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Challenges for Game Designers

Book Description

Welcome to a book written to challenge you, improve your brainstorming abilities, and sharpen your game design skills! Challenges for Game Designers: Non-Digital Exercises for Video Game Designers is filled with enjoyable, interesting, and challenging exercises to help you become a better video game designer, whether you are a professional or aspire to be. Each chapter covers a different topic important to game designers, and was taken from actual industry experience. After a brief overview of the topic, there are five challenges that each take less than two hours and allow you to apply the material, explore the topic, and expand your knowledge in that area. Each chapter also includes 10 "non-digital shorts" to further hone your skills. None of the challenges in the book require any programming or a computer, but many of the topics feature challenges that can be made into fully functioning games. The book is useful for professional designers, aspiring designers, and instructors who teach game design courses, and the challenges are great for both practice and homework assignments. The book can be worked through chapter by chapter, or you can skip around and do only the challenges that interest you. As with anything else, making great games takes practice and Challenges for Game Designers provides you with a collection of fun, thoughtprovoking, and of course, challenging activities that will help you hone vital skills and become the best game designer you can be.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Authors
  4. Introduction and Welcome
    1. Professional Game Designers
    2. Not a Game Designer... Yet!
    3. Game Design Instructors
    4. Continuing the Conversation
    5. Random Trivia: How This Book Happened
  5. I. Building Blocks
    1. 1. The Basics
      1. What Is Game Design?
        1. It’s Also All About the Player
        2. Meaningful Decisions
      2. What Game Design Is Not
      3. Types of Design
      4. What Is a Game?
      5. The Core of a Game
      6. Where Do Ideas Come From?
      7. Learning Game Design
      8. Common Terms in Game Design
      9. Approaches to Game Design
      10. Iterative Design
      11. Constraints on Game Design
        1. Video-Game Constraints
        2. Non-Digital Constraints
      12. Overcoming Designer’s Block
        1. Make a Resource Limited (Or Unlimited)
        2. Interacting with Your Friends
        3. Mess with the Play Order
        4. Kill a Rule
        5. Use the “Rule of Two”
      13. Resources
    2. 2. Game Design Atoms
      1. The Game State and Game Views
      2. Players, Avatars, and Game Bits
      3. Mechanics
      4. Dynamics
      5. Goals
      6. Theme
      7. What Comes First?
      8. Putting It All Together
      9. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–The Path
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        2. Challenge 2–It’s Mine!
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–When I Find You...
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Pick It Up
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants:
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–War Without Frontiers
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
      10. Resources
    3. 3. Puzzle Design
      1. Basic Puzzle Characteristics
      2. What Makes Puzzles Fun?
      3. Puzzle Types
        1. Riddles
        2. Lateral Thinking
        3. Spatial Reasoning
        4. Pattern Recognition
        5. Logic
        6. Exploration
        7. Item Use
      4. Level Design and Puzzle Design
      5. All for One and One for All
      6. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–It’s Da Bomb!
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–More Than a Maze
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–What’s the Password?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–A Shocking Puzzle
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Play New Eleusis (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      7. Non-Digital Shorts
      8. Resources
    4. 4. Converting Digital to Physical
      1. Practical Application
      2. How to Start
      3. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Pick a Game, Any Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Massively Two-Player Offline Card Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–WWII: The Tabletop RPG
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        4. Challenge 4–Twitch Board Gaming?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Would You Like Games With That? (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      4. Non-Digital Shorts
  6. II. Chance and Skill
    1. 5. Elements of Chance
      1. The Role (Roll?) of Chance in Games
        1. Delaying or Preventing Solvability
        2. Making Play “Competitive” for All Players
        3. Increasing Variety
        4. Creating Dramatic Moments
        5. Enhancing Decision Making
      2. Mechanics of Chance
        1. Dice
        2. Cards
        3. Pseudo-Random Number Generators
        4. Hidden Information
        5. Other Game Bits
      3. All Randomness Is Not Created Equal
      4. Completely Random Games
        1. Children’s Games
        2. Gambling Games
      5. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Luck Tac Toe
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–The GDC CCG
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–The Fourth Wheel
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–The Alien in the Desert
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Open-Ended Randomness
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
      6. Non-Digital Shorts
      7. Resources
    2. 6. Elements of “Strategic” Skill
      1. The Role of Skill in Games
      2. Types of Decisions
        1. Obvious Decisions
        2. Meaningless Decisions
        3. Blind Decisions
        4. Tradeoffs
        5. Dilemmas
        6. Risk Versus Reward Tradeoffs
      3. Frequency or Anticipation of Decisions
      4. Strategy and Tactics
      5. Completely Skill-Based Games
      6. Mechanics of Skill
        1. Tradeoff Mechanics
          1. Auctions
          2. Purchases
          3. Limited-Use Special Abilities
          4. Dynamic Limited-Use Special Abilities
          5. Explicit Choices
          6. Limited Actions
          7. Trading and Negotiation
      7. Strategic Evaluation
      8. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Skill From Nowhere
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Game Systems
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–Strategy on the Run
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        4. Challenge 4–A Whole New Dimension
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
          5. Variant
          6. Variant
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Black Friday: The Board Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      9. Non-Digital Shorts
      10. Resources
    3. 7. Elements of “Twitch” Skill
      1. Challenging the Player
      2. Tuning
        1. Difficulty Levels
        2. Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment
        3. Difficulty Curves
        4. Playtesting
      3. Twitch Decision Making
      4. Twitch Mechanics
        1. Pure Speed
        2. Timing
        3. Precision
        4. Avoidance
        5. Time Pressure
      5. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Adding Twitch to Strategy
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–Multi-Ball
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Twitch Dice
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Avoidance Under Pressure
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–That’s Hard!
