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Grumpy Cat’s Guide to Game Design “The Beauty of No” MMenard, DEC 2015 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Grumpy Cat’s Guide to Game Design “The Beauty of No” MMenard, DEC 2015 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grumpy Cat’s Guide to Game Design “The Beauty of No” MMenard, DEC

2 Grumpy Cat’s Guide to Game Design “This is going to suck.” MMenard, DEC

3 This is Grumpy Cat She is a cat. MMenard, DEC

4 This is Grumpy Cat She is a cat. She is a girl cat. MMenard, DEC

5 This is Grumpy Cat She is a cat. She is a girl cat. Her name is Tardar Sauce. MMenard, DEC

6 This is Grumpy Cat She is a cat. She is a girl cat. Her name is Tardar Sauce. She is a top-class game designer who hates your sloppy and lazy designs and wants you to burn for your sins against humanity.* *Personal views expressed by Grumpy Cat are not shared or endorsed by Artemic Games. MMenard, DEC

7 Best DragonCon Picture EVER! I am a designer. Me and Orko, chillin’. MMenard, DEC

8 Best DragonCon Picture EVER! I am a designer. I am a girl designer. Me and Orko, chillin’. MMenard, DEC

9 Best DragonCon Picture EVER! I am a designer. I am a girl designer. My name is Michelle. Me and Orko, chillin’. MMenard, DEC

10 Best DragonCon Picture EVER! I am a designer. I am a girl designer. My name is Michelle. I used to work for Zynga and Firaxis, then started my own company, wrote a book on Unity, got an MFA in game design, became a Countess of Sealand, and have only 3 Pokémon left to catch, not exactly in that order.* Me and Orko, chillin’. *Seriously, if you have a Darkrai I will pay you cash monies for it. MMenard, DEC

11 This is Pokey. Pokey is Grumpy Cat’s brother. MMenard, DEC

12 This is Pokey. Pokey is Grumpy Cat’s brother. For this exercise, we’re going to assume he makes lots of bad design decisions and needs to be reminded of some basics. MMenard, DEC

13 This is Pokey. Pokey is Grumpy Cat’s brother. For this exercise, we’re going to assume he makes lots of bad design decisions and needs to be reminded of some basics. Grumpy Cat likes to do this in sarcastic internet memes.* *Sorry Pokey, nothing personal. MMenard, DEC

14 Respecting the Player “You seem to hate your players more than I do. Well done.” MMenard, DEC

15 All characters will have 10 different backstories, 50 weapons, 1000 skills, and 6 responses to any dialogue question. I’m a genius.  Having lots of options and choice points seems like a great idea.  Choices = Fun!  Choices = Customization!  Choices = Replayability!  So Lots of Choices = ALL THE FUN!  Having lots of options and choice points seems like a great idea.  Choices = Fun!  Choices = Customization!  Choices = Replayability!  So Lots of Choices = ALL THE FUN! MMenard, DEC

16 Games are about meaningful choice.  The game must RESPOND to the player’s choice.  A Choice is only a meaningful choice if the outcome DOES something and actively affects the game state.  How meaningful it is depends on the size and scope of the response.  What does it affect?  Game Progression?  Player Immersion?  Basic Gameplay? MMenard, DEC

17 Games are about meaningful choice.  Too many options can lead to choice paralysis.  4 hours in a character creator?  What’s name?!  I have 1000 skills to put into only 8 slots?! MMenard, DEC

18 Games are about meaningful choice.  Too many choices can also lead to confusing system design.  Wait…how many status effects do we have to build counters and heals for?  What’s the difference again between Paralyze/Disable/Stop/Freeze ?  Has anyone seen the story tree? I have no idea where this node goes after picking choices A>B>E>D>A>D. MMenard, DEC

19 Games are about meaningful choice.  Too many choices can lead to scope-explosions, rarely-seen content, and waste of dev time and money.  Designing for replayability is fine, but know what you’re getting into before jumping down that rabbit hole. Know the facts.  Only 10 – 20% of players ever finish a game.  Be smart where you put branching content (if any). Most people won’t see it. MMenard, DEC

20 MMenard, DEC Meaningless Choices

21 MMenard, DEC Meaningless Choices

22 Pfft. I’m the designer. You fools know nothing. MY code has zero bugs.  The game is perfect and reflects my vision exactly. Anyone who disagrees is wrong. End of story.  The Players don’t know anything. They don’t know what they want. Just ignore them.  The game is perfect and reflects my vision exactly. Anyone who disagrees is wrong. End of story.  The Players don’t know anything. They don’t know what they want. Just ignore them. MMenard, DEC

23 Players are your customers. Don’t ignore them.  When someone submits a bug or feedback, don’t dismiss it immediately.  Players submit feedback because they like your game and want it to be better. If they actually hate it they wouldn’t have taken the trouble. MMenard, DEC

