Posts Tagged ‘Game Design’

Great Expectations

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Lately I’ve been mulling over the idea that games contain hidden transactions. No, not monetary transactions, but the idea that games contain lots of miniature contracts between the game (or designer) and the player.

From a player’s perspective:

  • If I open this treasure chest, I will receive an item.
  • Killing enemies or monsters should reward me or otherwise help me to achieve a goal.
  • Rewards should be comparable to the effort I put in.
  • If there is a puzzle or goal, then there should be a way for me to legally complete it.
  • If I press a button or toggle a switch, something should happen.

Those are some fairly common high-level design expectations that players have. (There are obviously many others, and more-specific ones as well) If the player finds that their expectations are not met (the contract is broken) they may feel frustrated, angry, or even betrayed. If the player consistently opens treasure chests and receives no items or kills monsters and receives no experience, then the game designer has obviously not kept up his end of the bargain!

I think that game designers have a certain degree of responsibility to uphold these expectations, or if they do not, to provide obvious alternate contracts.

Cut scenes

Friday, April 6th, 2007

There are two general guidelines for cut scenes that every game designer should abide by:

  1. Allow the player to skip every cut scene. (Exceptions could perhaps be made for the very first time a player views the cut scene.) Having to sit through a two minute cut scene every time you die to a boss is frustrating and easily avoidable.
  2. Save or check points do not belong immediately before a cut scene. When I load up a saved game, I want to start playing, not start watching a cut scene. If I am fighting a boss, I don’t want to watch the same cut scene over and over when I inevitably die.

I also have some other suggestions (“Hire translators who speak both Japanese and English,” or “Cut scenes should stay consistent with the game world.”) but following these two general rules would make cut scenes immensely better.

Additionally, there should be a way to go back and view cut scenes that have already been seen in the game. This is not really a gameplay issue though.