Image for post
Image for post

A game design tool based on in-game morals

There has been an on-going discussion for years on the influence of games on society. One side protests that video games stimulate aggressive behavior and normalize violence (Grossman and DeGaetano, 2014). According to this line of thought, killing (human) beings in a video game should trigger a negative reaction from gamers. As the opposite happens, players have fun and amuse themselves while playing such games, it is understood that their morals and values have been damaged.

On the other side, violent media, including games, use a strategy called moral management that allows its viewers (and players) to cope with its contents without conflicting with their own values and not becoming permanently violent (Klimmt et al., …


Image for post
Image for post

Empowerment, deadlocks, and a small mathematical analysis

A game's economy is an internal system within a game responsible for all the mechanisms related to the game's resources [1]. In the game’s economy, the term resource is very open and comprises concepts from collectible items (such as coins) to the player’s journey itself. In general, a resource is any concept that can be measured numerically [1]. (For a more in-depth analysis on resources, refer to this previous article).

Resources are handled by the game's economy using 4 basic mechanisms (or 4 pillars), which are: Sources, that create resources out of nothing according to a production rate; Drains, which eliminate resources from the game permanently; Converters, that convert resources into others of different types according to a conversion rate; and, Traders, which trade resources among different entities in the game, such as Players or NPCs [1]. …


Image for post
Image for post

How narrative theory can be used to improve game design

Final Fantasy IX is a JRPG released in July of 2000 by Squaresoft. It marks a return to the first Final Fantasy games' medieval style, which had been changed to a more futurist setting in Final Fantasy VII and VIII and then became dominant from Final Fantasy X onwards.

Final Fantasy IX plot is centered on the consequences of a war between nations. Besides the theme of warfare and its outcomes to society, the game deals with other issues such as trauma, the search for meaning in life, and the struggles to accept mortality.

The game's main cast is composed of 8 (arguably) memorable characters. While Zidane is the protagonist and main hero of the story, most of the plot is driven around the deuteragonist, princess Garnet Til Alexandros XVII. …


Image for post
Image for post

Or how a resource's significance goes beyond scores and gold

Paraphrasing Salen, Tekinbaş, and Zimmerman in Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals (2004), a game is a system defined by rules in which players engage in a conflict to achieve a quantifiable outcome. The latter determines the goal and decides which player(s) won. Having a goal is a core difference from a game to other less formal play activities.

For example, running playfully is engaging and fun, but it is not a game per se. However, it can be transformed into a game by adding a goal and a conflict: whoever runs to the pizzeria wins. …


Image for post
Image for post
Irises, by Vincent van Gogh (1889) [from USEUM]

In his book, Fundamentals of Game Design (2004), Ernest Adams establishes that most games have an internal economy: a system in which game resources are produced, consumed, and exchanged. The complexity and importance of this internal economy, or simply the game's economy, varies from game to game. Even more, if they belong to different genres. [1]

The game's economy encompasses the game's resources and mechanics manipulated by the players. A resource is any concept that can be measured numerically [2]. (For a more in-depth analysis on the subject of resources, refer to this previous article)

In short, almost anything in a game can be a resource. Elements controlled by the player and concepts that influence the game state are commonly understood as resources. Contrarily, fixed level design elements, such as walls and platforms, are (usually) not considered as such. As stated earlier, the understanding of an element as a resource or not depends on the game. …


Image for post
Image for post
Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Granicus against the Persians, by Cornelis Troost (1737) [from USEUM]

The Bartle’s Player Types is a well-known theory to categorize players according to their motivations to play games, particularly multiplayer games. The theory divides players into 4 specific types: Achievers — which look for in-game defined goals; Explorers — who delight in exploring the inner workings of the game; Socializers — which use the game as a tool to socialize with other players; and, Killers — which use the game to dominate others.

While three of the types are well-defined and easy to spot in games, the Killer player type is quite complicated and even controversial. …


Image for post
Image for post
Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1835) [from USEUM]

Level Design is one of the key activities in Game Development. As stated by Adams, E., in his book Fundamentals of Game Design (2014): Level Design is the process of using game elements to construct the players’ experience [1].

However, level designing is a hard task. A good level needs a clear goal and clear instructions. Simultaneously, it must allow players to explore the possibilities and play with the game mechanics freely. Furthermore, it should not open the possibilities too much and create doubt, hindering creativity.

As an analogy, if you were to reach a game stage that presents you with a couple of tools and locked doors, you would naturally try the tools, combining their characteristics and examining the possibilities to open the doors. On the other hand, if there were hundreds of different tools and devices instead, and even more locked doors, just the thought of testing all of the possible combinations would pull you away from the game. …


Image for post
Image for post
The Eel Gatherers, by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1865) [from USEUM]

I have been teaching game design for over five years now, and the biggest struggle I see game design students have is planning and organizing their initial ideas. Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets, and worse: even if there were, it would hardly work for every one of us. The creative process is simply too individual, and we build it toward ourselves.

However, there are processes and guidelines on how to approach the initial steps in game designing. It is beneficial to experiment with them. In this article, I propose a simple yet effective way of analyzing your game idea and structuring its first elements. …


Image for post
Image for post
Street in Roskilde. In the Background of the Cathedral, by Jørgen Roed (1836) [from USEUM]

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the most recent movie from Charlie Kaufman, the writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, both highly acclaimed film. Kaufman is known for writing dream-like stories in which characters dwell in a surreal reality, struggling over a sense of connection and identity.

It is not different in this recent installment, that tells the story of a couple going on a road trip to the man’s parents house. The story's arcs are mostly structured throughout the journey. The first act is the travel forward. The second takes place during their stay in the parent’s farmhouse. …


Image for post
Image for post
Landscape, by T.C. Steele (1909) [from USEUM]

Instructive Level Design is an approach to teach players about the game’s rules, mechanics, and patterns while playing the game. It is opposed to traditional games, such as board games, in which the mechanics and its aspects are presented through a rulebook or other written medium.

Some games implement the instructive level design approach by using visual elements, as a “show, don’t tell” style. As stated in a previous article, this approach is also known as Miyamoto’s Level Design.

Moreover, game designers use instructive level design to teach players about the upcoming challenges, streamlining the game’s difficulty. A common approach is to introduce a smaller version of a challenge before it takes place. …

About

Yvens Serpa

I'm a Brazilian teacher currently working at Saxion University (Enschede, NL) for CMGT. I write every day for education, programming, and as a hobby. [@yvensre]

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store