24 Players are your customers. Don’t ignore them.  When someone submits a bug or feedback, don’t dismiss it immediately.  Players submit feedback because they like your game and want it to be better. If they actually hate it they wouldn’t have taken the trouble.  Seriously, if a player is spending hours on your forums, even if he spends most of it trash talking, he does it because he does have emotions for your game. If he really didn’t care he’d be off doing something else. MMenard, DEC

25 Players are your customers. Don’t ignore them.  Don’t just read the text of the bug. Read into the Causes.  Players can identify when something is wrong or bothers them, but they may not clearly know why. That’s your job – they don’t know the system like you do.  Identify the root cause of the issue and address that – it’s not necessarily the same thing as written on the bug report. MMenard, DEC

26 MMenard, DEC Ignoring Player Feedback

27 MMenard, DEC Ignoring Player Feedback

28 Players are pansies, not like back in my day when we failed and we LIKED IT.  Games used to be harder. Only real gamers played them and finished them.  Gamers today are spoonfed and lazy.  I’ll show them.  Games used to be harder. Only real gamers played them and finished them.  Gamers today are spoonfed and lazy.  I’ll show them. MMenard, DEC

29 The Player is not the Enemy.  Your goal as a game designer is NOT to outsmart the player and prove how clever you are. MMenard, DEC

30 The Player is not the Enemy.  Your goal as a game designer is NOT to outsmart the player and prove how clever you are. MMenard, DEC

31 The Player is not the Enemy.  When you or your computer is having more fun than your player, there’s a problem.  Yes your simulation might be amazing to behold – but who’s having the fun? Your amazing algorithm skills or Bob the Beta Tester? MMenard, DEC

32 The Player is not the Enemy.  Let the player be clever and explore different possibilities. Don’t punish them for trying.  Multiple solutions to a problem is a good thing. Let the player discover options you didn’t dream of.  Simple to Learn, Depth to Master. MMenard, DEC

33 MMenard, DEC Treating the Player like an Enemy

34 MMenard, DEC Treating the Player like an Enemy

35 What’s wrong with grind? It separates the real players from the noobs and casuals.  Grind is an easy way to extend the length of my game. And it’s hardcore!  If it’s too easy to get everything, then it’ll be boring and stupid.  And it’s TOTALLY more realistic if it takes a time to get anywhere or get anything. You don’t see me teleporting to my office in the morning.  Grind is an easy way to extend the length of my game. And it’s hardcore!  If it’s too easy to get everything, then it’ll be boring and stupid.  And it’s TOTALLY more realistic if it takes a time to get anywhere or get anything. You don’t see me teleporting to my office in the morning. MMenard, DEC

36 The Player’s Time is precious. Don’t waste it on meaningless things.  You as a designer are vying for the same asset that every other designer is – TIME.  There is only a finite time in a day, a week, a given game’s lifespan. Don’t squander it.  (remember how many people finish games?) MMenard, DEC

37 The Player’s Time is precious. Don’t waste it on meaningless things.  Decide what systems you want your player to interact with more.  Are they important to progression?  What do they provide?  Is it really just a secondary system?  Here’s looking at you fast travel! MMenard, DEC

38 The Player’s Time is precious. Don’t waste it on meaningless things.  Having players spend time on a system is not innately bad – but makes sure it’s the RIGHT one.  What’s better – having to spend time mastering crafting to unlock awesome recipes or spending the same amount of time walking between two cities?  What system provides more meaningful choices – let the payer spend time there. MMenard, DEC

39 MMenard, DEC Wasting Player Time

40 MMenard, DEC Wasting Player Time

41 Come on guys, it’s not that hard – this sequence of 30 quick time events is a cakewalk. Clearly you’re not trying.  Teaching through gameplay is good I hear.  I need to make sure the player gets it right before they progress.  Did I mention it’s a pass-fail course?  Teaching through gameplay is good I hear.  I need to make sure the player gets it right before they progress.  Did I mention it’s a pass-fail course? MMenard, DEC

42 Failure is good. So is succeeding.  Allowing the player to fail is a good thing, it allows for exploration, choice, and expression.  But remember there needs to be a point to failure.  Did they learn new information about the system?  Are they gaining new skills that are important to progression?  Are there degrees of possible failure and possible success? Does the player need to get it PERFECT? MMenard, DEC

43 Failure is good. So is succeeding.  Also be aware of possible choke points in your game and add in failure fail-safes.  If your core systems are about this nifty combat arena, don’t perma-fail your player with a side system (like a quick time event.)  Players can get frustrated if they fail continuously and the system does nothing to respond to it or correct for it. This leads to rage quits. MMenard, DEC

