender frustration - like you're being punished for doing well - while positive feedback feels good, you're rewarded for doing well.  Yes, "rich get richer" is sometimes a bad thing, but it can also serve to drive games towards a satisfying conclusion.
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Feral_P
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 01:37:37 PM »

Yes, you're right. Either could quite easily mess up, and the choice of which to use may well depend on context.

EDIT: I edited the first post and added a point about 'capped' feedback.

What different situations do you think you'd use positive or negative (or indeed neutral) feedback?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 01:55:30 PM by Feral_P » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 01:54:04 PM »

- Positive feedback is when, for example, the better you're doing, the better you will do. Think kill streaks in COD. Negative feedback is when the better you're doing, the harder it will be to do better (or vice versa). This is generally the preferred kind of feedback.
That (bolded) seems an odd statement.  Preferred by whom?
Over-strong negative feedback can engender frustration - like you're being punished for doing well - while positive feedback feels good, you're rewarded for doing well.  Yes, "rich get richer" is sometimes a bad thing, but it can also serve to drive games towards a satisfying conclusion.

"Rich get richer" is typically not the big problem with positive feedback loops (although it certainly can be annoying in COD).  The major problem is the converse of "Poor get poorer".  If I die in an RPG and lose half my experience, it only serves to make it harder when I go through the situation again.  If I died the first time around, why punish me even further by making it harder the second time?  I'm just liable to quit in that case. 

Remember positive and negative don't mean good or bad in this case, they just refer to the strengthening of the feedback.
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 03:50:27 PM »

I believe in certain games it's both possible and preferable to have both kinds of feedback loop.  Too much of one or the other can be jarring though.
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 05:28:40 PM »

i tend to think most writing on 'game design' is wrong, especially writings by people who don't make games professionally, and these principles aren't an exception
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 05:46:31 PM »

cheat sheets are supos to be small..
like this..

if the gam is boring... player is likely to be bord
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 01:19:55 AM »

i tend to think most writing on 'game design' is wrong, especially writings by people who don't make games professionally, and these principles aren't an exception
I can't say that's an opinion I've really encountered before. As far as I see, half these principles are based on player psychology (I could probably dig up some citations if you want) and the rest are either rules of thumb, based on experience (admittedly this is more tenuous) or different ways of looking at your game design.

Either way, I'd like to hear more of what you have to say.
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 02:45:58 PM »

thanks for the interest but i wouldn't want to hijack the thread by responding to each item on the cheat sheet and don't really have time for that in any case, so i'll pick three elements of this cheat sheet that i feel are particularly wrong while also being widespread beliefs, and explain why i think so



"There are four parts to your game: aesthetics, mechanics, narrative and technology (eg. whether it's a computer game or a board game); he holds that they are all equally important to the experience and they should work together to create it."

i do not feel that games are composed of "parts" like this. they're wholes. i don't like the idea that games consist of parts (mechanics, graphics, sound, story, programming, levels, etc.) and that you just create them separately and putting them together and hope they click. the division into parts is artificial and imaginary, and the particular categorization scheme people tend to use is misleading.

in particular, the idea of gameplay as separate from those other elements is a lie, there's no such thing as gameplay divorced from graphics or story or sound, because those other elements *are* part of the gameplay too. i'm not even saying "if the graphics are good, they help the gameplay, and vice versa, so they can't be separated", i'm saying that graphics *are* gameplay, and gameplay *is* graphics (and story is gameplay and so on). they're the same whole, there are no parts, and the division into parts and factory-line assembly of those parts together and complete separation of their production and the people responsible for their production leads to almost robotic, mechanically produced games.

i'd favor a much more organic creation process, where you don't create the things separately and put them together like clockwork, but instead start with a core allow it to grow. e.g. make some basic core, like a dot which can move around. then give it some powers. then give it some obstacles. then maybe some effects (particle effects or sound effects) to make it more exciting, and so on, adding things gradually when they seem like they'd be fun to add.

