So, game design. It’s kinda my job. I’ve read the second lesson in Game Design Concepts, this one with a focus on what it means to be a designer and a bit on how to plan out designs. As with last time, my thoughts are below.
“Game designers are artists.” I’m clearly not the kind of artist that Reikun and Viridi are, but I guess I am in the sense that I create things. There was a TED talk a while ago (I haven’t watched any of those in forever) describing the three body parts necessary to creating good art: the hand, the head, and the heart. Translated from metaphor, that would be the skill to put everything in place, the intelligence to know how to proceed, and the passion to give what you create power. I have a decent bit of programming skill, a random assortment of knowledge that isn’t particularly focused on game design, and a passion blotted with ennui and fear of failure. I’ll have to improve in all three areas before these games can be good, I suppose.
“Game designers are architects.” I should probably learn how to make a proper design doc. And maybe play Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft more to get a proper understanding of architecture, even if it isn’t quite what Ian meant.
“Game designers are party hosts.” I’m not good at throwing parties, but what a lot of parties don’t (intentionally) have is conflict. You aren’t supposed to beat the crap out of your friends and then go home like nothing happened. I suppose games are a party that have to be carefully planned so that the bruises aren’t too bad by the end of it.
“Game designers are research scientists.” This was one of the things I wanted to be when I finished college. I wonder if I can actually get a paper on this published, and put that statistics class to some kind of use.
“Game designers are gods.” Being a game master for TRPGs has taught me this well. Of course, the best gods are the ones that don’t railroad their followers.
“Game designers are lawyers.” So I’m more the god from the first fifteen chapters of Leviticus, huh? On that note, lawyers tend to throw annoying parties, don’t they?
“Game designers are educators.” Educator was one of the other things I wanted to be when I finished college. Of course, a good educator teaches things that are applicable to lots of different things. When a player finishes my games, what should they take away?
When I saw game design described using the scientific method, I admit I got giddy. As I mentioned above, I wanted to be a scientist. This may not be the most useful way to do science, but it’s something. I suppose the rapid iteration and prototyping stuff is game design’s version of a repeatable experiment. What happens when I get a question about my game’s design that can’t be answered by the scientific method, though? Is that part of the game ‘not even wrong’?
I wonder if the group as a whole needs to be trying iterative design more. I’m kinda doing this with Ibuki, but for the most part I was kinda focused on the technical aspects of seeing if things worked more than I was thinking about how fun it all was. The danger of this is that our games might get pretty complex, which the article warns about as it means taking longer per iteration. (Although I’m guessing the trick is to iterate the core over and over, then add one part at a time and see how it responds, and if it causes a need for a change in an old part. I guess I’ll find out eventually.)
I played my bridges game from last time. It was terrible, all luck with only two players. I decided to change the rules so that the game was cooperative: everyone works together to create bridges. It’s a bit more unique and takes some thought rather than just rolling a die. It’s still terrible, but a few more iterations and I’ll see what happens.