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Old Game Making and You: A Tutorial to Successful Game Design

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Old 06-18-2014, 06:36 AM
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Game Making and You: A Tutorial to Successful Game Design

Hello Toons. This is the first edition of my tutorial about making videogames. Without further time-wasting, we shall begin.
Bear in mind that I WILL be quoting from famous books about it.

Chapter I: Scratch

Believe me Toons, this is the hardest part of game making. Thousands of videogames have failed to reach the minimum requirements for sales, just because their plot, storyline, or backstory is not fun or entertaining. I have learned lately that plot plays a very important role in game design. But why would people love it so much? Us, as humans, toons, or sentinent beings, are obsessed with making patterns. Just look at emoticons. They're just a few dots and a letter, and voilą! A face! On the opposite side we get easily bored with what we can't understand such as noise or overly-mysterious storylines.
Same thing goes for game stories. If the player can't understand it or feels it isn't fun enough, they'll probably stop playing very early. Games are puzzles. They're about cognition and analyzing patterns. When you're playing a game, you play it until you master the pattern. Once you've mastered it, the game becomes BORING. Players seeking to advance in a game will always try to optimize what they are doing. If they are clever and see an optimal path— an Alexandrine solution to a Gordian problem —they’ll do that instead of the “intended gameplay.” They will try to make the gameplay as predictable as possible. Which then means it becomes boring, and not fun. Most long-lasting games in the past have been competitive, because they lead to an endless supply of similar yet subtly varied puzzles. "Games will never be mature as long as the designers create them with complete answers to their own puzzles in mind. Even then, there will a class of player who prefers the comfort of only tackling puzzles they know how to solve. In the caveman days, the wolves got 'em. These days, we’re a bit more tolerant—the job market gets them instead."

And thanks to some replies, I will be adding another main tip to understand.
Almost everyone loves puzzle games. Let's take a game of tick-tack-toe for example. Does it REALLY compare to WatchDogs or HalfLife in terms of graphics and plot? (no ad intended). Even though it doesn't have brain-busting graphics or EVEN a storyline, it's still addictive, and many people manage to spend a couple of hours playing a tiny puzzle game.
It's that feeling, deep inside, that game designers intend to arise. This is sort of a psychic matter when you think about it but why does everyone love a game with no subject?? Simply for a few reasons. All games must follow these rules.
1) The more sophisticated the player is, the more the game should be.
2) In every game there is a player. Do not neglect him.
3) Gamers shouldn't stray from the main plot.
Let's revew them one by one.

RULE 1: THE MORE SOPHISTICATED THE PLAYER IS, THE MORE THE GAME SHOULD BE.
This is probably considered as the golden rule of plot-based games and some puzzle games such as the classic puzzle and tetris and all RPG games, regardless of the theme or gameplay. You only get better if the game seems to get increasingly challenging to you.
Basically, the stronger you get in the game and the deeper are the secrets you unveiled about it, the more the bad guys will be tracking you down. Let's take Earthbound, the 80s SNES hit game. Ness, the protagonist, was nothing to the bad guys. They didn't even count him as a threat. High level enemies didn't EVEN BOTHER fighting him since he was a mere 13 year old child. Yet, Ness managed to take down a few billion years old embodiement of evil, the mad boss that's gone even madder, classed on the top of most top 10 scariest bad guy lists, Giygas, with only baseball bats and true, innocent prayers from his family and friends.
Why?? Good question. Along the way, you gathered partners, friends, allies. You leveled up. You bought more armor. Your weapons became stronger. As I played this game as a kid, that night I slept happily. I had dreams about the bad guys being evaporated like dust. Games like these, with their childish innocence that slowly becomes the destroyer-of-evil weapons, are what made me cry just by remembering how far I went from the first level.
Quote:
The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent.—Fundamentals of Chess; 1885
RULE 2: IN EVERY GAME THERE IS A PLAYER. DO NOT NEGLECT HIM.
Obviously, the player is the thing that stands out the most from here. He's the bringer-of-freedom, the guy-behind-the-scenes, the limitless-potentialled-hero, the knight-class-master, whatever you wanna call him. It's a person that has a computer and wants to spend a good time. People mainly get frustrated when they get to the boss level and you have to beat him ultimately, then "Oh Look! The super bomb is right here!" and they win without absolutely any effort or drop of sweat. There should be assimilation to the fact that the player is THERE. There also should be an increasing difficulty level, a hierarchy pyramid at which the boss sits atop. Make it a surprise.
Quote:
The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.—Julius Cesar; 75 BC
RULE 3: GAMERS SHOULDN'T STRAY FROM THE MAIN PLOT.
Unless it's a sandbox game, it's mostly preferable to let the player stay on the main plot. Everything else you do such as minigames, owning properties, and virtual currency should have a relationship with the main plot. You can't just avoid the main plot and expect to be magically stronger next time you log in! Successful games should allow everything to make you slightly stronger, and let the plot be the main level-up source. Leeet's take Toontown (again) and look at an absolutely random topic. Why do you train doodles, such tiny little fuzzy animals? It's because they can help you in BATTLE! Why do you even bother karting or golfing when you could be just doing tasks? It adds more health points which helps in BATTLE! Why do we even matter "training" our gags? There's litterally no difference between a level 4 squirt and a level 3 throw! It's because players LOVE TO BRAG IN BATTLE! See? Everything you do, if done well, will result in increasing your abilities to some point. On good games, or real life, you can only get better by working hard just like that. Wasting time in "gm shows" or "clan wars" will only make you a nuisance to the others and to yourself.
Quote:
There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.
So what can we understand out of this? Lots of things. Mostly:
- Players LOVE freedom. Give them as much space as you can, but NEVER let them stray out of the main subject.
- You see Toontown, right? It's a free game where I can go wherever I want whenever I want, yet still follow the plot about the big bad robots.
- NEVER give players the opportunity to play the way they master it. Make your game fresh and ever-changing.
- Exploit the main weakness in human entertaining. Give them something to think about! Give them a pattern! Never place an NPC in the first level that spoils you about what's going on (unless it's for a reason).
- If your game is intended to be for smart people, place clues about what's going on, then sum up at the end.
- Follow the rules, and you'll be fine. Litterally. Just do it.

