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Basics of Game Design by Michael Moore

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3
CHAPTER 1
MAKING GAMES
e video game industry (lumping console, computer, and mobile
games into the same category) has grown from a hobby enjoyed by a
small cadre of technophiles into a multibillion-dollar form of enter-
tainment that appeals to players across the globe. Games have ma-
tured to the point where they now challenge such traditional forms
of entertainment as books, movies, recordings, and even television.
Never before has there been a form of entertainment where the user
gets to interact so directly with the end product, and it is this inter-
activity that attracts so many players to video games.
Some video games are relatively simple and can be played in just
a few minutes. Some are played solitarily while others are played on-
line with many players joining in. Others are much more complex
and take days or weeks to complete. ere are enough dierent kinds
of video games that everyone can nd something to amuse them-
selves for however long they wish to play.
What is it about video games that makes them so attractive?
Depending on the type of game, there are many dierent payos
for players. One player may enjoy the physical dexterity required to
make a character perform a series of wild actions—jumping over
barrels, dodging falling rocks, pulling a gun, and blasting away at the
bad guys. Another player may enjoy the mental exercise of solving a
puzzle while another fantasizes about being a famous baseball player
who empties the bases with a grand-slam home run. Still others may
enjoy the challenge of clawing their way to the top by becoming mil-
lionaire captains of industry or tycoons. ere are many dierent
ways that players can enjoy video games. In all cases, however, the
player interacts with the game via controller or keyboard/mouse to
move objects across the screen and perform various actions. is
interactivity, so unlike traditional forms of passive entertainment,
has helped make video games popular worldwide.
Making Games
4
Game Play and Game Data
e actions a player performs during a game constitute the game
play. Each game genre has its own set of actions, although many
games share common actions, such as moving objects around on
the screen. Simple games have few actions for the player to perform
while complex games can have many actions. In the classic arcade
game of Pong, for example, the players only have to move a paddle
up and down the screen to intercept a moving ball and send it y-
ing back at, and hopefully by, the other player (see Figure 1.1). In a
rst-person shooter, the primary focuses are on moving a character
through the game world and shooting AI-controlled enemies (and
sometimes other players in deathmatches). ere might be several
dierent kinds of movement—running, walking, jumping, leaning,
crouching, and so on. ere are also a number of dierent weapons
the player can collect and wield during play.
As games get more complex, the actions involved also get more
involved. In a role-playing game, for example, there are many activi-
ties for the player to perform—from exploring the world, to engag-
ing in combat, to talking with non-player characters (NPCs), to buy-
ing and selling items in stores, to solving puzzles. Some simulation
games let players imagine they are ying aircra or driving racecars
while others allow players to build nancial empires. In such com-
plex games, there is much for the player to do and many decisions to
make. ese complex games can be played repeatedly because each
ending is dierent from previous plays thanks to the multiplicity of
events happening in the game world.
Simple and Complex Designs
In all cases, whether in simple or complex games, it is the designer
who has the responsibility of determining how game play works. In
simple games, the designer oen works directly with the program-
mers to decide how events occur in the game—from the speed of the
ping pong ball moving across the screen, to how quickly the paddle
reacts to a player’s movement, to how much force is applied to the
ball by the paddle upon contact, and so on. Simple games oen rely
on randomization to keep from becoming too predictable, and the
designer has little control over the element of chance except to spec-
ify the probabilities of events occurring.

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