They All Want You Dead
Video games are populated with a plethora of beings that want to kill you: aliens and androids, pirates and parasites, mercenaries and mushroom people. However, I realize not every video game features slobbering, sword-wielding enemies—often they use guns too!
Yes, yes. I realize that plenty of other video games use other forms of conflict, such as time, human competitors, or even the players’ own skill, to challenge the players. But I’m not talking about those types of games.1 As I flip back to Level 3, I am reminded of three types of conflict found in stories: man versus nature (like a hurricane or a giant white whale); man versus self (where the hero is struggling with an internal issue such as “where to go for lunch”2); and man versus man, or in the case of video games, man versus zombie or man versus ninja pirate or man versus hideous-alien-creature-made-from-the-skins-of-your-dead-crewmates.
Those are the types of enemies I talk about here. While zombies and ninja pirates and alien thingee enemies are great fun to design, you first need to follow this very important golden rule:
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
Hey! I saw you trying to design that winged skeleton enemy without thinking about how he’s going to attack.3 Put down the pencil as I repeat ...