[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

July 25th, 2010

Answer: Yes.

Well technically yes, everyone has their way of solving a problem. Unless you are solving a logical problem, there probably is no correct way to how you deal with or solve it. Since this isn’t a psychology site there won’t be any dwelling on that matter.

So what is problem solving skills for when part of a game development project? In most cases it is the game designer/planner, programmer and graphical or non-graphical user interface designer that needs the skill in general.

Just a quick outline of what each job probably deals with on a regular basis…

  • Game designers/planners have to identify flaws in their design before production and find the solution before it becomes a game breaker later.
  • The programmers probably face a lot of problems with balancing visuals and functionality and solve it while bringing a game to surface from the designs.
  • Graphical or non-graphical user interface designers would need to find the solution to making an easy to use interface that is capable of handling the needs of the game.

So how to establish or practice problem solving skills? Programmers have it a little easier here, as they actually practice their logical thinking and problem solving with the more programming they experience.

Exercises for game design can be a bit of work if doing it with designs/works from scratch. An alternative would be to play games often and try to break them, find flaws, bugs and problems and think of solutions that would prevent these problems occurring in future designs.

Do you hate it when you interact with a game or software and find some things are not where they should be? Looking for the close button in the top corner but it isn’t there? User interface problem solving is probably easier to solve than the others, various ways of doing it include applying your own experiences with the controls you are using to interact, then tweaking and testing until you feel others will use it the way you intended, but the ultimate problem to solve is when you hand it to someone to try…

These are all just an idea, they aren’t always how you should find your solutions as a solution can be found differently… An example is the other day I thought of an idea to program but instead of trying with my solution I had offered my friend the exercise to see if he was up for it. I had my own solution and ideas planned for it but as my friend also had his own ways of solving the problem, I didn’t fully explain my methods to him. The result of course was a different solution to the same problem. Granted I probably still feel my solution is much simpler, but there is nothing wrong with his solution either as it does the job required.

Though everyone may solve problems differently there is another skill that probably is required… Identifying Problems. That is of course because identifying problems is the first step to finding a solution and finding the solution will lead you to the Answer.

July 17th, 2010

So I was asked to write about refining ideas… Where should I start? Well with most ideas they sometimes appear from no where, other ideas can come from inspiration or influences. Ideas are always great when they are still fresh and in your head, but they can also not work out so great when you put them down on paper.

Well yesterday I did exactly that… occasionally when an idea that feels and sounds good comes along, you want to put it down on paper… It starts simple but as you start laying out the details and specifics the idea can sometimes look less attractive than you originally thought.

However this is all part of the process to refining an idea. Having the idea down on paper now becomes a design proposal and allows you to see the potential errors in the idea. At this point you should be refining your design if you wish to continue with the idea.

Since this is a game related site, I guess specifically tackling the refine process for the purpose of game play is the point. Currently my problem is the game has no purpose, most ideas I think about always takes down the route of productivity or fun. If fun is dependent on the player’s ability to enjoy what is available then the result may not be that great.

Well with that idea there is still room for improvement and things can still work out given enough time and refining before prototyping. On the other hand there is always games out there that have been published and released.

Games have sequels for a reason, apart from the money making for popular franchises a sequel is a chance for the design to be reanalyzed and modified for the better… a sequel should play the same or better than the original. Anyone ever played a series to be disappointed by the next release of the game? I know I have, in most cases this happens because there was a change in the designer or director involved producing the game.

To finish up, I will say that an idea that becomes a design proposal doesn’t have to always work out, a game idea may not work now… but it may be more suitable later and with a little refining and modifications the results might be better than the original concept.

July 11th, 2010

There is many definitions for games out there, but the one definition that has helped me designing ideas for games is that: A game is a set of rules applied to an act or task for productive or unproductive enjoyment and fun. Anything can be a game…

This can mean a lot when creating a game. For example of how many games you can derive from applying rules to a simple ball. Quickly you should have something along the lines of bouncing a ball as many times as you can, how many bounces you can do in a minute, how fast can you bounce a ball ten times etc… Simple?