don't just see games as "oh, games have mechanics, graphics, music, sound, etc., so let's make those things and put them together". not every game even needs music, for instance, yet it's used all the time just because people have this idea in their head that games need music. not every game even needs a title screen, but people have this idea in their head that games have title screens, that it's one of the cogs of the machine, so every game just copies that and makes a title screen. it's kinda stupid to me, even though i've been guilty of it over the years about as much as every other developer. everyone's going after the same model, they all want their game to be "fun", they all think their games should have "goals" or at least "challenges" -- even those basic things are suspect and not really necessary except to people who see games as a collection of things instead of as a thing.



"Players want to be judged. The judgement should be fair, they should care about it and it should make them want to improve."

this just seems distasteful to me; i don't want to be judged in that sense when playing a game. i want to judge myself perhaps, but i don't really care if the game itself thinks i'm on par with it or with other people. i care about improving, beating my own records, getting better or further into the game by my own standards. i think having standards in the game itself to tell the player if they're doing a good job or not is kind of patronizing, it feels like school.

games don't have to be tests, and i personally don't like games to feel like school, whey're they're grading me and giving me gold or silver medals or letter grades from A+ to F. i think games could do with a lot less of that, although it's not particularly widespread yet (although it's more widespread than it used to be). it almost feels servile to me for someone to be happy that a game gave them a gold star, or told them 'congratulations, you did it!' or 'wow, you lose!' or to go after and stack up achievement points. i understand that many people are motivated by things like that, though, it's just not for me and feels like the players who do like that stuff are allowing others too much control over them

why not let people set their own goals? people differ in their skill levels; like: if i'm much more skilled at platformers than someone else, it doesn't make me feel good to get a+'s and gold stars when they don't, and just makes them feel bad that they don't do as well as me. people differ quite a lot: 100 pushups may be easy for someone, while someone else will be happy just reaching 10 or 1. reaching your own goals and improving is what really matters, and it's something that games are particularly bad at because they tend to reward or punish everyone by the same standard. so many games become cakewalks for some, and impossibly difficult for others (even with difficulty levels -- and the difficulty level itself is a judgement: you can only beat the game on easy, whereas i can beat it on hard! ha-ha!).

isn't playing games supposed to be leisure or a past-time (in most cases anyway)? grading people like they're on trial isn't relaxing to most people (observe how stressed out people are during tests in university).



"A trivial choice is as good as no choice at all. Is there a dominant strategy in your game, making choices trivial? Is the player given the right number of choices? Are all the choices meaningful?"

i recently encountered this idea in another thread, regarding starcraft and other rts games. people felt that anything that can be automated should be automated, even if there's a loss of precision, because nobody wants to be forced to do something when it's clearly the best choice and 100% of the time anyone would want to do it.

i disagree with this, even though it seems very hard to argue against. the reason i disagree with it is that sometimes performing something, even if it's obviously the best choice, is fun to do.

as an example, take super mario bros. obviously jumping up to collect a coin when there is a coin above you is the best choice to do, because coins give you points and if you collect 100 of them you get an extra life. so why not automatically make the player jump when they are under a coin?

my answer: because it takes control away from the player; the game is then "playing itself", the player isn't playing the game anymore.

there are plenty of things which are obviously the best choice but shouldn't be automated. for instance, auto-fire. firing is often the best choice in many games, shmups, sidescrolling shooters, and so on. but simply adding auto-fire to the game, where you can't stop shooting and don't control shooting at all, while it's the best choice and players would press the button or hold it down to fire anyway, feels weird: it's taking control away. players don't feel as if it's *them* firing their gun anymore if you have auto-fire.

even worse is auto-aiming. the AI can aim your gun better than you can, so why not just add auto-aim to your game? because the player is playing the game so that they can aim and shoot a gun, not so the computer can aim it and shoot it for them!

