Arcade Mode Versus Simulation Mode

Switching into arcade mode skews the play toward lots of action and relatively few slow-paced game states, such as strikeouts or walks. Arcade mode makes the game more exciting at …

THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND

The Secret of Monkey Island, now nearly 20 years old, remains worth studying because it spawned a highly successful franchise. Although it is ostensibly set on a Caribbean island in …

Human Intelligence Instead of Artificial Intelligence

In single-player games, the player competes against the computer, so the computer has to have enough artificial intelligence (AI) to be a good opponent; building the AI for a complex …

Kaye Elling’s Five Cs

Kaye Elling was creative manager at Blitz Games on the Bratz series, and in 2006 she gave an insightful lecture called "Inclusive Games Design" at the Animex festi­val in the …

WHY DO WE HAVE CHARACTER LEVELS?

The notion of character levels is so ingrained in the culture of role-playing that most players take it for granted. However, there's no intrinsic mathematical reason why we, as game …

Other Vehicles

Flight and driving simulators are by far the most popular kinds, but there are other sorts of vehicle simulators as well, usually for niche markets. The last few years have …

DIRECT CONTROL INTERFACES

In a direct control user interface, the player steers the avatar around the game world, rather like driving a car. On a console controller, the joystick or D-pad nor­mally manages …

DESIGNING TO REDUCE COLLUSION

The designer of an online game must try to anticipate collusion as much as possi­ble. Unfortunately, experience shows this to be extremely difficult. There are nolimits on players' ingenuity or …

Game Structure

The main gameplay mode in a sports game is match play, simulating the sport itself as it is played. Players can usually pause the game, which normally brings up a …

Hybrid Games

The Civilization, Dungeon Keeper, and Settlers series are all hybrid games, each one a cross between a CMS and a war game. In addition to their economic challenges, all feature …

GAMEPLAY IN GOD GAMES

The primary challenge in a god game is to produce population growth, but the player cannot defeat the rival god simply by helping his own population. He mustalso do damage …

The Player-Killer (PK) Problem

No aspect of the design of persistent worlds has been debated more than this one simple question: Should players' avatars be allowed to kill one another? The next few sections …

Simulating Matches Automatically

Sports games that simulate an entire season for a whole league of teams often pro­vide a means of simulating matches automatically without the player's having to play them. Each team …

THIRD-PERSON PERSPECTIVE

The third-person perspective keeps the player's avatar constantly in view, as in Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, an action-adventure hybrid. This perspective is common for action-adventures in which the …

Online Gameplay Versus Local Multiplayer Gameplay

Multiplayer gameplay, whether online or local, offers great flexibility to the game designer, allowing purely competitive (everyone for himself), purely cooperative(us against the machine), or team-based (us versus them) play. …

A Few Misconceptions

Because people see fewer girls than boys playing hardcore games, they tend to jump to conclusions about what girls want. This section corrects a few of these misconceptions. ■ Girls …

Magic and Its Equivalents

Magic is such a distinctive aspect of role-playing games that we'll look at it in a sep­arate section. Note that for magic you can substitute psychic powers, spiritual power, mental …

Tanks and Mechs

Tank simulations seldom implement the complexity of tank battles as they really happened in World War II, the Arab-Israeli wars, or the Gulf War. Real tanks have a top speed …

Manipulating Objects

Determining how the player should manipulate objects presents one of the greatest challenges of designing an adventure game. The player typically must figure out what to do with particular objects …

Technical Security

People feel a strong impulse to test the limits of computer software—to see what it will do with nonsensical inputs (such as firing upon their own troops in a war …

Gameplay and Rules

The challenges and actions of a sports game are those of the actual sport but with the actions of the athletes' bodies mapped onto the control devices of the game …

The Construction Converter

Construction is a conversion activity that changes labor, money, and materials into buildings (or whatever the CMS constructs). Construction happens only when the player wants it to, so she controls …

Genetic A-Life Games

Some A-life games involve managing a population of creatures over time. Rather than concentrating so much on individuals, the player tries to achieve certain goals with the population as a …

FACTION-BASED PVP

A number of persistent worlds allow players to belong to factions. These can be as small as gangs or as large as entire nations at war. The rules enable players …

The Game World

The setting of your game will be the normal venue for the sport, usually a stadium or an arena. It adds a great deal of verisimilitude to present these as …

Player Roles

In most video games, the player's role is largely defined by the challenges offered, whether as an athlete in a sports game, a pilot in a flight simulator, or a …

PROBLEMS WITH LOCAL PLAY

Local play as just described presents the game designer with serious difficulties. For one thing, because all the players share the same TV, any user interface elements displayed must be …

Accessibility Issues

Although it took them a while to get around to it, Microsoft now leads the world in making their operating system and office products available to people with disabili­ties of …

Skills and Special Capabilities

In addition to the basic human-like characteristics—strength, intelligence, beauty, and so on—most RPGs let characters use and improve special skills and capabilities. CRPGs allow the player's character to learn new …

Intellectual Property Rights

As a general rule, you can depict and simulate military equipment without obtain­ing permission from their manufacturers. Because such machines are not sold to the general public or generally exploited …

IDENTIFYING ACTIVE OBJECTS

With the advent of 3D-modeled worlds and powerful physics engines, just about every object that's not part of the scenery can, theoretically, be manipulated or picked up by the avatar. …

USE A SECURE TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROTOCOL

It takes an extremely dedicated hacker to tamper with the data stream between the client software and the server, but it takes only one. If the stakes are high enough, …

Competition Modes

Sports games, unlike most other games, allow all possible modes of competition. Depending on the sport and on how many input devices your platform supports, you can offer single-player, competitive, …

Drains and Maintenance

A drain is a feature that takes a resource out of the game for good. Decay is the usual drain in construction and management simulations: Buildings or other entities wear …

LIFE SPAN, MATURITY, AND NATURAL SELECTION

Each of your creatures needs a natural life span, or your population will explode. (In Creatures, the life span of a Norn is about 30 real-time minutes.) If you want …

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