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Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 13. NOW YOU'RE PLAYING WITH POWER

The power-up can be found in every genre of gaming, from driving and puzzle games to action-adventures and shooters. They are dropped by defeated enemies, hidden in treasure chests and breakable crates, and sometimes just lying all over the place in the middle of the road.

A well-designed power-up is concentrated action! A player only has to touch it to become energized to move at lightning speeds, blow up the world and return from the dead! The great thing about a power-up is its effects are immediate: who wouldn't want to immediately gain awesome power?! The only downside is that its effects are usually temporary, so use that power wisely. A designer should be wise when creating power-up and ask the following questions:

NOW YOU'RE PLAYING WITH POWER
  • What does the power-up do?

  • What does it look like? How will it (or its effects) visually stand out in the world? Does it glow or strobe? Rotate or bounce?

  • Can power-ups be combined or can the player only have one active at once? Can the player retrieve power-ups that are unused or discarded?

  • How does it affect the player's movement? Rate of speed? Number or type of attacks? Health or status?

  • How are its effects communicated to the player visually? Aurally?

  • What is the player's trade-off for using the power-up? Some reduce speed or mobility or the type of moves you can do while under the influence of the power-up.

  • If the power-up ...

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