The Pieces of Game Design

I’m curious about how others in the P3D community view the different parts of game design. If all of you could list out the different parts of game design according to your own design methods, what would that list look like?

My own matches S.M.’s, so I would fit right in if I pass my trial. I owe my friend one for getting me involved with the Company.

Here’s my outline, but I’m sure your own may vary:

A- Story

B- Level Design

C- Game Flow

D- Game Play

E- Game Balance

F- Game Elements

G- Sound Track

H- Sound Effects


Just like a good movie which pulls you into it, a good story for a game will do the same thing. In fact, games that have a really good story usually end up entertaining better. A good example would be the game Xenogears by Squaresoft some years ago. I remember being glued to my chair for hours while playing that RPG, because the story made me want to see more and more.

Level Design:

This is very important because the level infiltration style is derived from how the level was planned and designed. Levels which allow a player to move right through it are boring compared to levels that require a player to use some wit in order to make it through a level. So why would it matter if a level let a player just walk through a door versus a level which required a player to pull a handle and turn a wheel to walk through a door? Short answer…player interaction with the game world. The more of it, the better and if it’s cleverly designed, the more power to you and your game.

Game Flow:

This is basically the different scenarios (or chapters, levels) of your game and how they fit together with the story and the world you’re trying to create from the story. Creating game content that does not do anything for the story or progression of the story, will only feel like miss-placed content or content that was thrown in to fill a gap. Each scenario of a game should count and make an impact.

Game Play:

This is basically the features of the game. How the combat system will work, special effects, Controls, GUI, Cut Scenes, etc… I’m sure I don’t need to type more here, everyone knows how important that stuff is. Game Play is like the heart beat of a game.

Game Balance:

This one seems to plague even commercial games of today. Game Balance is just that…Balance!! Enemies being too easy or too hard (too hard in most games); Timer situations where the time requirement is too perfect; Your main character taking way too much damage per hit at the beginning of game; very little stat gain per level but a ridiculous amount of experience needed per level. Those are just a few examples of where Game Balance can be broken and when Game Balance is broken, a game can start to suck fast.

Game Elements:

These things can play on the emotions of “gamers”, like Tragedy, Surprise and Mystery. If you use Game Elements well, they can greatly intensify an already good story. As a developer, you have the power to make a “gamer” laugh or cry while playing a game and this is controlled with game elements.

Sound Track:

Good game music is like the drive of a game! There’s nothing better than going into combat while the sweet sound of butt kicking music is blasting through your headset! A good sound track really creates an addicting ambience for any game. You can’t go without it! Sound Track also works side by side with the Game Elements; helping in creating emotion off of the elements.

Sound Effects:

The more of this the better; sound effects help bring the game would to life. Visuals only do it part way, but in life…we see and hear our world. I love playing games where you can even hear the different sound effects associate with the different surfaces your character walks or runs on. Example – character moves from grass, to rock, to wood and you can hear the sound effect of those surfaces as the character feet strikes down. A surround sound with sound effects is even better!

These things were a part of my game design teaching and still are today. It seems like every truly good hit video game always have the majority of this outline in place (if not all). The final fantasy games of the past seemed to have all of this, especially FF7 (but now the FF series is dead in my opinion).

A lot of this stuff is lost in game design now because of the “Graphic Craze.” Visuals are giving so much importance until everything else just slips away or is just tossed in place with no real deep development or thought.

Not the way I was taught and not the way S.M. works either so I’m hoping I can get in league with the Company and work for it in the future (and with a team of people because solo work is a lot, lol).


What is your bible for Game Development? Share it.

Once again, this is all opinion and not some seriously heated debate. This post is for the purpose of exchanging some views and learning something new or improving your own development ways. Not all of us have been taught the same things when it comes to game design (unless you’re entirely “Indie”), which makes knowledge sharing exciting.

If I miss-typed, forgive me… I need a cup of coffee. :laughing:

There are many different approaches to designing and building games. I very much enjoy Daniel Cook’s posts on the subject: If you are interested in making games and aren’t reading his blog, you should be.

His approach focuses on establishing the mechanics first and making them fun, adding things like story later (if at all). He makes a compelling argument that story is not necessary for a game to be fun and engaging here:

Depending on the type of game you’re making, that’s true. A beat’um up usually doesn’t have much of a story and even if it did, it’s usually not a very good one. Sports don’t have stories; like NBA2K12. Arcade styled games will not have a story as well or not much of one. Look at The Sims… I would say that game is not about story at all.

Some games are more combat or puzzle solving natured, thus not using a story at all. Bottom-line, the most gripping games are the ones that use a good story. Beat’um ups get boring fast, because the game offers nothing other than combat and graphics. Arcade styled games can get boring after a few levels of the same thing.

A lot of old school platformers followed the no story tradition as well or included a poor attempt at one. One of my favorites, Castlevaina 2 Simon’s Quest; even though the game had a story, it wasn’t really brought out in great detail; the game was more about game play and puzzle solving than anything. Simon’s Quest used the element of Mystery well.

Of course the way I develop is based on old school game design, which is the foundation for games of today (more or less). :slight_smile:

If you really look into Video Game Sells, you will see that a lot of games are made but only so many become hits. The Hits are usually the games that offered more and were able to immerse the “gamer.” That “immerse” factor is driven by good story as well as everything else.

Other wise, if you’re just looking to make a game… That doesn’t take much.

You can create a hit game by having lots of “Fun Factor” and you don’t really need a story for that, but you do need a lot of creativity. Example: The Sims :slight_smile:

Try making an RPG in the image of Final Fantasy without a good story… It will be a fail; which all points back to the first words I typed, it depends on the type of game.

It will be nice if you do some initial character lay out and once you have 2 or 3 you can pick what is most nice and good looking character in games. Use the 3d software because it helps enhance and make you character cool.