Artist Development

Game Design

When working on games, it is important to focus on visual/audio, usability (UI) and game play.  I use an analytical lens when critiquing games, pulling from both experience and gut intuition.  I’ve been a gamer since Atari first game out with their consoles back in the 1980′s which enables me to put myself into the perspective of our gaming demographic.  With advanced game consoles like the Xbox and PS3, gamers are used to high quality, interactive experiences and are unforgiving when it comes to playing, so it’s important to be very detailed oriented and try to hit all points when designing games… and most importantly, it has be fun.

Below are a few points to consider when creating story based games:

  • Time Limit – Is this a time based game or is it open-ended?
  • Game Style – Choose the game style.  Will it be a first person shooter, will it be a puzzle, an arcade game, etc.
  • Levels – How many levels will the game have.  How does a player progress through levels?
  • Environments – Where does the game take place?  Does it need an environment?
  • Score – Some games are score based whether it be a tallied score or experience points.
  • Badges/Awards – Will the gamer be rewarded at the end of levels/battles with collectible badges and awards.  Can those badges/awards unlock bonuses whether weapons or points?
  • Upgrades (weapon/character) – Throughout game play, can you build your character either through personality upgrades, the weapons, the environment, etc.?
  • Story/Objective – What is the purpose of the game?  If this is a story driven game, it should have the same structure as a screenplay or book.  There is a beginning, middle and end filled with plot points and character development.  It is ok to deter from the traditional story structure, but the key is to make the game relatable or challenging to maintain the player’s attention.
  • Weapons/Defense/Offense - Do characters fight unarmed?  Are there special combo moves when fighting unarmed?  What types of offensive moves are there?  How can they block enemy moves?  What type of weapons are in the game?  Are they powered by some alien power source or are they based on real life arsenal?  Do they have different degrees of damage?  What is their reach?  Do they scope?  Are they upgrade-able?  How do enemies react or defend themselves against weapons?    Brainstorm a list of questions and cover all details so programmers, animators and artists know what to expect.
  • Protagonist/Antagonist Development (back story, character traits) – Create a backstory and bio for each character, enemies, hordes, etc.
  • Character Actions (static and in motion) – How does a character move and react?
  • Online/Mobile Tie-Ins - With emerging technology, it’s important to consider supplemental outlets to expand the experience of the game.
  • Sound Design (music and fx)
  • Ambient VFX
  • Technology (mobile, web, console, 2D, 3D)
  • Creative Concept/Development (character, weapons, environments, etc.)
  • User Interface
  • Will it be a series?
  • Demographic (gender, age, location,etc.)
  • Budget
  • Pipeline – This is more in the realm of ‘producing’, but something to consider when establishing budget.
  • Schedule/Milestones – Games have investors and investors want to see the progression of their investment and even have an opportunity to contribute to the product.  Be sure to schedule milestones for them to review and receive feedback.  Be sure you know when to scale back feedback as well.  Game development is a collaboration, so it’s important to guide the process.
- BH

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