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      6. Non-Digital Shorts
      7. References
    4. 8. Chance and Skill: Finding the Balance
      1. Consider the Target Audience
        1. Children
        2. Competitive Gamers
        3. Social Gamers
        4. Professional Players
        5. Families
      2. Playtesting for Luck/Skill Balance
      3. Exchanging Luck and Skill
      4. Combining Luck and Skill
        1. Games of Chance
        2. Games of Twitch Skill
        3. Games of Strategic Skill
      5. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Risk for Kids
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Adult Children’s Games
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–Fog of Strategy
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        4. Challenge 4–Casual Quake
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Hardcore/Casual
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
      6. Non-Digital Shorts
  7. III. Writing Game Concepts
    1. 9. What Is Intellectual Property?
      1. Types of IP
      2. Why IP?
      3. Working with an IP
        1. Research
        2. Know Your Constraints
        3. Honor the Player
        4. The Core of the Game Versus the Core of the IP
      4. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Care Bears IP
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        2. Challenge 2–Add An IP
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        3. Challenge 3–Find The IP
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Shakespeare
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        5. Challenge 5–Iron Designer Challenge (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
      5. Non-Digital Shorts
    2. 10. Creating Sequels
      1. Why Sequels?
        1. We Can Make It Better
        2. We Have the Technology
        3. We May Even Have the Content
      2. Types of Sequels
        1. Expansion Packs
        2. Mods
        3. Sequels
        4. Yearly Releases
        5. Spiritual Successors
        6. Clones
      3. Working on Sequels
      4. Honoring the Player
      5. Research
      6. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Let’s Do It Right This Time
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–Creating Monopoly 2
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        3. Challenge 3–Returning from the Dead
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        4. Challenge X+1: The Sequel
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Variants
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Infamously Bad (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      7. Non-Digital Shorts
    3. 11. Targeting a Market
      1. Why Do I Care? Isn’t This for Marketing People?
      2. Learning About Your Target Market
      3. Abilities of the Target Market
        1. Reading Abilities
        2. Learning Curve
        3. Cognitive Abilities
        4. Learning Style
        5. Physical Abilities
        6. Tactile Desires
      4. Focus Groups
      5. The Mass Market
      6. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Gears for Girls
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–Beyond DDR
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Targeting the Everyman
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Caribbean Targeted Tourism
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Easier Variant
          5. Variant
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–The Educational MMO
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
      7. Non-Digital Shorts
    4. 12. Learning an Unfamiliar Genre
      1. Why Start with Genre?
      2. How to Start
        1. Play, Play, Play
        2. Hit the Books
        3. Playing Versus Designing
        4. Review the Reviews
      3. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Sports Games
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Molding the Mob
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Idea Exploration
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Clueless
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Genre Change
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      4. Non-Digital Shorts
    5. 13. Designing a Game to Tell a Story
      1. Writer, Designer, or Both?
      2. Story Arcs
        1. The Three-Act Story Arc
        2. The Five-Part Hero’s Journey
        3. The Screenwriter’s Master Chart
      3. Narratology and Ludology
      4. Types of Stories in Games
        1. Linear Stories
        2. Branching Stories
        3. Open-Ended Stories
        4. Instances
        5. Emergent Stories
        6. Thematic Setups
        7. Algorithmic Stories
      5. Storytelling Methods
        1. Cutscenes and Cinematics
        2. In-Game Events
        3. Dialogue
        4. Text
        5. A Note About Interactivity
      6. Tell, Show, Do
      7. Setting and Character
        1. Character Design
        2. Environment Design
      8. Working Backward
      9. Choosing Mechanics to Match the Story
      10. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Who Are You?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        2. Challenge 2–Where Are You?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–What’s the Point?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–The Common Uncommon
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Narratologist’s Revenge (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
