The Core Principles Of Game Design

1.Focal Point;

Never allow the player to guess what they should focus on.

For example my game is a 2D plat-former that places you at a certain end on a level which shows that the player should make their way to the other end.

2. Anticipation:

Time is needed to inform the player that something is about to happen. Always factor in Anticipation when designing and implementing events and behaviours.

Level design example
A train sound effect occurs before player sees train.

3.Announce Change:

Communicate all changes to the player. This short step occurs between Anticipation and the event itself.

System design example
An on-screen notification occurs when quest criteria have been completed (i.e. “Slay 10 goblins for Farmer Bob”)

4.Believable Events and Behaviour:

Logical events occurring in the game that is believable to the character.

Level design example
Place destructible objects near an explosive object. This way, the explosion looks more believable.

5. Overlapping Events and Behaviour:

Events occurring over each other to give urgency.

Level design example
Providing the player the ability to build from an appropriate list of structures.

6. Physics:

Logical physics within the game that can be noted by the player as believable like mass and gravity.

For example: the drop in my game gives the player direction since it is and adequate size to drop down.

7. Sound:

Sounds in the game which fit with the gameplay and other effects.

System design example
A proximity system where sound effects volume fluctuates depending on distance of game assets.

8.  Progression Pacing:

Keep in mind the desired sense of urgency, the rate in which events occur, the level of concentration required and how often events are being repeated.

Level design example
Create areas for the player to admire the expansive view, versus areas where the player feels claustrophobic.

9. Environment Spacing:

Understand how much space is available both on-screen and in-world, recognize the spatial relationship between elements and take into account the effects of modifying those spaces.

Level design example
Lay out the appropriate amount of space for the appropriate number of enemies to manoeuvre correctly.

10. Linear Design versus Component Breakdown

Linear Design involves solving challenges as they come. Component Breakdown involves systemic categorization and forming a logical hierarchy of all solutions.

System design example
Identifying all major systems such as combat, AI, and progressively filling in various levels of detail versus conceiving the first couple of levels and extracting possible systems based on a linear player experience.

11. Player

How does the player factor into this? How does the player interact with everything that has been designed? More than just device input, address how the player contributes to the experience.

Level design example
Setting up the player in hopes of making them jump out of their seat.

12. Communication

Is the appropriate team member correctly aware of the objective? Are the appropriate developers clear on the solution? If it’s a good idea but you can’t communicate it correctly, it might as well be a bad idea because it’s very likely to be received as such.

System design example
Using visual cues so the player learns when to punch rather than kick, jump rather than strafe, etc.

13. Appeal

When addressing anyone, ask yourself, “Does this draw the audience in?” This applies to (but is not limited to) the player, the spectator, your fellow developers, the publisher, and their marketing team.

System design example
Punching can be fun but when the camera shakes on impact, it’s even more fun.

Goals, challenges & rewards: These can apply to my game because of the goal to reach the end of the level as well as the challenge to obtain the collectables.

Difficulty & balance: I aim to make my game balanced and fun.

Feedback: The game will include music and sound effects to show that the player has done something bad or good.

Game world: My world will have the appeal because of its cyber world look.

NPC’s and characters: My game could include NPC’s and the would instruct the player about the controls and the story.

Feedback Interface: The player will be given a HUD that shows the health of the play and possibly show the players abilities.


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