Fundamentals of Game Design

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Fundamentals of Game Design | Chapter One

Design Practice | Questions

  1. As a potential designer, do you see yourself as an artist, an engineer, a craftsman, or something else? Why do you see yourself that way?

    1. As a potential designer, I see myself as a World Builder more than anything else. This may fit in with the term craftsman, but from this point on I will refer to World Builder to describe myself as a potential designer. I see myself this way because I enjoy the creation of the game world through narrative as well as the construction of the game world within the engine. World Builders, in my opinion, are the back-bone of every game in that they serve as the anchors to keep the other aspects on track in terms of the overall vision of the game. World Builders set the stage of the game world and lay the ground work for the creation of player challenges, mechanics, and the art style of the entire game and that is something I see myself wanting to do as a potential designer.

  2. Do you agree or disagree with the definition of a game? If you disagree, what would you add, remove, or change?

    1. According to the textbook, the definition of a game is as follows: A game is a type of play activity, conducted in the pretext of a pretended reality, in which the participant(s) try to achieve at least one arbitrary,non-trivial goal by acting in accordance to the rules. This definition makes solid points through its emphasis of play, pretended reality, arbitrary goals, and rules. The idea of a pretended reality goes back to the concept of the magic circle where once players enter this imaginary circle, they actively participate in the game by giving certain actions contextual importance and meaning based on the rules of the game. One of the more thought provoking aspects of this definition of what a game is, as well as many others, is whether or not a game needs a goal in order to be a game. I personally think that they do because I have found that in games where the rules do not specifically outline a goal or some sort of victory condition, players themselves create one. In the Golden Age of arcades, arcade games did not have an outlined goal for the player, though they may have had milestone goals for the players to complete such as individual levels or destroying individual enemies. The idea of having a high score chart/list became the overall goal for players because they made it their goal to achieve the highest high score and specific machines. If a game does not have some sort of goal, and just has repetitious actions for the player to perform, then that is where I draw the line and say that is not a game.

    2. To think about this concept in a different light, people can turn remedial tasks such as doing the dishes or raking leaves in the front yard and turn them into a game by adding the element of an achievable goal such as raking all of the leaves until the biggest leaf pile on the block, or washing the dishes within a certain time limit. The process of turning chores into games by just adding some sort of achievable goal emphasizes the concept that games are games because of those goals. Another idea about the definition of a game provided by this textbook is whether or not everyone in the magic circle should be aware that they are participating in a game in order to be participating in the game. In other words, can it be possible for one or more players to be unaware that they are playing a game in order to actively participate in that game? Can one players’ unawareness to the magic circle be the driving force behind their actual participation in the magic circle?

  3. We have defined game-play strictly in terms of challenges and actions, leaving out the game world or the story. Do you feel that this is appropriate? Why or why not?

    1. I feel that the definition of game-play being strictly defined in terms of the challenges and actions, while leaving out the game world and the story, is very appropriate because game-play is simply how the player plays a game. The game world and the game story set the stage in terms of giving the challenges and actions that the player needs to perform and accomplish contextual meaning, but in most cases the game world and the game story do not get involved with game-play to the extent of being included in its definition. Space Invaders, for example, challenges the player to shoot and destroy alien space ships that are heading towards Earth. The game-play of Space Invaders is simply to move back and forth horziontally at the bottom of the screen and shoot upwards to destroy the slowly descending enemy space ships. Additional elements such as the barriers placed just above the player to use as temporary cover, the speed and overall motion of the enemy ships, the slowly increasing music/beat that causes anxiety in players as the game progresses, the speed of the projectiles for both the enemies and the player, as well the UFO type enemy that appears on screen for extra points and the overall point value associated with destroying an enemy ship are all a part of the game-play of Space Invaders. The idea that these enemies are extraterrestrial beings coming to destroy the planet and the player is Earth’s last defense has nothing to do with the game-play of Space Invaders and just provides context/background to the players’ actions, perhaps making it more enjoyable or enhancing the overall experience, but is not part of the game-play.

  4. Why is it fair if one athlete trains to become better but not fair if he takes drugs to become better? What does this say about our notions of fairness?