      11. Non-Digital Shorts
      12. References
  8. IV. Additive and Subtractive Design
    1. 14. Adding and Subtracting Mechanics
      1. Why Add Mechanics?
        1. Publisher Demand
        2. Changes in the Marketplace
        3. The Game Sucks
        4. A Sequel
        5. The Brainstorm
      2. Why Cut Mechanics?
        1. Ratings
        2. To Deliver on Time
        3. Core Check
      3. After the Tinkering
      4. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Poker and Dragons
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
          5. Variant
          6. Variant
          7. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Social Networking: The Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Strong Arm Scrabble
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
          5. Variant
        4. Challenge 4–Every Cent Counts
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Pick a Mechanic, Any Mechanic (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      5. Non-Digital Shorts
    2. 15. “But Make It Multiplayer”
      1. Looking Forward
        1. Being Alone Together
        2. Multiplayer, Multiplatform
        3. Multiplayer, Multipurpose
        4. Social Networking
      2. Types of Multiplayer Games
        1. Quantity-Based Distinctions
        2. Play-Based Distinctions
        3. Time-Based Distinctions
        4. Technology-Based Distinctions
      3. Issues in Multiplayer Game Design
        1. Dynamic Scalability
        2. Griefing
        3. Community Formation and Support
        4. Attract the Old or the New?
        5. Interface Issues
      4. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Old Games, New Life
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–“But Make It Multiplayer!”
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–Migratory Herds
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Stealth Educational MMO
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Socialtaire
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      5. Non-Digital Shorts
  9. V. Special Topics
    1. 16. Creating a User Interface
      1. Goals of the UI
      2. Affordances: Right = Easy, Wrong = Hard
      3. A Note About Accessibility
      4. Feedback
      5. The Process of UI Design
        1. What Are the Inputs/Outputs?
        2. Prioritize
        3. Find the Affordances
        4. Give Immediate Feedback for Your Inputs
        5. Reduce Everything
        6. Prototype
        7. Playtest!
      6. Intentionally “Bad” UI
      7. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–The Sports UI
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Twister 360
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Action RPG Subscreen
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–The Console RTS
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Invisible Interface (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      8. Recommended Reading
    2. 17. Games as Art
      1. Beyond the Visual
      2. Beyond Fun
      3. Passage: A Game That Almost Made Me Cry Patrick Dugan, Game Designer
      4. Columbine, Videogames as Expression, and Ineffability Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games
      5. On Authorship in Games Clint Hocking, Design Director, Ubisoft
        1. The Epistemological Argument
        2. The Argument to the Incompleteness of Authorship
        3. The Arguments from Noise and Nonsense
        4. The Argument from Legitimacy
        5. The Argument to Migrated Authorship
        6. Conclusion
      6. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–What Do They See?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Games as Art... or Not
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–Mona Lisa
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Create an Art Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–World of Pain
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
          5. Variant
      7. Non-Digital Shorts
      8. Resources
    3. 18. Games as a Teaching Tool
      1. What About Those Crazy Stories I Hear?
      2. Using Games as a Catalyst for Learning
      3. Designing and Modifying Games for Students
        1. Find the Fun
        2. Start with Systems
        3. Use Games They Play
        4. Assign Game Design
      4. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Old Game, New Life
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variants
        2. Challenge 2–Educational Entertainment
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        3. Challenge 3–Historical Battles
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Elementary, My Dear Level Designer
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Living History
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
      5. Non-Digital Shorts
      6. References
    4. 19. Serious Games
      1. Types of Serious Games
        1. Training Games
        2. Health Games
        3. Social-Commentary Games
        4. Advergames And Anti-Advergames
        5. Educational Games
        6. Social-Awareness Games
      2. The Purpose Is the Core
      3. The Focus Test
      4. Why Serious Games?
      5. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Katrina
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        2. Challenge 2–Festival of Acronyms
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Inspirational Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–A Strong Statement
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Seriously?
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
      6. Non-Digital Shorts
    5. 20. Casual Games
      1. Why Casual?
        1. Easy to Learn
        2. Reduced Complexity
        3. Casual Conflicts
        4. Short Play Time
        5. Lack of Commitment
        6. Family Friendly
      2. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Mismatch 3
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–Click, Click, Click, Click...
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–It’s Obvious
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Breaking the Rules
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
          4. Variant
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Knit 1, Purl 2 (Live)
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      3. Non-Digital Shorts
    6. 21. Social Networks and Games
      1. Categorizing Social-Network Games
        1. Macro-Category
        2. Play Depth Scott Jon Siegel, Game Designer
        3. Case Study: Area/Code’s Parking Wars
      2. What Works Best?
      3. Social-Network Propagation Mechanics
        1. The Pyramid Scheme
        2. Newsfeed “Testimonials”
        3. Newsfeed Play Updates
        4. Multiplayer Mandate
        5. Multiplayer Option
        6. Rewards Through Invite
        7. The Hostage Situation
        8. Retaliation
      4. Slowing the Spread
        1. Hitting Critical Mass
        2. Appearance/Embarrassment
        3. Embarrassment, Again
        4. Me Versus You
      5. High Score and the Social Network
        1. High-Score Alterations
        2. High-Score Loss
      6. The Future of Social Networks and Games
      7. Challenges
        1. Challenge 1–Get Your Feet Wet
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        2. Challenge 2–The Social-Net Board Game
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        3. Challenge 3–Wow! That’s Bad
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        4. Challenge 4–Linkedin Wants In
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
        5. Iron Designer Challenge 5–Social Networking, the Larp
          1. Components Required
          2. Deliverable
          3. Suggested Process
      8. Non-Digital Shorts
      9. Resources