44 MMenard, DEC Pointless Failure

45 MMenard, DEC Pointless Failure

46 Ugh, my system is so unbalanced. Gawd. WoW’s balance is sooo much better.  There is only one way to balance a system, doesn’t matter what kind of game it is.  Like, Balancing combat for a single player or multiplayer game is totally the same thing. It’s just combat in the end.  There is only one way to balance a system, doesn’t matter what kind of game it is.  Like, Balancing combat for a single player or multiplayer game is totally the same thing. It’s just combat in the end. MMenard, DEC

47 Balance is subjective. WHO are you balancing for?  Determine the parameters for balancing before you start out – every game is going to be different.  What economies are important? The MOST important?  What would an OP skill in this game actually do? What would it break?  What and who are you balancing FOR? Fun, profit, kids, hardcores, casuals? MMenard, DEC

48 Balance is subjective. WHO are you balancing for?  Single player games are not multiplayer games. Don’t balance them the same.  Player vs System  Reward skill, cleverness, time devoted  Let the player become awesome.  Player vs Player  Rewards are more intrinsic – don’t need to add as many artificially.  System instead needs to account for gimmicks and anything else that breaks the illusion of fairness. MMenard, DEC

49 MMenard, DEC One-Size-Fits-All Balance

50 MMenard, DEC One-Size-Fits-All Balance

51 Respecting the Medium “Games != movies != books != theatre != music != story time with gramps” MMenard, DEC

52 My game has 80 hours of cutscenes. It’s beautiful.  Players love pretty graphics, so I’m going to dump tons of money into these cutscenes.  They help tell my story too.  And it’s a marketing point. Win!  Players love pretty graphics, so I’m going to dump tons of money into these cutscenes.  They help tell my story too.  And it’s a marketing point. Win! MMenard, DEC

53 Games are interactive. Movies are passive.  Don’t get so bogged down in pretty presentation that you forget :  Games are interactive. They are about Player Choice. MMenard, DEC

54 Games are interactive. Movies are passive.  Ask WHY you need a cutscene, objectively, and if there isn’t an interactive way to get the same effect?  Player reward?  Story point?  In-game engine can’t handle it?  Player-hand break from a long sequence? MMenard, DEC

55 Games are interactive. Movies are passive.  Again, respect player time.  How long is your cutscene(s)?  When do they appear? How often do they appear?  Can a player skip them?  Yes, that’s more wasted content, but think of all the reasons WHY a player may want to skip them. MMenard, DEC

56 MMenard, DEC Treating Games like Movies.

57 MMenard, DEC Treating Games like Movies.

58 My story has all the feels. Seriously, it could be a movie. Oooo…. Movie deal….  I’ve got this great story to tell, the player’s going to love it.  It has 5 acts, this great plot twist, and a killer ending.  My characters are pretty effing sweet too  I’ve got this great story to tell, the player’s going to love it.  It has 5 acts, this great plot twist, and a killer ending.  My characters are pretty effing sweet too MMenard, DEC

59 Games are interactive. Stories are passive.  Games are interactive. They are about Player Choice.* MMenard, DEC *I feel no need to change this.

60 Games are interactive. Stories are passive.  Games can tell a story, and often do. Stories can help give direction to gameplay.  But – WHO is telling the story?  You?  The Player? MMenard, DEC

61 Games are interactive. Stories are passive.  What’s more important to you?  Your perfectly crafted narrative?  Player Choice?  Gameplay?  Maybe your story isn’t best served by a game? MMenard, DEC

62 MMenard, DEC Letting Narrative Trump Gameplay.

63 MMenard, DEC Letting Narrative Trump Gameplay.

64 I am a math god. MMenard, DEC *This caused the one time programmers outright refused to touch my crappy code.

65 People are not calculators. Most people.  Be aware of WHO is doing the math – is it a computer or a player?  Complicated systems don’t necessarily create more fun systems. MMenard, DEC

66 People are not calculators. Most people.  Make your algorithms only as complicated as they need to be.  If the devs can’t understand it, the player definitely won’t. MMenard, DEC

67 MMenard, DEC Impossible Mental Math

68 MMenard, DEC Impossible Mental Math

69 Respecting the Product “You spent 3 years on a game and then destroyed it in the first DLC?!” MMenard, DEC

70 Everyone celebrates and loves Christmas. My Christmas DLC update is gonna kill it and make all the monies.  Fact: Everyone loves “the Holidays”.  Fact: Everyone celebrates the same Holidays.  Fact: Games that incorporate holiday content always make more money.  Fact: Nothing on this page is true.  Fact: Everyone loves “the Holidays”.  Fact: Everyone celebrates the same Holidays.  Fact: Games that incorporate holiday content always make more money.  Fact: Nothing on this page is true. MMenard, DEC

