Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Elements of Game Design~ part one

Game Design is the art of designing a game, to put it simply. Many responsibilities accompany such a task, and in my opinion, talent plays a big part. A Game Designer needs to be a good artist, writer, have a great imagination and a greater understanding of 'fun'. What the player wants.

Chris Crawford was a game designer in the 1980s and he had a few interesting points about what 'game' and 'play' actually was. He described a game to be an art form even, because:
"Art is something designed to evoke emotion through fantasy. The artist
presents his audience with a set of sensory experiences that
stimulates commonly shared fantasies, and so generates emotions."
 Back in the 1980s, games weren't very visually enhanced. I mean, you had pac man and missile command. The programmers were the ones to decide what things looked like.

However, today things are a little different. You have much more of a visual stimulation, it plays a much bigger roll in games. Compare Space Invaders to Star Wars, The force unleashed for example. Which would you choose if both sat side by side on a shelf? (imagining you'd not played either) When you walk into a game shop what's the first thing that atrracts you to pick up a game. Is it not the pretty pictures on the cover? Do you flip it over to see more pretty pictures on the back? All the time making estimates about how the game plays through it's visual style.

Fable. Man this game looks awesome!
Yes this is all well and said but when it comes to actual content and gameplay within a videogame, i wonder if many things have changed at all. I'll use Pac Man again, where the aim of the game is to collect the dots and avoid the ghosts within a maze-like environment. And now look at Mario, where the aim of the game, again, is to collect and avoid. You have the princess at the end and a few more extras but the principle is very similar. Especially when it comes to shoot 'em ups or FPSs, where the clue is in the title. Fantasy RPGs aswell where you choose a character (more than likely you have elf, human, ork etc) level them up and explore. Stuff like that. My point is, games are very similar to one another whether it be a card game, strategy, children's game, board game or video game. Within their elements the aim is almost allways the same. When it comes to video game, I think the major factor that seperates them is artistic style and storyline.

 The Game Designer has to come up with a game that brings new ideas to the table but still holding a grip on how to make the player entertained.
But of course, the Designer isn't the only one responsible for the final outcome of a game. Back in the day, it only took a team or 5 or so people to create a game. Nowadays it takes a team of many more because there is alot more to do and people have fell into the specifics like game art, programming, animating or production.
Generally how it works is, a game company recieves a Design Document from a certain game's designer and the company has a certain deadline and contract in which to create this game, aswell as a budget. First comes the planning, then the concept art and initial 3D ideas. The programmers then come and make everything work and the animators get right on to the cut scenes... (cut a long story short) the game is complete and everyone's happy. It's not allways that smooth but you get the idea.

So i guess the designer is the big guy with the idea and everyone else are like lil worker bees putting this idea together... huh. I wanna be a games designer.

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