Saturday, 13 December 2008

Game Design, its goddamn epic.

How this task was set out makes my head hurt, but anyway I shall push foward and get this thing done. Here Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the wonderful world of Game Design, the Creative process behind all our games. A very long and thought out process from what I have read, I’ve sometimes wondered why some games take years in development and I think I’ve found my answer, turns out game design is one painstakingly epic process.

It’s far from my brains capability to explain the full extent of the process, but as far as I know it goes from goal > topic > Research > Design > evaluation>development > testing > post mortem, reminds me somewhat of my old ICT classes, its layout is similar to how programs are design and given to clients. The Goal is what the Designers want to achieve with the game, do they want a certain aspect to be prevalent, for example, a cheesy one at that, would be the value of friendship and the topic would be say a high school environment, (if you haven’t figured it out yet I’m talking about Persona3 :3 ). Next is the research which in the case of persona 3 could be how students act socially making the experience seem realistic as well as how the game will look and feel to players. Then there’s Design, where a lot of blood and sweat is spent, here several structures must be taken into account, the I/O structure, the game stricture and the programme structure where several factors must be taken into account. How the game will interact with the player, how it will all fold out and how will it all fit on the memory for distribution, I would say more about this portion but it does confuse me a fair bit. Next is the evaluation of the game design documents, this part of the process is to ensure that the structures made in the design stage live up to the goals set earlier, this part is also the decider to whether a game is sent to programming or canned altogether.

Next of course is Development but well that’s pretty obvious what happens here, the game is programmed and while it is something I’d like to delve into more my lack of knowledge prevents me. The play testing aspect follows and is where the game is polished for release, it’s tested for bugs and defaults and possible errors that can occur in the game and is also the point where using the feedback from play testers the designers and programmers can go back and forth until the game is perfect, or at least close to perfect. The last part is the post mortem which is evaluating the reception the game gets from critics and the public, this is the final part where it will be revealed whether the fruits of your labour have paid off, will the game become game of the year or bomb miserably?

Now that we have an idea of game design I’d like to look at gameplay an aspect of games which is often the result of the I/O structure part of design, the way in which the game and player interact with each other, in my eyes I see game play as the game mechanics the controls and the experience that comes with it in the form of story, art direction and musical score, in other words the whole package and how it affects a player’s experience. It is often said that companies like EA and Square are the forefront in game design, however I find that to be a bit of a misconception, I think it’s down to just how well known these companies are, personally I don’t find them to be that great at game design, yes they make games but more than often they make absolute stinkers or at least games which don’t live up to the potential that the game should have had and just feels like a license driven property. EA with its movie games and Square with its...well... just have a look below...


More than often I look to more unknown developers like Atlus for example, as I mentioned Persona 3 earlier, a wonderful game which combines a traditional RPG fighter with a school life sim. Apart from my love of anime with the games aesthetic it creates an interesting image of school life, granted quite different from our school environment where academic smarts will probably get you beaten up and while combining two different gaming styles it does them surprisingly well with the integration of the two where the social links made in the school life aspect of the game strengthen the character in the fighting aspect of the game, and all of this within one town no need to go all round the world.
Now back to an earlier thing I said about game design, how I discovered more than one person made it, well that’s obviously a given especially in today’s industry, where games are never a simple graphical calculation but now an intricate twining of many design principles and something I don’t believe one person can do on their own without going kookoo. A game needs designers, concept artists, programmers, writers, 3d modellers etc all to make a game even possible and it’s what I believe sets apart the game design of such games as pac man, leaving out the obvious nature of technology to games, game design now is just so much more epic, while it adheres to some set genre design principles such as , referring back to persona 3, the turn based actions of RPGs, or say the rear behind view of racing games, games of today have much more behind their designs, the look of characters, the environments, the way a character moves etc. Its more on par with making a movie than an arcade game made in the 80s.

AND FINALLY since I think I’ve talked for too long on this topic, what I find most important when I play games is....well I don’t find anything in particular important, well of course I would love amazing controls and a story which would make me cry tears of joy and what not but if I can enjoy both excite bike and Bioshock then I think I can accept anything really......well as long as its within my way in hell am I playing petz.....

1 comment:

Michael Powell said...

LOL, the square enix thing is a work of genius... nice find.

I'll have to find 'Design a character the Rare way' for you