Chapter II: Computer

WHOA THERE! This is my first draft! You are free to read it, but I didn't write that far! See me next time to make sure I'll add this part!

Last edited by Tarazanos; 06-18-2014 at 09:33 PM..
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:37 PM
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Ill be sure to read this, awesome tips so far!
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:35 PM
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I disagree. I play videogames to PLAY something fun. Not for a story. Stories can really help/hurt a game, but the story doesn't HAVE to be the core of a game.

You could stretch "Story" to broader terms like "Narative", "Body Language", or "Affordances". Most games need SOME tutorials and conveying the needed information with body language and the placement of objects is usually much better than blocks of text. I can tell if standing in the way of an elevator will hurt me by it's body language sometimes.

Toontown has a lot of freedom, but you don't get everything you might want. You cannot get teleport access to Donald's Dreamland before finishing up your tasks in Toontown Central. You cannot just give yourself a laff limit of 239 without doing toontasks. Toontown does have a lot of freedom, but not total freedom. Total freedom can be boring anyway...

___
I would link it, but it mentions something bad and questionable... But please look up a video by Extra Credits called "Fail Faster". We learn from failure, so when designing a game, you have to fail faster. The game doesn't even have to be playable for this. You don't need more than words on a page. Run the idea by some friends. Mock-up the mechanics on paper and play it with others as quickly as you can. Imagine playing the game right down to the button presses. Watch where it goes wrong.

Don't just spin your wheels on high level concepts before starting work on the game. If you do that, you won't have enough iteration time to fix all the problems that arise. Learn from your mistakes before they cost you dearly. The more it costs, the less likely you'll be to fix the problems.

The concept behind Sonic the Hedgehog is an indigo hedgehog in sneakers that can run really fast. And ideas like "Hey! Let's throw birds at pigs!" (Angry Birds) makes a billion dollars.
___
That's basically what the video says. It kinda sounds like it's for bigger games, but still.

In my opinion, every part of the game should be entertaining. I don't mind plot holes that much if the story is entertaining enough.

I'm curious what else you'll say on game development. Think I'll be keeping up with this thread. :)
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:47 PM
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That's a very nice thingy you said right there, Dynoboom.
Bear in mind that storyline isn't what i'll be focusing about on this post. I'll also add technical tutorials and idea-helping suggestions!
Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:06 PM
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You bring up a lot of great points, thanks for posting!

I think each game is different, and the plot importance depends on
the genre, game play, and the gamers that they are trying to reach.
Because if a RPG had no great story, the game would most likely fail.
But if it is a game like a FPS, it all depends. Some people play for the
game play, and if it is great, they won't stop playing if the story is non
existent. Bioshock has an amazing story with first person elements,
and COD has a OK story but with great multiplayer and gameplay.
They both fare very well in the market.

Mario and Sonic do have a light story but they do well because of the
game mechanics and because it is fun to play, but games like Final
Fantasy and Chrono Trigger's story really puts them on top. I think that
if they lack doing well in one, they have to make it up in some other area.
Just some my two cents. :)

This is sort of off topic but not really, but a great book on video games as a whole is "Vintage Games" by Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. It goes over the reasons why old games were so influential and what made them still good to this day. Very fun read!
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:35 PM
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Thanks to everyone for posting and replying! I'll be sure to polish this and add more content as soon as possible :D
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