same thing goes for running (holding down b to run in super mario bros for instance) and many other things: in any game there are many things you can automate, but automating them would be a bad idea because it'd take the feeling that the player is really playing the game away.

so i think that this rule, while well-intentioned (it's intended to make more interesting choices for the player) isn't a fundamental principle and there are many exceptions, and definitely should not be followed religiously, because if you follow it too much, you'll eventually automate everything and turn a game into a choose your own adventure book where the player just chooses between automated path A and automated path B at crossroad points.

so no, jumping to get a coin isn't a meaningful choice, but it's fun and should not be taken away
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 03:03:23 PM by Paul Eres » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2010, 03:03:53 PM »

I agree that you can't prescribe rules of good game design!  Otherwise they'd all be the same. Sad

It's one thing I like about the indie world, because there's generally less stuff that's entirely by the book.
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« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2010, 03:19:11 PM »

I agree with what you're saying, Paul, but I don't feel the advice is "wrong" - just not always true all the time.

However, as with any advice, it's up to the reader to decide which parts to put into action and which parts to disregard. The fact that you've consciously made the decision to adhere to or disregard the advice is the most important thing - what matters is that you've thought through your design decisions thoroughly.

I don't believe there's a set of rules for game design, but I do believe there's such a thing as good advice and food for thought. This kind of advice is well worth reading through, but it's important to pick through it and challenge the opinions of the writers.

I personally think it's all pretty sound advice, and at the very least food for thought, even if it isn't universally true.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 03:47:15 PM by Alistair Aitcheson » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2010, 04:49:23 PM »

I think there are parts to games, conceptually speaking. I definitely wouldn't say they were interchangeable or completely separate, but I think they are significant when dealing with design of a game. An item in a game could be represented by a beautifully rendered chest or a green circle and either option would have little effect on game mechanics. I don't really understand the argument here, except for if there were no visuals, audio, or feedback then the game mechanics could not be recognized and the player wouldn't know they were playing a game.

I have no idea what the "players want to be judged" comment means. If it means "challenged", then I could probably agree that many players like to have goals set for them, especially if the game and goals go hand in hand like speed goals in racing games. Most games have goals already in completing levels and objectives, so its not too far a stretch to add additional goals for doing things better. Even sandbox games that can be played with no objectives have an intrinsic goal of not dying. Obviously, what is fun for one person might be boring or frustrating to another, so it really depends on what the player wants out of their game experience.

Considering that games aren't the real world, there's always something that will be automated. It would probably be horrible to have to press a button while you're over a coin in order to pick it up in a mario game, but if you automatically jumped up to grab coins, it could easily cause you to run into a hazard and kill you, making jumping up to get that coin a meaningful choice. Things like autoaim and autofire usually exist to cover up some kind of shortcoming in game controls or player skill, like your thumbs getting tired from pressing to fire at dozens of enemies or players that are bad at aiming in FPSs. Part of the game design will consist of determining which actions to automate. If players enjoy autoaim and autofire and the game would not be too automated by adding them, then they should probably be available features to enable or disable.
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« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2010, 05:10:43 AM »

OK. First of all, thanks, everyone, for your lengthy replies - it's always good to get second opinions Smiley

I would say there are such things as rules of game design, even if, as Alistair says, they're just rules of thumb. A good analogy, I think would be music theory. There are rules to creating music that sounds good, but that by no means means all music sounds the same. I believe that's where we can be in the future, with respect to game design. That's not to say we're even close, yet, though.

Paul:
I feel Falmil made a good counter-point with regards to games being composed of parts. You seem to be taking game-play to mean player experience instead of mechanics (ie the system behind the game). I would agree that all four elements combine to create the player experience, but they can be, essentially, separate as far as the construction of the game goes. That's not to say one shouldn't inform the others (most people agree they should), but they are four quite distinct elements.

