Game Design Thoughts

January 24, 2017 at 4:43 pm / by

I discovered that i did not had too much clue about how to design a good platform or topdown 2d game before digging into the game maker tool Stencyl. While experimenting with my first prototypes and researching a couple of years ago i was very surprised how much wrong design decisions can make it into a game like that. Let me sum up some of the most useful inspirations i found which helped me a lot.

1. Game & General design

Diorgo Jonkers from sums up the basics very well in this article:

1. Keep the user interface simple
2. Make important information easy to see
3. Mind your collision boundaries
4. Make it easy to jump over gaps (in case you use physics)
5. Make it possible to change animation states anytime, anywhere
6. Provide plenty of power-ups and collectables
7. Write generic, but versatile AI
8. Have a story and atmosphere in mind
9. Define scope and time clearly
10. Prototype before finalising theoretical fun
11. Involve everyone in the team in the design

Check out the blog. The old article Game Design Secrets of the Greggman is a nice checklist for you and acts as an inspiration to push your game design. The focus is on platform and action adventure games.

2. Level design

Radek Koncewicz and who is the Creative Lead of Incubator Games compiled some helpful super-mario-bros-3-level-design-lessons (PartI and PartII). They act as a nice way to understand level design decisions and how players will handle them. There is also a detailed description of the beginning of word 4-2 in Super Mario on auntie pixelante which shows how meachnics can be used in a total different way the player learned it.

Diorgo Jonkers from compiled a helpful list (how-to-design-levels-for-a-platformer) for level design as well guiding you through the obstacles of level design.

1. Choose a visual theme
2. Make a list
3. Make a rough layout
4. Make rough sketches for the specific items
5. Make a detailed layout
6. Build the initial layout
7. Play the level
8. Decorate the level

Finally take a look at Sequelitis – Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X from Egoraptor.
He walks you through one level of Mega Man X and describes how the developers teach the player how to play the game without tutorials and interruptions.

3. Difficulty

I did not aim for difficulty like in Super Meat Boy but it is very interesting to understand the thoughts the design behind this game described in the article ‘Why So Hard?’ on Gamasutra. McMillen questions the old formula “(Percent chance the player will die) X (Penalty for dying) = Difficulty” and analyses various games and how they handle difficulty.

Rodain Joubert sorts the topic into various rules:

  1. You are, without fail, the best at your own games.
  2. Play nice, and give your player the information they deserve.

Remember that while making a game too difficult is possibly one of the quickest ways to drive players away, making it too easy also has its drawbacks.

I found this bosses guide of Metroid : Zero Mission very helpful to get inspiration for designing boss fights.







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