Designing video games can be a difficult challenge. You may need to plan out exactly what the player will do while figuring out how to challenge them and keep them interested. You’ll need to design puzzles, enemies or other obstacles to keep the game fresh. Some designers spend hours just ensuring that the enemies will behave in the expected way to provide a consistent player experience. All of this time and effort results in a game where every aspect feels very intentionally planned out and meticulously designed, which can be a very good thing. But what if you could just let your game design itself? Rather than design every single thing in your game, let the systems take over and play themselves, making way for emergent gameplay.
Don’t you just love it when something looks pretty? When there is a cool image that just pops out and catches your eye? So do most gamers. In fact, with the latest advancements in the game industry, aesthetics have been a major focal point when attracting new audiences. No doubt that this strategy of showing off pretty aesthetics at conferences is an excellent form of promotion for the game, so long as they show those aesthetics in action. In this discussion, I’m going to go over what aesthetics offer the overall game and how important aesthetics are as a whole.
Hey, what’s up? My name is Jordan Leong, the newest Student Ambassador here at UAT. This is currently my third semester and I am pursuing a Bachelor in Game Design degree. A few fun facts about me is that I am addicted to character creation, both in video games and on paper. There’s just something about creating people or creatures that just show off how creative you are or even show how deep in thought you can get. So obviously, I’m naturally imaginative, spewing out ideas left and right. This trait makes me really talkative, so keeping a conversation is not hard. Other than that, I’m another geek who fits in with everyone else here, talking about games and anime.
Game development is an iterative process, and while this does grant you a good amount of freedom to experiment with new ideas. How much time you devote to each iteration is extremely important since each one inevitably costs you development time, so separating ideas that work from ones that don't quickly becomes paramount. Obviously you won't always know that what you're attempting is in fact a poor decision until you test it out, and there's no shame in that; sometimes things simply aren't as fun as you imagined they would be. More importantly just because the concept is bad in the current game you're working on doesn't always mean its a bad idea in general so you can keep it around until you find a better place for it later. Where there is a serious issue though, is when you've convinced yourself certain aspects of the game must work no matter what. What is important isn't whether or not you personally like the concept, but rather: 1. Whether the concept works in the first place. 2. Does it play well with the game thematically and in tone. 3. Finally whether other people agree that the mechanic is fun within the scope of the game. The final one is one of the parts that can get you into trouble, because to often people will hear feedback along the lines of "Well this thing is fun, but it doesn't feel like it fits." From that feedback the instinct might be to make sure it gets into the game period because you were told its "fun" but even then you may only end up muddying the game.
If you haven't already read through my review of Firewatch or simply played the game, then you can do so here. Just to be certain though, even though the title should be a pretty blunt about it this will contain spoilers. End of warnings:
Firewatch is a game unlike most you’ve probably ever played. If you really love big action, life and death decisions, and feeling like you’re in control then this is decidedly not the game for you. Firewatch is a game about loss, escape, isolation, and a solitary connection through a walkie talkie. You play as Henry, a middle aged man who is at a crossroads in his life. His wife has come down with a serious illness and her care has been taken away from him by her family. His life in a downward spiral Henry takes a job out in the middle of a National Park in Wyoming to get away from everything. There he “meets” Deliah, his supervisor and with very few exceptions the only other person Henry talks to the whole game.
For those unaware, Gametrailers.com is (or rather was) a gaming website dedicated to bringing news, videos, and reviews to the masses. While hosting trailers was always nice as per their namesake, it was some of their other content that had kept me going back for years. They had original shows such as Pop Fiction which explored the sometimes strange and wonderful world of gaming myths; Retrospectives covering the history of storied game franchises, and many others. Gametrailers was special to me partially because it was on that site that I saw the developer diary that made me finally decide I wanted to be a developer.
As a developer, there will be times that you will need to pitch a game to a group of producers, investors, peers, etc. Over the past few days I've watched quite a few pitches from my peers for various games without a variety of results. Frankly there are many things that you should be thinking about in this situation to help make your pitch a success. A presentation of some kind helps, games are a visual medium so your presentation should be visual as well. Yet you could get by without one, though I would certainly say it's not recommended. You could have a working prototype of your game that you put together from pre-existing material so people could potentially play the game to get an idea before hand. Once again though, it's extremely helpful but not always an entirely possible route to take. There is though one thing that I would say is absolutely indispensable when you are pitching a new game: excitement.