Game makers around the world have been trying to entertain us for years. At current the Games industry is somewhere around a $50 billion worldwide industry. Certainly the largest of the entertainment industries. But how are they made? We are familiar with movies and music but so often no one addresses the game development process. We are here to show a high level view of what goes on behind the doors of a game studio.
All games are produced by a team of very smart and talented people:
There can be more people involved, but this is the basic crew. Now that we have the team in place, let’s make a game!
Part 1: Game Design Basics
I have been asked several times on how games are made. What are the processes and activities that go into a game? Well to start, games can be very simple or very complex, but there are some overarching rules that most game designers use. Games are made of a set of simple rules that allow the player to advance through the game, but sometimes these rules become complex for the designer. Without getting into too much detail I will go over a few things to keep in mind.
First off, games are not puzzles. They are experiences that take players through an interactive journey. Games are different in that they change with the decisions of the player. Puzzles never change.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Target Audience: Who is the game intended for? I like to think of this as the point at which you can begin the design process. Make a list of who you think will play the game and why? This will become critical in the rest of the design process. It will guide your decisions on how and when certain events will occur and allow you to be able to understand how your player will interact with your game.
Learning Curve: There is some debate over this. For more complex games the learning curve may be steep. When designing that great idea, it is essential that you take into consideration, how much time a person will take in learning how the game is played, the controls and most importantly the goals of the game. Often game developers create great games, but the learning curve is so steep that the gamer ends up not playing because of the complexity of learning all the aspects of the game. I always try to tell developers that the flatter the learning curve the better.
Goals and Rewards: We play games because they are fun. We like being challenged but we also like winning. Rewards help the player define decision making. They are constantly making decisions and the risk/reward is what helps define whether the game is enjoyable or not. Chris Bateman, a game designer veteran goes over several types of rewards:
Decision making—Player decisions are the most complex part of the game, what can they do and why. Sometimes this is critical to the behavior of the game. Each decision the player makes the state of the game change. Not just simply an interactive experience, but true decisions that affect the rest of the game. While designing, it is imperative that you take into consideration all the decisions that a player can make and design the consequences for them. Make sure you understand the philosophies behind good decision-making and what makes the player experience rich.
With these in mind you can start to think of how your game will develop over time. These are not all the things you will need, but they will start you on the right path.
REMEMBER: Games are meant to be fun.
The gaming industry has set some standards and the players have become acquainted with some formulas that most game designers use today. That does not mean you should not look for other ways to entertain your audience, but do not dismiss some of the things that your audience may like. Here is the starting point at which you should be the most creative. Every idea at this point is a good one until you figure out your game. At that point is when you can begin to check things off and/or throw things out.