As for the point about players wanting to be judged: I think this may have been communicated badly (by me). But players do like to be judged well by a fair judge and games are a great way of doing that. Judging players is a good way to provide and incentive for improvement and it can be much more subtle than an A-F grade at the end of the level. In some ways, the sound of collecting a coin in Mario is a reward and, by association, a judgment of the player. That is, I'm aware, an annoyingly loose definition of judment. If, as you suggest, you let players pick there own goals, you'd still need to judge them at the end. I don't think that a game without any sort of judgment or goal is really a game at all. More of a toy. But for a game to lack (fair) judgment would, I think, be the worse off for it.

Meaningful choices. Again, Falmil makes some good points. I agree with you about there being certain times it would not be desirable, however I'm not arguing for every choice to necessarily be non-trivial. I'm just saying there (almost) HAVE to be at least some meaningful choices in a game for it to be both fun and conventionally a game. Getting the right number of meaningful choices and the right number to choose from in the right time is an important part of designing a game, even if when you're designing it you don't think of it in those terms.

I did start to rush this list towards the second half, so if anything is less than clear, please tell me so I can update it Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2010, 05:54:11 AM »

Paul, I think you should actually read the books before criticizing.  Feral_P did a good job of synopsizing, but the cheat sheet he posted is just that, a cheat sheet. 

Anyway, I disagree with you entirely about the meaningful choices.  The ones you listed aren't meaningless choices. It isn't always the right choice to hold down the run button in Mario, because maybe my fine control goes down because I'm not a great player.  Jumping to get a coin is indeed a meaningful choice, I get 1 more coin, perhaps I screw up my next jump, maybe it slows me down so I feel a need to rush later in the level, etc. 

I'm going to use an example from one of my favorite games, Magic: The Gathering, to show a meaningless choice.

Before the last round of major rule changes in the game there was something known as "damage on the stack".  When two creatures hit each other in combat (i.e. attacker blocked by blocker)  there would be a step when the damage was sitting on the stack waiting to be applied in which both of the players could act.  If you had a creature that had the ability "Sacrifice this: Deal 1 damage to target creature or player."  and blocked another creature, there used to only be 1 play that made any sense, i.e. wait until damage is on the stack and then sacrifice your creature to hit another creature or player.  This is because you get both the damage that blocking the creature allows for and the other 1 damage dealt to your creature/player of choice.  By offering up the option of doing something while damage is on the stack, the game offered up a meaningless choice.  There are no meaningful tactical decisions to be made because there is only 1 correct line of play.
In contrast the game has changed such that damage is no longer placed upon the stack, it is dealt instantly.  In the above example, the player has to choose whether they want the damage dealt by the blocker or the damage from the ability to their target of choice.  By limiting the options to the player, the game forces the player to make a meaningful choice. 

I guess my interpretation of the "meaningful choices" is that you need to make sure that every choice your player makes them trade something for another thing.  If the game asks me "Would you like 50 gold or 100 gold?"  I'm going to take the 100 gold every time (this is discounting the subset of gamers who like to make the game more difficult themselves as this discussion becomes impossible if we include them).  Now if the game asked "Would you like 50 wood or 100 gold?"  and there was no direct conversion between wood and gold, that would be a meaningful decision.
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« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2010, 12:48:01 PM »

There are many genres of game. By saying "game design" we are destroying meaning. Just like saying that candy and spaghetti are both "food". Sure they are but they have different qualities and you certainly wouldn't want to have a candy for dinner, or a plate of spaghetti for a mid-hike snack. So any advice that is labeled "game" design is a little suspect to me, kind of like the "heart smart" label on the diabetes inducing concentrated sugar breakfast cereals.

That being said, lets boil down the whole meaningless choice business to basic min-maxing. We have resources that we need to allocate like, time, points, coins, attention, whatever. If the trade-off between two resources is below a certain ratio, then it reaches an absurd level where only masochists would select option B, as in the excellent MTG example above.

