O'Reilly logo

Basics of Game Design by Michael Moore

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

23
CHAPTER 2
GAME PLAY AND
GAME MECHANICS
In the last chapter there was frequent mention of game play” and
game mechanics,but there was no denition of what those terms
mean. In this chapter, the focus is on the elements that make up game
play and how the designer needs to dene those elements in detail in
the game documentation.
Too oen, a novice designer spends more time in design docu-
ments on story development rather than on how things will actu-
ally work in the game world. How the elements of game play hang
together is assumed instead of discussed. So, the novice designer
might simply mention in passing that there is a combat system with-
out explaining exactly how it works. is approach leaves the burden
of actual design to the programming sta, and the nal product may
wind up completely dierent from what the designer had in mind.
On the other hand, experienced designers can get so wrapped
up in the minutia of how things work they wind up handcung the
programming team, who may have some very good ideas on how
things should work in the game. An initial game design document
that is too detailed can be tiresome to read, and much of its con-
tents is likely to change during production. As work continues on the
project, the design document can and should be modied to accom-
modate changes to actual game play.
Game Play and the “Fun Factor”
When starting work on a game, the most important question the de-
signer should ask is: What will the player do during the game that is
fun? Obviously, customers buy a game because they feel it will keep
them busy and make them happy for a time. ere are actions the
Game Play and Game Mechanics
24
player performs that are fun, and these are the actions the player wants to
do most oen. Other actions are not as much fun, but they are necessary as
precursors to the fun actions. Some of the “fun” actions in games are:
Exploring unknown areas.
Resolving combat situations.
Finding treasures.
Building things.
Destroying things.
Interacting with characters in the game world.
Living through a story.
Solving puzzles.
Manipulating resources.
Piloting aircra.
Driving fast-moving cars.
Playing a sport.
e other actions that are less fun are oen needed to prepare for a
fun action. e player is willing to perform these actions in antici-
pation that they will lead to later, more interesting, more enjoyable
actions. Some of these less interesting actions include:
Inventory management.
Buying and selling game objects.
Bookkeeping.
Retracing ones steps through previously explored areas.
Managing a sports team with trades and salary negotiations.
Reloading a saved game.
Breaking out the manual to look for an obscure control input.
e designer, of course, wants to maximize the fun factor time and
minimize the drudgery for players. It is not possible to make every-
thing fun all the time. Many complex games have a steep learning
curve where players have to learn all the interactions in the game
and the control scheme for each one. In such cases, it is oen best to
teach players a few lessons at a time in a tutorial system that extends
over several hours of play.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required