    1. The idea of using any type of performance enhancing drugs is thought of as cheating on some level. The more popular drug, steroids, is thought of as cheating in most sports as well, and the reason that I think this is the case is because athletes are putting external/foreign chemicals into their bodies that the body does not produce itself naturally and therefore is cheating or looked at as being unfair. What if an athelete takes off the shelf or behind the counter vitamins to help boost different chemicals while they train? Is that the same thing? My thoughts are that on a very basic level using steroids and taking vitamins are the same thing; you are introducing external chemicals into your body in order to make some sort of enhancement. On a more ethical level, that is where things become different for most people. I don’t know much about the use of steroids and how strongly it effects the human body, but it does seem to effect the body in more drastic ways than any kind of vitamin available in stores. Is there a point where an athlete is introducing too much of a foreign chemical to call it cheating or unfair and should there be? Would things be different if all athletes were able to use steroids while training for their respective sport? If there were to be a baseball league where all of its players were able to use steroids if they wanted to, what would change? Would there be players who would choose not to use sterioids and try to prove themselves naturally?

  5. We’ve listed only the most important things that computers bring to gaming. What other things can you think of?

    1. For this answer, I will first reiterate the most important things that computers bring to gaming as presented in the textbook. They are as follows: Hiding the Rules, Setting the Pace, Presenting a Game World, and Creating Artifical Intelligence. The first aspect that computers bring to gaming that I can think of is Massive Multiplayer Experiences. In today’s world, games are able to support thousands of players connected through a networked server and this allows different types of players to effectively communicate and coordinate with one another in order to play the game differently. The primary examples of this are World of Warcraft and EVE Online; these games bring thousands of players together in order to create a world that feels alive. A second aspect that computers bring to gaming is Global Sharing of Content. By this I mean that players can now share their gaming experiences with one another from all around the world. Through services like Ustream and YouTube, players can record their game-play and show essentially the world that content. Sony has implemented Ustream services into its next generation console, the Playstation 4, and now the sharing of video content from the player to the world is becoming much easier. To extend even further, players are able to share game related information with one another through computers. Information such as video game reviews, previews, strategy guys, and overall game industry news is only possible at this scale it is today because of the power computers possess. The third and final aspect that I can think of that computers bring to gaming is Mobile Gaming. Mobile gaming has become extremely in most recent years, but the concept of mobile gaming has been present ever since the creation of the original Game-Boy. Having the ability to play a game while away from the television or the conveniences of the home is only really possible because of computers. Some may argue that table top games like Magic the Gathering can be played almost anywhere and not just in the home have a solid point, but one main difference is that a game on the phone can be played while moving, whereas players must be stationary to effectively play card games such as Magic the Gathering.

  6. The list of ways that video games entertain people is only a beginning. What else would you add?

    1. The list of ways that video games entertain people provided by the textbook include the following: Gameplay, Aesthetics, Harmony, Storytelling, Risks & Rewards, Novelty, Learning, Creative & Expressive Play, Immersion, and Socializing. On my first attempt at answering this question, the two additions I thought of were already part of this list in some shape or form. My first addition was Social Interaction through play, with my example being Sissy Fight 3000 but I realized that the original list already contained Socializing as one of the ways video games entertain people. My second addition to the list was Realistic Simulation, with my game example being Microsoft Flight Simulator but this addition can already be found in the original list provided by the textbook; Immersion. To start over now, the first addition to the original list of ways that video games entertain people would be Real-World Change meaning the use of the serious game genre to express a real-world concern through game-play. There are many examples out there for this type of entertainment, so I will choose one. My game example of this addition would be Darfur is Dying because this game aims to teach players about the real-world living conditions of those in Darfur through its game-play. There are some developers that want to send a strong message or at least bring some sort of real-world issue to the general public and choose video games as their medium for that message. My second addition to the original list provided by the textbook would be Competition. At one perspective, Competition can go hand-in-hand with Socializing in that competition is a potential off-shoot of socializing with friends such as when two friends come together to play a multiplayer shooter such as Halo. There are a tone of players, especially in the MLG (Major League Gaiming), that are entertained by video games that provide the possibility of competition like the Call of Duty or Halo franchises. The third and final addition to the list provided by the textbook of ways that video games entertain people that I would make is Stress Relief. For some players, video games are a safe outlet to relieve stress from their everyday lives. Perhaps after a long day of work, a gamer would like to play a video game to get his/her mind off of the real-world or to get out their frustrations through a interactive digital media.

Design Practice | Exercises

  1. Create a competitive game for two players and a ball that does not involve throwing it or kicking it. Prove that it is a game by showing how it contains all of the essential elements.

