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Game Design Serious Games Miikka Junnila.

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Presentation on theme: "Game Design Serious Games Miikka Junnila."— Presentation transcript:

1 Game Design Serious Games Seminar Miikka Junnila

2 Summary What is a game What is game design The game design process What makes a game good

3 What is a game? Some definitions A game is an interactive structure of endogeneous meaning that requires players to struggle towards a goal (Costikyan) A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome (Salen&Zimmerman) "A game is an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context." (Clark C. Abt)

4 Games are INTERACTIVE Interaction is fundamental to games. Players need to play the game What is it that players do while playing your game? –What kind of skills do they need? –What do players do Physically Mentally Socially The players want to make meaningful decisions

5 Games have GOALS For the interaction to be meaningful, there has to be a goal – why interact if there is no goal? Usually in games, the game tells you what the goal is – how to win Sometimes the players add their own goals into the game, and that’s something the designer can encourage, but not having any clearly defined goal as part of the system of the game can paralyze players or give them a feeling of being lost

6 Games have CHALLENGE The players want the game to challenge them, and beating this challenge will bring a sense of accomplishment after reaching the goal –The game can bring other sorts of pleasure to the player too, but the sense of achievement is central to games It is important to balance the game challenge to be just right –Not too easy (boring) –Not too difficult (frustrating) Challenge may come through other players, who are trying to win the game too, or it can be built into the game system, as in most single player computer games or for example solitaire

7 Games have RULES Rules are shaping the interaction of players while they are trying to reach their goal If the players could choose to do whatever to reach the goal, they might come up with action that is not challenging or fun at all The game rules set the boundaries for interaction, and the challenge and the play arises from trying to make good decisions within the limited set of actions you can take in the game

8 Games create their own MEANING This is a phenomenon in games: The players engaging in the game choose to pursue the goal of the game within the rules The points of the game, or game currency, or anything crucial in the system of the game, doesn’t have any meaning outside the context of the game Players are still choosing to accept their value in the game, and players who are not taking the game seriously can destroy the experience for every player

9 What is game design? Designing games is about designing an (enjoyable) experience to players by creating a system of challenging, goal-oriented action with certain limits Trying to create a space of possibility, where the players can experience engaging, dramatic moments Game design is not mainly about programming or graphic design, even though both of these skills are often needed when designing digital games Especially in the case of serious games, there can be other goals for the experience than entertainment involved

10 The game design process Initial motivation – usually making a fun game, but there can be restrictions or other agendas too, especially with serious games –Benchmarking possible other games with similar characteristics –Maybe already an idea of what kind of game will this be? What platform? What genre? Brainstorming –Collecting ideas that come to mind Evaluating the ideas, choosing some as the basis Defining a very crude and basic idea of the rules and the goal to create the challenge and direct the interaction Making a paper prototype –It is very important to test the game mechanics in play as soon as possible –You can’t really know if it works before you’ve tried it –The prototype can be ugly and simple, but all the important rules have to be in it

11 The game design process Testing the prototype –When the system of rules, goals and interaction is set in motion, the problems usually become apparent –The testing phase is usually a long iterative process, where the rules are tweaked to solve problems that have been noticed while testing –When the game seems to somehow work, it’s usually time to give it to some new playtesters. If you only test the game yourself, some unclarities and difficulties may go unnoticed Writing a design document –When the prototype seems to work well enough, it’s good to write a document defining the rules and other features of the game –This is especially important when the game is about to be implemented by a group of people. The document should give a good picture of what the game is supposed to be Also the prototype is important in communicating what the game will be to the group

12 The game design process The production –When the idea has been tested and documented, implementation can begin –Even with all the testing that has already been done, it would be important to keep on testing the game when possible –The look and feel of the game that is finalized at this state can bring up some new questions More testing –After you think the game is ready – test more and tweak if needed The game is ready! –You better test it

13 So what should your game be? Functional –A player can understand the logic and play the game from start to end Internally complete –Even if the game is functional, there may still be some special cases that your rule system doesn’t handle or that break the experience you tried to design –Situations that take the game into a deadend –Situations where the players don’t know how to interpret the rules, or the computer doesn’t have code to deal with it (bugs) –Situations where a player finds a way to abuse the system to give some advantage

14 What should your game be? Balanced –Even if the game works fine from the point of view of the rules, the rules may still be giving certain players or tactics an advantage, that may seriously hurt the gaming experience If you give the players a choice of five actions a turn, and the players find out that by only doing two of them they always win, then you have a problem If the players find out that one starting place on your game map is much better than the others, then nobody will want to start in the worse position If the game is balanced to be too easy or too difficult for the average player, they won’t enjoy your game

15 What can make a game fun? Reaching and exceeding goals Competing against opponents Exercising difficult skills Making interesting choices Living out fantasies Social interaction Exploration and discovery Collecting things Sensory stimulation Self-expression Construction and destruction Story

16 Thank you!

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