What about if we wanted to play with more people? Well you can either take turns with the same rules or create some multiplayer rules out from the same rules… Bouncing a ball between another person as many times as possible, How many times the two can achieve in a minute, How fast you can rally the ball between the two ten times etc… Of course it is possible to come up with more interesting and entertaining rules but these are all just a start.

As you can see applying a few rules can create a game. However just applying rules does not make a fun game. [Parents give their children rules, but they aren't always fun right?]… If you’re creating a game, you want to make it fun [for your audience and demographic] right? So try to use rules that make the game more interesting or productive. Most people enjoy a sense of accomplishment, which can come from completing a productive task or beating someone in a game.

Case to point, when I was still studying [haha right, I studied.] I had a Japanese test on the カタカナ Alphabet… now knowing me, I hate studying or believe that I am not good at studying from books. So I made a game out of it… I would say the game would only be a game to those who are beginning to learn Japanese, so to myself at the time who was the audience or demographic that I was targeting… it was a fun game. The game took three or four hours to make and I played it for one or two hours… it was simple, the rules were that the alphabets flash at random and all the player needs to do is click the correct pronunciation. Apart from a overall performance monitor, there was no scoring or any timers to make the game more challenging in anyway… but now that I am posting about it I feel that I probably could have gave it more interesting or entertaining rules. And how did I do for the test? Well let’s just say that I would have played longer if I wasn’t confident after only one or two hours.

That was a productive use of games or game design. It was a simple idea with simple rules… the game play isn’t great but it does it’s purpose and is now used for another purpose. To be an example of Anything can be a game…

July 4th, 2010

Game Design can sound complex when you think that about the current games in our generation. Even the most simple games on the high definition consoles require an exceptional amount of work because it is how the consumers expect to see from their investment in the technology.

It is true that we as consumers expect to get high quality games when we pay for high quality consoles, but what defines a high quality game? Is a high quality game the surround audio and high definition visuals or the game play or the amount of game content? Well I would say it is all of those.

From the game makers point of view that looks very expensive to do… which it is. Sometimes you can’t maximize all the aspects to achieve a great game due to limitations of time, money, resources and hardware.

Therefore you need a balance to help achieve a good game with limited resources. My thoughts on the balance is that there should be an order of priority which should always put Game Play and Game System above all the other aspects. You are making a game right?

To find the balance there is two ways about it… both ways require one simple start: What game are you making? Establish the game you want to make, be clear about what you want out of the game. So using one method, you can start to prototype the game and testing until you achieve what you wish the Game Play and System that you want. Of course this method isn’t feasible and sometimes not required… the other methods are if your game is in a genre where there are other similar types of games out there you have access to, you can play them and look for the Game Play and System that you want… remember that you are looking for aspects that are enjoyable and not reproducing a game that is already available out there… unless the game is a sequel to another game hehe.

Hopefully this will have given you an idea of how your game feels and plays before you decide if it will work or not. Depending on how complex the game is, a prototype might be close to half way of making the game anyway or may require the prototype game to be near complete before you even know if it will work or not. An example would be that the game is a heavily based visual game… the art in the game drives the game and the look and feel makes it all work. The worst part is reaching this point and realising your prototype struggles to run smoothly or has lag or frame skipping due to the intense visual requirements of your design… but that is why it is a prototype, there is always room for improvement… :)

Balancing between all the aspects that make a game will achieve a well thought out, fun, attractive and responsive game. I mean no one wants to play a game where it may look great, but everything you do makes you game over because the controls are appear to be lagging behind the visuals, where in fact it is the visuals that are reducing the performance of the game. Look at all the games out there, there will definitely be games that don’t appear too great yet people still play it religiously every day… there must be something about it that keeps them coming back right?

That’s the Balance.