Game DESIGN is far harder than game TECH!

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by zoombapup, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. meds

    meds New Member

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    I thought the reason indie devs didn't share business data was because they didn't have much business data to share?

    Larger companies loath to share anything, tech or business data.
     
  2. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    For SURE gamedesign is harder than "pure coding". Otherwise everyone releasing a game would make lot of money.
    I'm seeing a precise trend, where (at least in casual space) the best gamedesigner make the real money. Just an example, Amanda using ready made tools like RPGMaker XP or hiring coders to do a HOG and ending up in top5 of BFG :cool:
     
  3. Mattias Gustavsson

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    @Jack: Well put!
     
  4. BarrySlisk

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    @Applewood
    I feel exactly the same. This is not the first time we agree. You are a very special person :)
     
  5. Vino

    Vino New Member

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    Okay I've been too busy in the last couple days to participate in this discussion so hopefully it hasn't left me behind, but here are my thoughts:

    * Game design is one of the hardest parts of game development because of the reasons previously stated. It's also one of the most time consuming because of the amount of time required to iterate through the game, play through it again and again and find the things that are wrong and fix them. For this reason, one of the biggest mistakes I've made in the past and I think a lot of game designers make is not allocating enough time in the planning stages for design. It easily takes up half of my time if not more, including business things like marketing and pr. (But not including things like art since I contract that out.)

    * There are some reliable solutions to design problems and many of them come by applying the same couple techniques. I've found a couple tried-and-true techniques for adding fun into an otherwise dull mechanic. They mostly involve tradeoffs and risk-reward type things. For example, in first person shooters players can zoom at the cost of movement speed and peripheral vision, a classic fps tradeoff. RPG's have powerful magic spells, but magic classes are weaker physically, another classic tradeoff. The nice armor guns and equipment are always at the end of a difficult section, you don't find the best shit sitting around out in the open and you don't start with it either.

    * Since game design is subjective there may not be a 100% definite solution to any problem, but there's a well-defined process for getting there. It's an iterative process where every step incrementally improves the game, but it's functional and given enough time I think it can effectively solve any design problem. I'm sure you all use the method, it involves playing the game, identifying what's good and what's bad, cutting out the bad and improving on the good.

    * Game design can also be iffy because it incorporates and effects a lot of other areas, it relies on everything to be in place. For example, any new feature must have associated assets such as sound and art, it must playtested for funness, any bugs must be identified and fixed, any associated text must be edited and localized, and so on. Any game designer is also part artist programmer and producer.

    * At its core, a game is entertainment and therefore it works similarly to any other form of entertainment, in that it's all about a buildup and release of energy. In music, songs may alternate energetic refrains with quieter verses. In drama, the classic Greek tragedies begin on a positive note, quickly devolve into hopelessness, and then pull themselves back together in the third act. In writing, a story may through a series of high-energy conflicts separated by low-energy dialogue and plot development. Similarly, video games benefit from alternating the energy level. Levels start easy and get hard. Shooters have bursts of combat and then puzzle solving. RPG's have talking and then fighting and then talking again. Strategy games have resource-management/fleet-buildup, and then combat. I think this is a core element in game design.

    I think it's one of the most fun parts of game development, because it's the hardest. Sorry about the wall of text.
     
  6. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Why thank you, I'm blushing now! :)

    I only rejoined this thread to see whoe won the flamewar that was about to start!
     
  7. Olofson

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    Flamewar? Did I miss something...!? :D

    Seriously, I believe we can all agree that everything is hard if you want to do it really well - and you have to do it all really well to make a truly great game! :)
     
  8. meds

    meds New Member

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    You can make a game that looks bad with good gameplay and people might still like it though...
     
  9. Olofson

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    I should probably have said "a perfect game" rather than "a truly great game".

    A truly great game can indeed have some components that are strong enough to make up for various deficiencies to some extent, but that doesn't mean the game couldn't be even greater with some more work.

    That said, it's easy to lose the "magic" through over-producing...

    Speaking of which, not everyone prefers the new graphics that came with Kobo Deluxe 0.5.0. Most do, but I've had the occasional request to make the old lowres retro graphics available as an option. Dunno if it's due to my lacking skills as a graphics artist, or if the new graphics is just too polished for some old fans. :)

    Old/New - and the new version also includes five different themes for the bases.

    Uhm... Some up to date screenshots on the official site might be in place, maybe...? :D
     
  10. vjvj

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    Exactly. For most design decisions, you start with a blank slate with no clear direction. And worse, all of the design elements are interdependent. You might feel like you've got some really good mechanics defined and everything plays great, and then you have to make one tiny change to something like enemy bullet speeds, and that completely breaks everything and you have to start over. So even though you can reference "known solutions" from other games, the data doesn't really mean jack because it's dependent on all the other variables.

    AND most of the decisions you make have no intuitive basis in reality, either. Which is why you end up with one game where the character run speed is 16 km/h and the jump height is 1.5 m and gravity is 9.8 m/sec, while your next game could have a human run speed of 45 km/h and a jump height of 20 m and gravity that's 3x that of Earth's. And they both play great. (And people have the nerve to call marketing "bullshit"... We're the ones with humans running around as fast as cars! :)).

    If we expand this discussion to handle the entire business, I totally agree. Business is definitely the scariest part of all this for me. I've been going through some of the books Morgan Ramsay suggested to us and I'm finding that 90% of the assumptions I made about business/marketing/sales are flat out WRONG.

    So I agree that being a jack of all trades should be the ultimate goal for a self-publishing indie. You just can't afford to overlook ANYTHING. Everything is difficult and requires expertise.
     
  11. meds

    meds New Member

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    I don't know how I put easier there :confused:
     
  12. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Yeah, I've seen better. :)
     
  13. Mattias Gustavsson

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    You've participated in better :D
     
  14. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Shit, I usually start em...
     
  15. vjvj

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    I thought for sure that you and I having the first two responses would guarantee a shit storm. Maybe we're losing our touch! :)
     
  16. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Absolutely! :)

    I promise, the next guy posting "I want to make an MMO, what graphics engine do I need on the server?" is gonna get both barrels!
     
  17. Backov

    Original Member

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    Great thread!

    Also, I want to make an MMO, what graphics engine do I use on the server?
     
  18. Jasmine

    Jasmine New Member

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    You forgot to mention how you've (more or less) made a two player naughts and crosses game in a C++ console window, so are an experienced programmer.
     
  19. meds

    meds New Member

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    They gave us a task like that in uni, I distinctly remember not being able to do it. I'm still not sure how I'd go about doing it.
     
  20. joe

    joe
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    I think that a lot of indie game devs are paying too less attention to the game design/gameplay.

    Big or established studios have game designers. Indie Devs are often coders who think they can come up with a good design - but (often) they can't.

    If I personally look back when I wrote Absolute Blue for example I can't believe how many, many, many wrong decisions I made regarding the gamplay / level design / game design. Back then, when I've wrote it I tought I knew how to make a great shoot'em'up.

    I even got feedback from players like "stages are too long", "the powerups appearing to often", "leveldesign is crappy" ... But instead of improving these things I worked on better looking particles and a nicer interface. If I would do it today I would paying more attention towards gamedesign.
     

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