one thousand and one perspectives
When designing something you really need to think it through. The pro’s, the con’s as well as all requirements and consequences. For me, one of the biggest challenges is always keeping track of all the perspectives regarding the game, while simultaneously being very ‘hands-on’ with a certain mechanic or aspect of gameplay.
In the best scenario you don’t have to split your focus by doing a mechanic first and the level the next day. But often, working with a team you as a designer are not only creating single designs, but also are responsible thinking about the game as an experience all the time. Programmers and Artist will talk to you in order to get a better understanding of the technical and visual requirements.
Your mind does not get the luxury of just thinking about a new mechanic, while doing research, prototyping it or creating a mockup.
Often you have to switch back and forth between varying states of mind. One being about communicating a very precise concept of something you created before, the other about coming up with something new that solves some problems in a clever way. One being abstract and more about a feeling or an atmosphere and the other one consisting of numbers and values.
This variety of mental states is also source of joy when doing Game Design, an activity that is always changing it’s focus. It’s not always possible to avoid switching, but being aware of it can help being more focused and productive.
One dimension in which the different states of mind are ranging is depth. Depth describes from which distance you are viewing your games Design:
- A Single Value
- A Mechanic using/changing that Value
- Dynamics created by the mechanic interacting with others
- A game loop consisting of this mechanics and its dynamics being repeated
- A level with elements that requires several parallel game loops to get through
- The game as a series of levels played from start to finish
Changes to the first layers affect all the layers below, so wen changing something you always need to check against possible consequences to the other layers. Working at a certain depth, improving a particular element of your game you also requires to have at least one of the following perspectives:
- Story – Is a coherent story visible for the player, also through the gameplay?
- Dynamics – Are all dynamics, as outcomes of interactions, welcome?
- Explanation – Does the game explains itself to the player?
- Physical – Is the player able to convert his desired actions into game input?
- Theme – Is a theme visible and supported by all elements
- Visuals – Is the look interesting and fitting?
- Technical – Do thinks like crashes, network lag or frame drop harm your experience?
This list is not near to be complete and can be extended easily. It’s meant to inspire you to open up a space for diverse possible perspectives concerning your game. All these perspectives add up together to the experience created by the game. And in the end, it is the experience we care about. The only way to create a better experience, is to improve the game from all the latter mentioned perspectives simultaneously.