71 Be judicious and judgmental of all content.  Go easy on themed content, especially if it’s 4 th wall-breaking content.  “Content cadence” is not a free license to destroy all your production work.  Crapping out on DLC and content pushes post release negates all work and effort you put into the original product.  Seriously. MMenard, DEC

72 Be judicious and judgmental of all content.  Look at your content and ask yourself:  What does it do to support the core concepts/systems of my game?  Does it hurt or improve immersion? Does it ‘fit’ in my game world?  Is it offense or applicable to only a small number of players?  Am I really only doing this because I want a Sexy Mrs. Claus costume in game? MMenard, DEC

73 MMenard, DEC Anything-goes Content Cadence

74 MMenard, DEC Anything-goes Content Cadence

75 Players love contests! It’ll boost our NURR* metrics by 9000%!  People like competing – that’s why they play games!  So if I put in a contest or two, they’ll play my game more.  I’ll just throw it up on the forum boards and let them have at it.  Done.  People like competing – that’s why they play games!  So if I put in a contest or two, they’ll play my game more.  I’ll just throw it up on the forum boards and let them have at it.  Done. MMenard, DEC *New User Return Rate. I wish I made that up.

76 Contests are not Community.  If you’re trying to improve your community involvement, start with improving your game. Don’t immediately jump to tacked-on gimmicks. MMenard, DEC

77 Contests are not Community.  You can’t solve a community issue with a contest.  You can’t solve a balance issue with a contest.  You can’t improve all metrics with a contest.  Contests aren’t free content.  Seriously, you have to moderate that s%*t. MMenard, DEC

78 Contests are not Community.  Contests can be fun and be a neat way to hand out unique rewards to some players.  But they can also be decisive, harmful, or hurtful if not properly set up and moderated.  Only you can prevent contest corruption. MMenard, DEC

79 MMenard, DEC Disrespecting the Community

80 MMenard, DEC Disrespecting the Community

81 All games need multiplayer components now. What do you mean that doesn’t make any sense with our game?  People like competing with other people.  That’s why games that don’t have multiplayer don’t sell.*  Every game therefore should have a multiplayer or social component to maximize our potential profits and player base.  People like competing with other people.  That’s why games that don’t have multiplayer don’t sell.*  Every game therefore should have a multiplayer or social component to maximize our potential profits and player base. MMenard, DEC *This is blatantly untrue.

82 It’s ok to be single player.  Games don’t need a multiplayer component to play, perform, or sell well.  Community != multiplayer.  “Social” and “Multiplayer” are genres as much as systems. They don’t belong everywhere. MMenard, DEC

83 It’s ok to be single player.  Introducing social or multiplayer aspects to your systems can break them or unbalance them.  It can also divert resources away from the core game. MMenard, DEC

84 It’s ok to be single player.  If a bot can adequately stand in for your multiplayer actions, you might need to rethink your decisions up to this point.  What value is multiplayer adding?  How ‘social’ is it really?  Am I breaking core, fun aspects of my game to fit on a multiplayer component? MMenard, DEC

85 MMenard, DEC Pointless Multiplayer

86 MMenard, DEC Pointless Multiplayer

87 Respecting your Integrity “If you don’t like it, why should your players?” MMenard, DEC

88 Eff it, just ship it already. MMenard, DEC

89 If it’s not fun, kill it.*  Critiques suck.  Critiques of your work suck more.  What sucks most is sucky- products going to market with your name attached to them.  Suck. MMenard, DEC *Or insert your game’s primary aesthetic – like educating.

90 If it’s not fun, kill it.  Start by saying “No” to your ideas and systems. Make them prove their worth to exist. Why are they better than this other idea?  If it’s not supporting your game, if it’s not fun, why the hell is it in there? MMenard, DEC

91 If it’s not fun, kill it.  One fun or well-designed feature does not excuse you for designing lazy features for the rest of the game. A game is a sum of it’s parts, not a weighted average.  Each feature should get equal opportunity treatment, and an equal opportunity to say “No” to. MMenard, DEC

92 If it’s not fun, kill it.  Saying “No” to a design is not failure. It’s iteration.  Saying “No” to shipping a bad game is not failure. It’s smart business. MMenard, DEC

93 If it’s not fun, kill it.  Say “No” early and often. Don’t let anything become “too big to fail”.  That’s not good design, iteration practice, or good for the team. That’s stupid.  It’s your design, your game, your product, your name. Respect it. MMenard, DEC

94 MMenard, DEC Bad Design

95 MMenard, DEC Bad Design Bad Features

96 MMenard, DEC Bad Design Bad Features Bad Game

97 MMenard, DEC Bad Design Bad Features Bad Game Bad Product

98 MMenard, DEC Bad Design Bad Features Bad Game Bad Product Bad PR

99 MMenard, DEC Bad Design Bad Features Bad Game

100 Questions? Contact: artemic.com “W “I doubt strongly there is time for questions.” MMenard, DEC


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