In the mario bros. example however, we have the resources of attention, reflex, and time. I can only mash so many buttons per second, and when goombas are swarming up ahead I need to allocate my reflexes for the more important resource (coin vs. life). In early parts of the game, apparently meaningless "decisions" about whether or not to jump for a coin are really just reflex training. Later on when the game starts closing in on you, decisions bear more gravity and what was once a simple no-brainer becomes a split second resource allocation problem.

In my experience most well designed games do this. They provide a safe environment to learn about these resources, and then slowly ramp up the difficulty until you are presented with a (hopefully) interesting allocation problem.

Just my two coins...
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2010, 03:24:52 AM »

There are many genres of game. By saying "game design" we are destroying meaning. Just like saying that candy and spaghetti are both "food". Sure they are but they have different qualities and you certainly wouldn't want to have a candy for dinner, or a plate of spaghetti for a mid-hike snack. So any advice that is labeled "game" design is a little suspect to me, kind of like the "heart smart" label on the diabetes inducing concentrated sugar breakfast cereals.
While I'd agree you can't get as specific about design when talking about games in general as you can when talking about a specific genre, I don't think different genres are so different as to warrant completely separate theories of game design. They're all algorithmically based systems designed to create a feeling or experience in the player, and as such you can always use the principles of psychology to help your design.

I could agree to separating game design ideas based on what you want the player's experience to be like. Most of the ideas I had on the list were for creating a 'fun' experience.

That being said, lets boil down the whole meaningless choice business to basic min-maxing. We have resources that we need to allocate like, time, points, coins, attention, whatever. If the trade-off between two resources is below a certain ratio, then it reaches an absurd level where only masochists would select option B, as in the excellent MTG example above.

In the mario bros. example however, we have the resources of attention, reflex, and time. I can only mash so many buttons per second, and when goombas are swarming up ahead I need to allocate my reflexes for the more important resource (coin vs. life). In early parts of the game, apparently meaningless "decisions" about whether or not to jump for a coin are really just reflex training. Later on when the game starts closing in on you, decisions bear more gravity and what was once a simple no-brainer becomes a split second resource allocation problem.

In my experience most well designed games do this. They provide a safe environment to learn about these resources, and then slowly ramp up the difficulty until you are presented with a (hopefully) interesting allocation problem.

Just my two coins...
All good points.
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Makiyivka
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2010, 08:43:41 AM »

i tend to think most writing on 'game design' is wrong, especially writings by people who don't make games professionally, and these principles aren't an exception

While the rest of the thread has some good discussion, and I don't mean to detract from that, I'm curious why you put in that bit about 'by people who don't make games professionally'?  Each one of the three authors listed (Raph Koster, Danc, and Jesse Schell) makes games professionally.  I mean, Raph Koster was lead designer on Ultima Online, he's practically a founder of MMOs!  Danc has worked on several rather successful flash games (most recently Steambirds: Survival).  Jesse Schell is perhaps the weakest of the list, though he's still a professional game designer (and best known for his TED talk on games in the real world: http://www.ted.com/talks/jesse_schell_when_games_invade_real_life.html)

I mean, I've no problem with you disagreeing with their points, but to do so because 'they aren't professional game designers' seems inappropriate.
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« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2010, 03:52:21 AM »

schell isn't a professional game designer, he's an academic professor. he's credited in only two games, and wasn't really involved much in either of them (he's in the special thanks section, not on the development team)

http://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,282434/

the others have better credentials, but schell dominated the cheat sheet, and it was his three points i addressed in my reply

i also wasn't particularly talking about these three, but about game design in general. most books and papers on game design aren't written by people with any experience at it. same with game design courses etc. -- so it was basically a warning not to put much stock in what these people say, or to try to make games according to what they teach.

in general i've found that the less experience someone has making games, the more they have to say about how games "should" be made. people with experience have a much more 'there are no clear-cut rules, what works works, for any rule you can find dozens of exceptions' approach. and i see so many people misled by these ideas; 'game design chemistry' and such is probably the worst of them i've seen.
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