Thursday, 3 March 2011

Game Design: Fun in games

The element of fun in computer seems the easiest thing to achieve.Take some ninjas, zombies and pirates, put them in a challenging setting, and off You go.
"Fun" is very hard to define unless You use plenty of gameplay examples where "fun" actually happens.
Everyone can  name at least a few examples of "fun" moments in games: rip off the medusa's head in God of War, freeze and burst enemies in Duke Nuk'em, use the chainsaw in Doom, beat Your favourite boss enemy in a game, use a special item with awesome visual effects and powers for the first time (!).
And so on.
But reverse engineering that element is difficult.When designing a game, You need to break down the "fun" into emotions and experiences You as a developer can relate to.
What is so cool about that new, shiny item ? Its the feeling it evokes when beeing used ! What exactly is that feeling  ? Its a sensation of exploration, achievement, reward and simply satisfaction from triggering an effect. And this feeling can also be evoked by battling a boss enemy by using a strong visual design,  memorable animations, a challenging combat and a masterfully choereographed winning sequence.
Of course You could just have Kratos rip off the boss' head.But isnt it MUCH MORE FUN ripping him apart bit by bit and having to climb his back to hit that weak spot ?
Doesn't that enhane DRAMATCALLY the feeling of exploration, challenge and achievement ?
Now the job is to take these basic ingredients and apply them to different experiences in the game. Have fun designing the finding and opening of a treasure chest so well that the player gets giddy-giddy EVERY TIME !

Next: how to fight repetition, wear-off and eventually boredom, aka "death of excitement".

Ed:Reading this makes me remember an old thing that a good friend said to me not to long ago and that is 'if a game isnt fun for you to play then how can you expect others to enjoy playing it'. Well I now have the 'calculations' I require to complete the title sequence so we can move forward making the game something special now all I need is the 'missing frames' to complete it. I will 'placeholder' these for now though. Ed OUT :)

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