Blog Archive (The Orchard)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9 Tips For Making Better Games

Sometimes you want to hear a detailed explanation, and sometimes you just want a list. Today, I've got a list for you; yes, a list of 9 tips for better games. Apply these points to your projects, and they will benefit from them! 

1. Give them a choice.

Okay, one important aspect in game design is choices. Gameplay that offers meaningful choices creates an enjoyable experience. If you think about it, the more choices, the longer a game will occupy the long as the choices actually matter.

2. Make their input matter

In designing a game, it is also important to make sure that every decision the player makes yields an appropriate response. Certain options are opinion related. For example, choosing the color car you want to drive is such a choice; choices like these are meaningful to the player but don't require as much care to design as a decision that would, say, alter the story. When choices really matter, gameplay is deepened. 

3. Keep it real

There's a trend in the video game industry that has been in operation ever since Super Mario Bros: a move towards realism. What is realism? It's when a game and the aspects thereof resemble real life. I'm not just talking about cool high-definition graphics. Realism has to do with the personality and character of the game, so to speak. Intuitive controls, characters that you can empathize with, physics engines that make the game "feel" real--all these elements are kinds of realism that are exemplified in games.

4. Make it Genuine

Mediocrity is generally not appreciated. And it won't be appreciated in your games, either. Making your game genuine is similar to keeping it real. It means not trying to be something that you aren't. It's probably not a good idea to try to cover up poor game mechanics with sparkly graphics. If you're game is supposed to be real to life, keep it real to life. If it's a comedy, keep it comical!

5. Be New

Originality, novelty, variation--newness in all its forms practically creates an "intrinsic enagagemnet" for your players. Presenting your players with new ideas in a game or an original concept can really attract people. New things can be fun. I enjoy trying new game experiences, provided the game is fun. Putting in unique ideas will also help make a game stand out. If you want to learn more about the topic of "new,"click here.

6. Consider your Audience

It's good to consider your audience. With a game project that I'm working on right now, I want to appeal to as many people as possible. If you are trying to reach everyone with a game as I am in this case, you should consider some "limiters" that may turn away or draw in potential players. Time is one example. If you create a game with levels that last thirty minutes, you may turn away those who haven't got large enough chunks of leisure time to play that long. In a similar manner, a game that requires too much foreknowledge of common game mechanics or that takes novice players too fast may turn away the less experienced and so limit your audience. There is a way to slowly introduce new players to your game without boring the advanced players.

7. Balance the Learning Curve

Don't be concerned if you don't know what a learning curve is. The learning curve is (ideally) an arc on a graph that represents how many new things the player learns and experiences as time passes.(1) Basically you want to keep introducing new things to the player in the game without introducing too many new things at a time. This includes new skills the player learns to advance, but also other new experiences that the player encounters, like learning more about the plot or exploring a new world. Anything "new" counts. How you can perfect the learning curve is to keep testing the game. Test the game on others and not just yourself. Balancing the learning curve will help to create an enjoyable and continuing experience for the players.

8. Surprise the player

Do you like surprises? Well, it depends, you may say. If you're a planner type person (as I am) then a surprise that interrupts your schedule may not be appreciated. Either way, in a video game surprises are a good thing if you use them right. Suddenly introduce a dangerous new enemy to a player without any instruction? Not really ideal, unless you're trying to appeal to mostly hard-core action gamers (consider your audience). Give the player something that they'll want to play through. Don't be timid about moving away from the basic templates of a common genres into new territories; it may be worth it.

9. Consider the players

Different from considering your potential audience, by "consider the player", I mean to draw your attention to questioning what people want to play. Basically, let others test your game and consider their suggestions. You need not be worried about what others want; if you've got a passion for game making, I think you can come up with great ideas that many others will like as well. Just consider the requests of the gamers and add to or change your game appropriately. 

There you have it. It's a long list, but it's still a list. Take a look at your own projects and imagine what would happen in you apply one or more of the above techniques to the game. Does it seem they would benefit your game? Try it out. Apply something you've learned; put it into practice. And don't forget, enjoy yourself. :)  -Amoeba of Light

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