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Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Randy Smith

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Presentation on theme: "Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Randy Smith"— Presentation transcript:

1 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Randy Smith

2 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Takeaways A structured design process which can help: »Tailor your power-ups to your game and development environment »Improve communication and documentation Design analysis that you can apply to improve your power-up designs

3 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Scope of this Presentation We are going to talk about: »Generating ideas »Refining »Documenting We are not going to talk about: »Implementing »Tuning

4 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Action Games Only Action games, such as: »First Person Shooters »Platform »Fighting »Racing »Etc. But not: »RPGs »Adventure games »Etc.

5 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games What do I mean by “Designer”? Not (necessarily) a: »Manager »Producer »Project Director »Level Builder A game systems designer. Or a group of game systems designers.

6 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Collaboration Other disciplines: »Programmer »Artist »Producer »Audio »Director

7 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Outline of this Presentation 1.Deconstructing Power-ups 2.Brainstorming 3.Culling and Refining 4.Goals and Constraints 5.Documenting

8 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games 1)Deconstructing Power-Ups

9 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Questions About Power-Ups What are the components of a power-up? What categories of power-ups are there? Why are power-ups in games? What’s the definition? …lets look at some examples to think about these questions.

10 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Ammo Armor

11 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Cross Holy Water Stop Watch

12 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Energy Tank Morph Ball

13 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Run Silent Vision Enhancement

14 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Mushroom

15 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Hammer

16 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Components of Power-Ups Acquisition Method Storage Activation Method Delivery method Payload / Utility Deactivation method Resource Cost

17 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Doom Armor Acquisition: Collide with it Storage: N/A Activation: Upon pick-up Delivery: N/A Payload: Sets Armor=100 Deactivation: N/A Resource cost: N/A

18 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Castlevania Holy Water Acquisition: Collide with it Storage: Special Item Slot Activation: Up and Attack Delivery: Short range arc Payload: Holy water puddle Deactivation: Time out Resource cost: Hearts, Slot

19 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Deus Ex Vision Enhancement Acquisition: Augmentation Installment Process Storage: Eye Aug Slot (De-)Activation: F5 or Inventory Screen Payload: Vision mode Resource cost: Aug Power

20 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Categories of Power-Ups By Payload »Unlock Player Powers »Resource Change »Environment Manipulation »AI Manipulation »Character Manipulation By Storage »Inventory »Hands »Special Item Slot

21 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Why are Power-Ups in Games? Player Agency Player Reward Player Motivation Manage Challenge Level / Character Power Curve Player Learning Curve Unlock New Content Reinvent Gameplay

22 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Why are Power-Ups in Games? Maintain Player Interest »Player Agency »Player Reward »Player Motivation »Manage Challenge Level / Character Power Curve »Player Learning Curve »Unlock New Content »Reinvent Gameplay

23 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Definition of a Power-Up A Power-Up = An Acquired Character Benefit »Acquired – Don’t have it at the beginning of the game »Character – The player character »Benefit – Resource, Power, etc..

24 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games The development process 2) Brainstorming

25 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Goal of Brainstorming Generate a big document full of ideas. Collect lots of creative energy, don’t let it get away. Sometimes it’s OK to smoke crack. Get early feedback and info from other disciplines.

26 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Documenting Brainstorms

27 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Generating Ideas Ideas can come from »Core Fantasy »Fiction »Other Games »Understanding of Goals and Constraints »Design Philosophy

28 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games The development process 3) Culling and Refining

29 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Goal of Culling and Refining Eliminate ideas from the brainstorm list. In the process, refine your sense of your: »Design Goals »Development Constraints. Grow your ability to make informed, deliberate design decisions

30 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Cull an Idea from the Brainstorm List Someone pick an idea they don’t like Someone else flesh it out, explain it Cull the idea for any reason

31 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Culling Deconstruction Ok, now why did you cull that idea? Categorize your reason: »Development Constraints »Design Goals »Ratio of the two Keep track of this data

32 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Goals and Constraints Development Constraints »Schedule / Budget »Technology »Controller Hardware »Target Player »Etc. Design Goals »What gameplay are you trying to create?

33 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Refining Use what you’ve learned to improve the idea. »How can this idea better meet the Design Goals? »How can this idea fit within the Development Constraints? If improved, send the idea back to the brainstorm list. If not, just throw it out.

34 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games A Feedback-Intensive Process

35 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games When do you stop? When you’ve considered every idea in the brainstorm list? When enough of the ideas make the cut. What’s the right number of power- ups for your game? »Answer: Constraints and goals.

36 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games The development process 4) Goals and Constraints examples from Thief 3

37 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Ideas from Thief & Thief 2 Fire Arrow Not stealthy enough Something more utilitarian?

38 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Mine Also not stealthy, but… It’s a trap for enemies

39 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Flashbomb Too useful for attack Should be an escape tool – blinding and stunning

40 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games New Ideas Lead Arrow, Laughing Gas Too redundant with existing tools Dog Whistle Not broadly applicable enough

41 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Climbing Gloves Expensive but worth it There are vertical stone walls everywhere

42 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Cloak of Flattening Expensive and not worth it Not enough systemic applicability

43 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Thief 3 Power-Up Design Goals Reinforce core stealth gameplay Empower interesting ways for player to thwart enemies Make getting caught more fun Empower player expression via systemic interactions

44 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Thief 3 Power-Up Constraints Budget and Schedule »Reuse UI Infrastructure for Activation and Delivery – Arrows and Bombs »Avoid implementation work with little reuse (new player movement modes) »Work with existing systems instead of inventing new ones

45 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Thief 3 Power-Up Constraints Simple Interface »Reuse UI Infrastructure for Activation and Delivery – Arrows and Bombs »Keep overall number of power-ups small »Keep Payloads/Utilities orthogonal

46 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Noise Suppressor Interesting and cheap Makes simple, systemic use of existing tech

47 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games The development process 5) Documentation

48 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Goals of Documentation Formalize ideas, Write a spec Think it through Communicate with the other disciplines: »What the plan is »What they need to do to implement your power-up ideas »How they’ll know when the work is finished

49 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Principles for good design documentation Overall: »Clarity »Efficiency Use fewer words Use more visuals Target your audience(s) – hint: it isn’t you.

50 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Don’ts Defend your ideas. Emphasize fiction or design philosophy unnecessarily. Don’t ramble. Feel the need to have excruciating level of detail. »Leave stuff up to the other disciplines. »They’re in the same building as you, right? They can come talk to you.

51 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Example Documentation

52 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Why use a template? For Document Writers: »Enforce completeness »Provide direction For Document Readers: »Provide consistency

53 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Conclusion

54 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games What This Process Can Get You A well-documented set of power-up ideas tailored to your game A better understanding of your Design Goals and Development Constraints

55 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Broader Applicability With some simple translation, this can also be applied to: »Other genres »Other types of game elements (such as enemies)

56 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games What is game design about? Making informed, deliberate decisions. Working within Constraints to meet Goals. Maximizing the ratio. Communicating with other disciplines.

57 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games What are power-ups about? Empowering the player Maintaining player interest Opening up the game’s boundaries Reinventing gameplay

58 Designing Power-Ups for Action Games Randy Smith Q & A


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