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Video Game Design: Making a great game

When you are designing a video game there are a lot of things to think about. And a lot of my tutorials focus on the software involved in either designing levels or models for your games. But this tutorial addresses a very important part of game design: Playability and enjoyment!

There is a video with this tutorial: At the end of this there is a video that you can watch. It takes you completely through the game I made to show you what to think about when designing a game. I narrate it and give you all the points to think about. It covers points like using color to create tension and emotion and getting the player to interact with your environment.

About the game: I created this game in a few hours and I use it to show some basic playability things you should think about when designing a video game. Design of a game encompasses a lot more than great looking levels and graphics. You also have to consider what the player is going to do in the game. What is the overall goal of the game? What are the sub goals that the player has to accomplish? This game is a fully playable executable I have created and I may be uploading it somewhere so you can download and play it. But it is 260 meg in size so kind of prohibitive. At the end of this tutorial is a youtube video that takes you through the whole game and shows you some of the basic design concepts I outline in this tutorial.

Overall Concept of Design

If you are starting out in your designing of video games you should come up with an overall concept of your game. For the game I have here the concept is pretty simple: "Escape". You find yourself trapped in a prison cell and you have to find your way out.

First Design Challenge: Start out Easy and let the player acclimate

A Locked door is the first task

This is what the player first faces: A locked door in a cell. So the first task is very easy: Figure out how to unlock the door. An inspection of the cell reveals a cot with a key on it.

The first task is easy but this sets up the player for the mind set needed in the next set of tasks....



Second Design Challenge: The Easter Egg Hunt

The easter egg hunt

This image shows the design set up for this first section of the game. The player comes into the game at the green arrow on the left. He finds his way out of the cell by finding a key. To get out of this section of the game the player has to unlock the door at the white arrow. The switch for this door is located in the cell at the red ball. The player finds a series of keys that will open up various doors until finally the switch can be used and escape from this section is made. I call this the easter egg hunt. The player has to hunt around and find objects that will assist him in moving foward in the game.

Third Design Challenge: Manipulation of Environment

manipulating environment design puzzle

The player comes into a room with only one exit. It is in the upper left hand corner and there is a walkway. But the walkway is too high with no ladder so how do we get up there?

The answer comes in a series of crates on the floor. The player can move the crates to create a kind of step ladder. He moves the crates and climbs up to the gantry and then is through the door and on the way to the next challenges.

The player has to manipulate the environment that you give him. Give him the tools to figure things out. It poses an interesting challenge that will keep him interested in the game because instead of just moving forward he has to think about what to do.

Fourth Design Challenge: Being aware of the environment

lava pit

The player has to get out of this next room and the only way out is the door on the left. It is of course locked and there are a couple of things about this room. First off, the player has to walk across the gantry, which is pretty easy, and the red lava below will cause damage to the player so awareness is heightened. It brings a sense of caution and danger to the game. So how does the player actually get out:? This is the second thing about this room.



The Screen Obstacle

On the lower level of this room is a screen door that blocks off a hallway. Could this be important? Of course it is and the player needs to figure out a way to get through this screen to see what is down the hallway. (The switch that opens the door to the next section is down this hallway). So what does the player do?





The bazooka is the answer

Near the screen, on the floor is a bazooka. Well, Taking a shot at the screen with the bazooka will damage it. A second shot will totally destroy it and the hallway is free to explore. At the end of the hallway is a room with another weapon and a wall switch that will open the door to the next room.

So now the player has learned more awareness of the game and has learned that manipulation of things can come in a lot of different forms from moving objects to using objects in order to obtain the objective.



Fifth Challenge: Reward the Players Ingenuity

Crouching to look down into room below

The next room the player enters only has one way out. It is through a hole in the floor and there is no way back up. This means that once the player commits to dropping down he cannot change his mind. So a player is rewarded if he exercises caution and looks around a bit. Looking down into the hole he sees that the room below has four suspicious looking doors. hmmm.... might mean trouble.

So, taking a look around the room he is currently in reveals a switch. This switch opens the four doors below and low and behold....




There are zombies behind the doors. Being still on the level above it is quite easy to pick these zombies off in relative safety. Hah! The player is given the feeling of having accomplished something extra by being suspicious and cautious. Good Job and he pats himself on the back. Now he can jump down and continue on. In this lower area another switch is discovered that opens and closes these doors and a key is found inside the room with the zombies. So it was necessary to confront and kill them but because the player was cautious he gets a feeling of accomplishment having done it in a more personally rewarding - and safer way.




Let's Continue with this Game Design Tutorial     I am going to cover psychology, manipulating colr for emotional effect and building dramatic tension in the player

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