    1. The competitive game that I have created for two players and a ball is an off-shoot of hide & seek, but instead of one player hiding while another tries to find them, the goal of this game is for one player to hide the ball and for the other to find it. The first objective for both players is to define the boundaries/borders of the game that will limit the space in which the ball can be hidden. Once the boundaries are defined, one player must count to a pre-determined number with their eyes closed and the other player takes the ball and hides it within the bounds of the game space. After the ball has been hidden and the seeking player has finished counting, the search begins. The player who has hidden the ball keeps track of time in that the seeking player has a limited time to find the ball before they lose. The goal of the player who has hidden the ball is to manipulate/deceive the searching player into wasting their time searching in places of the game space that the ball is not located. The goal of the seeking player is to find the ball within the given time limit as well as determine whether or not the other player is misleading them or not. The game will also contain a three round-structure where players will alternate roles after each round so that each player has an opportunity to both search for the ball and to hide the ball. Based on whether or not the ball is found, a point will be rewarded to a player. If the ball is found within the given time limit, the seeking player will receive one point, but if the ball is not found within the given time limit, the player who had hidden the ball will receive a point. The player with the most points after three rounds is the winner of the game.This is a game because of the following reasons: each player has his/her own unique set of objectives, there is a winning and losing condition, and there is no throwing or kicking of the ball.

  2. Using a chessboard and the types of pieces and moves available in chess, devise a cooperative game of some kind for two people, in which they must work together to achieve a victory condition. (You do not need to use the starting conditions of chess, nor all the pieces.) Document the rules and the victory condition.

    1. The cooperatieve game that I have in mind involving a chessboard and the types of pieces and moves available in chess would be for both players to choose a total of 7 chess pieces: 1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Rook, 1 Bishop, 1 Knight, and 2 Pawns. The goal for both players is to get all of their chess pieces onto the opposite back row of the chessboard without accidentally removing one anothers’ pieces. The same rules of chess apply with this game, but the goal is not to remove the other players’ queen; it is to cooperatively move across the board without removing any of their pieces. This game will require in-depth knowledge of the rules in chess as well as require careful cooperative tactics to ensure that each player keeps all of their pieces and successfully reach the opposite end of the board. The initial set up of the board requires players to place their 7 chess pieces at opposite ends of one another on the back row of the board. The game-play will be exactly like chess in that it will be turn-based so players must play cautiously and cooperatively in order to succeed. If either player loses at least one chess piece, the game is lost for both players.

  3. Definte a competitive game with a single winner, for an unlimited number of players, in which creative actions are available. Be sure to document the termination and victory conditions.

    1. The competitive game that I have in mind is intended to be generic because of how large a spectrum creative actions thrive within. The goal of the game is to create a piece of visual art using any type element the player deems fits. Participating players cannot work together, but can find individuals outside of the game to participate or assist in the creation of a players’ visual art. Players have a total of 24 hours to go out into the world and create the most creative/stunning piece of visual art as possible within the given time frame. Players must also document the visual art through the use of photography or vide and players also need to make sure all proven documentation is accessible to all players before the conclusion of the 24 hours. After the 24 hours have finished, participating players will then be placed into brackets randomly, much like a tournament. From there, each round will compare two pieces of visual art by two different players and a winner will be chosen based on the number of votes from other players. The winner will then move onto the next round until there is only one player left who then becomes the overall winner of the game. There are only two termination conditions for this game; the first is to not submit any documentation or evidence before the end of the 24 hours of play and the second is to have the smaller amount of votes when it comes to the round-based judging. The overall victory condition is to win each round, earning the most votes than your competing players. This game will challenge the creative minds of the players to use any resource available to them within a 24 hour time period to create the most compelling and creative piece of visual art.

  4. Describe the elements of the game-play in each of the following games: backgammon, poker, bowling, and Botticelli. (Use the Internet to look up the rules if you do not know them.)

    1. Backgammon – The main game-play of Backgammon consists of moving your set of chips in a horse shoe path to your home section and then systematically removing those pieces from the board; all of which takes place based on a dice roll of two die. I have never played this game and just reading the rules does not clarify the game-play to me, but I will do my best to describe the elements of game-play here. Based on the numbers rolled between two dice, the player must slowly move all of their chips beween 4 quadrants in order to get them all on your home quadrant. Once all of the players’ chips are in the home quadrant, the player must roll the dice in order to determine from which spaces that the player can start removing chips from their home quadrant. When all of the players’ chips are removed from the board that player wins. The specifics of the dice roll when players need to move their chips to their home quadrant still confuses me, but the main game-play involves moving chips systematically based on the numbers rolled by the player.

