Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Good and the Bad

So it's been a stressful week. I just lost my job recently which is bad news for me and good news for you. It means I have all the free time I want to create new posts and work on making games. Though I don't earn any money on this blog or on android so it's hard to say whether it's worth the time to invest in it. But don't worry I plan to devout time to creating posts and making games. So wish me luck, hope I find a job soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Game Goals

I've been working on some games of my own lately and I've fallen into the trap of "never-completing" a game. This is a bad position to be in, one that I have struggled with for years and I think it's intrinsic to game designers who want to make really good games. At the end of the day one finished polished product is thousands of times more valuable than having hundreds of unfinished products. Even if those products made it really far it isn't worth anything if it isn't finished.

Now we have to ask ourselves what is a finished game? I have seen a number of quotes that read something like this, "A game is finished when there is nothing left to remove". I want to say I fully understand this, however I am stuck with a mindset where I won't add anything to a game if it isn't going to be a part of the finished product. It seems like games are better suited to be developed by adding lots of features and then just weed out the unfinished or incongruous features polish whats left and then you have a game.

The Goal Line
I think one of the key things that I am doing wrong is probably a very important one. When I design a game I start from a blank slate which is good it allows pretty much anything that I am feeling or desire to enter into my game world. But then when I think about a game design I think in what seems to be a backwards sort of approach which is design a neat mechanic or think about an existing mechanic and design the game around that. I can tell you now this doesn't work.

The better approach is to come up with the goal(s) or challenge(s) the player has to overcome. This brings into play a major focus element for development and one of the most important aspects of any game. Whether the player actively asks themselves what goal they are trying to reach or not it's a fundamental aspect of game playing. This isn't saying anything about how to make great or even just good games. This is something I've struggled with when trying to make games.

Common Hinderances
I have found that I get too focused on how to reward the player in fun ways whether it be through feedback mechanisms that are very gratifying. Also whether or not a particular feature is frustrating. Both of these focuses are to be left for polish, and are secondary to coming up with a compelling goal or challenge. I believe that those two things the rewards and removing frustrations to be key elements of making "fun" games. Though if you don't have an major overall goal their just neat interaction systems without any real focus for the player and not very compelling.

As an aside an idea for a game is not even remotely close or good enough to make a game because when you go to test your idea most of the time you run into problems which you hadn't anticipated. This becomes easier over time after you've implemented your ideas. And I suppose your games will become tweaked and integrated versions of the mechanics you have experience developing.

Where to go from here?

Start with coming up with a major goal or challenge that the player must overcome and then add the fun bits such as new tools to help complete the challenge or reach the goal. Throwing in unique things to try and keep the player from their goal. Add in the little rewards like picking up items and such. Also a little note about the little things, particle effects or other types of graphical goodies are also rewarding to the player especially if their appealing to the eye. Some satisfaction is gained when a player receives "cool" feedback. Explosions are always a plus.