In this chapter we will go over some theories of game design which are not officially recognized but are reasonable and can be proven. If these theories are correct then it will make designing a fun game all the easier.
There are some primary aspects to a fun game, the challenge, the risk, reward, loss, and innovation.
People play a game for the challenge it poses, this challenge is usually set at the beginning of a game. There are 3 types of challenges.
Completion: The challenge to complete/finish the game.
Compounding: The challenge compounds as the player progresses in the plot.
Ultimatum: The initial challenge is too great for the player to take on so the player must gain ability by playing through the game.
Every game presents a risk factor, which is - if the challenge is lost then there is a negative consequence and if the challenge is won then there is a reward. The topics of reward and loss are discussed below.
Without a risk factor there is no point in playing a game. If there is nothing to lose, there is no challenge. If there is nothing to win, there is no point in playing.
To calculate risk use the following equation: The amount that can be lost (or already has been) added to the amount that can or has been won.
The reward is the positive consequence of conquering the challenge; it can be anything from an increase in score, new items, or a cut-scene.
Tangential reward: A reward that has nothing to do with the eventual completion of the game. These rewards can be things such as cut-scenes that are cool or even unlocking new modes and mini-games.
Compounding reward: A reward that builds on itself. This could be defined as score, or even completion of a level. Therefore the value of the compounding reward increases each time it is attained. These rewards can be completion of a level (which compounds into the completion of the game) or even score.
Calculating reward Reward is calculated by the difficulty of the challenge plus the effort given
It is best that the reward is greater than or equal to what had to be done to get the reward. There are some exceptions - for example compounding rewards; though the initial reward was less than the effort the final result is certainly greater.
The loss is the negative consequence of failing the challenge; it can be anything from loss score, to a game over.
Tangential loss: A loss that has nothing to do with the eventual completion of the game. Maybe you lose an item that was fun but had nothing to do with winning the game.
Compounding loss:A loss that builds on itself. Losing points, or an extra life (which can compound into a game over or ultimatum loss) Therefore the effect of the loss increases each time it is attained.
Ultimatum loss: A dangerous but effective element, this is, if the player loses a certain challenge they fail the greatest challenge and they receive the ultimatum. Usually a permanent game over (meaning all progress is lost). This can destroy the replay value very easily.
Calculating loss: The difficulty of the challenge plus the effort put in.
According to human nature, it is inevitable that a person will learn and gain more skill presented a challenge and a chance to grow - therefore a game must increase in difficulty as the player progresses in order to continue to be challenging.
Difficulty is an important aspect of the structure of a game. There can always be a challenge, but if the challenge presents no level of difficulty then the challenge is useless.
The difficulty is calculated by how much logic and skill is required of the player to complete a challenge.
Logic and skill: The required input from the player, what is actually challenged. As the game progresses (in most cases) the challenge difficulty increases and therefore the required logic and skill increases.
Game art deals with presentation, specially with non textual information that can be directly part of the game-play or simply used to enrich the player experience.
As with any other feature in a game sound is of major importance, bringing the richest audio experiences possible into a game is increasingly important to make a product stand out in the market. All games are ultimately attempting to do the same, quality and innovation are the corner stones in any new production.
Some audio features that are implement in games consist in:
- Dynamic sound mixing system.
- Interactive music.
- Ambient and environment simulation.
- Realtime convolution reverb (simulation of sound waves reflecting on structures).
The audio possibilities of a game are linked to the hardware available and system resources we will cover this issue in the Selecting the Hardware for Audio section of this book.