    1. Poker – The main game-play of Poker consists of players combining their hole cards with the community cards to make the best possible 5-card Poker hand. One of the larger aspects of the game-play is to psychologically convince your opponents into thinking that you have a better hand than you do. This can be done by placing large bets on the table to trick opponents into believing you have a better hand than they do, or by physically showing no signs through-out the game of how good of a hand the player has. At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt two cards. Once the first round of bets are placed, the dealer reveals three cards on the table called the flop. After a second round of bets and players choosing to fold, to exit the game, the dealer will then reveal the turn; a fourth card that players will then use in conjunction with their original two cards and the flop to begin concocting the best possible hand. Finally, the dealer reveals the river, a fifth and final card, that players must then use to complete their final hands. At this point, players can choose to fold or place one final bet. After the last betting round, all remaining players must reveal their hand and the player with the better hand wins and receives all of the money that was used to bet by all players throughout the course of the game. In short, the game-play of Poker consists of players trying to obtain the best hand at the table or convince their opponents that they have the best hand at the table.

    1. Bowling – The main game-play of Bowling consists of rolling a ball down a lane in order to attempt to strike down a total of 10 pins. The game consists of 10 frames and within each frame the player has two attempts to roll the bowling ball down the lane in order to knock down the 10 pins at the end of the lane. The 10th frame is special in that if a player earns a strike, meaning they knock down all 10 pins in one roll, or if the player earns a spare, meaning that they knock down all 10 pins in two rolls, then they are given an additional frame. Within this additional frame, with the player earns a strike they are given one last frame, but if they earn a spare on the first additional frame then their game ends. Bowling is a unique sport in that there is a fixed “high score” in that the highest score attainable is 300 and the goal of the game is to reach that score or earn the highest score among competitors.

    1. Botticelli – The main game-play of Botticelli consists of one player thinking of a famous person, either fictional or non-fictional, and the remaining players take turns in either guessing the famous person or asking the player yes or no questions to reveal more information about the famous person. The game-play of the player choosing the famous person is to answer the questions posed by the other players of the game as best as possible. The game-play of the players guessing the identity of the famous person chosen is to either ask the one player questions about the unknown famous person or try to make guesses to the identity of the unknown celebrity. It is a general rule to make sure that the player choosing the celebrity chooses a celebrity know by all players. If, by the end of the game, the guessers give up and the identity of the famous person is revealed, the guessers can come together to claim that the celebrity was too abstract or unknown by most guessers.

  1. List examples not already mentioned in this book of video games designed for single-player, local multiplayer, and multiplayer distrubted play. Explain how the games’ design supports these different modes.

    1. Single-Player – Most single-player experiences are based around some sort of story that the developers want to tell to players. Some examples of video games designed for single-player include Banjo Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario 64, Dishonored, and Bioshock Infinite. These games are purely story-driven games that challenges a single-player to complete challenges that coincide with major story elements. Banjo Kazooie, for example, holds potential for local multiplayer game-play because of the separation of the characters Banjo and Kazooie. Having two players individually playing as either Banjo or Kazooie would allow for more cooperative play, having each player possess a certain skillset that they can use to solve puzzles individually or to solve puzzles together.

    2. Local Multiplayer – In today’s video game world, there aren’t many games that support only local multiplayer; in most cases games support both local multiplayer and multiplayer over a network. In the past, there have been games that only supported local multiplayer game-play in conjuntion with a single-player campaign. The original Halo: Combat Evolved for the Xbox is a good example of a game that did local multiplayer well, and containing a single-player experience. The same goes for the original Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Mario Party series found throughout the Nintendo console history. Halo, for example, was designed for multiplayer cooperative play through the single-player campaign as well as multiplayer death-match game types. As technology advanced, the Halo series introduced online multiplayer as well.

    3. Multiplayer Distributed Play – In most recent game releases, especially on the PC platform, there have been titles that only allowed for multiplayer distributed play. Some of the earliest games to do this were EVE Online and the World of Warcraft. Both of these games took advantage of the connectivity that is used in PCs and allowed for large groups of people to come together and play. In these games especially, players can choose to play the game by themselves while others form groups/clans to play the game together, which is a very interesting concept. A newly released PC title that only allows for multiplayer distributed play that I enjoyed is Planetside 2. Planetside 2 pits three teams against one another in the acquisition of territories across three continents (very large maps).

    4. All Three Game Modes – Examples of games that have all three game modes available in their designs have already been mentioned in previous answers to this question such as the most recent entries from the Halo series like Halo 4. Halo 4 has a single-player campaign, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer available. The design of Halo 4 allows this because the games’ roots are in single-player and local multiplayer game modes, and the advances of technology, especially in the fields of network and connectivity, allows for multiplayer distributed play.

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