15.10.15 – Designing for Genres

Different genres, attract a different audience so when making a game, it is important to know what genre you are designing for. The more familiar you are with the genre, the easier it will be to come up with ideas as they will come to you quite naturally.

Before we begin I would like to establish the different types of camera angles that games can have.

1st Person - more immersed in the game
1st Person – The game is rendered from the viewpoint of the player character. This graphical perspective has an immense impact on game play and tends to make the player feel more immersed.
3rd Person - stronger sense of identification
3rd Person – The player can see his character on the screen which which gives a stronger sense of identification.
Top Down/Isometric - better view of the game world
Top Down/Isometric – Where the viewpoint is rotated slightly to reveal other facets of the game environment thereby producing a three-dimensional effect.
Side-Scroller - A video game in which the gameplay action is viewed from a side-view camera angle, and the onscreen characters generally move from the left side of the screen to the right to meet an objective.
Side-Scroller – A video game in which the gameplay action is viewed from a side-view camera angle, and characters onscreen generally move from the left side of the screen to the right to meet an objective.

ACTION

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Someone who purchases an action video game is looking for the obvious – action! So needless to say, your goal as a creator is to keep the player moving at all times and to include a fairly constant stream of foes the player has to beat. This will give the user an adrenaline rush and will keep the gameplay interesting and intense. Generally hand/eye coordination is a must in action games and having quick reflexes definitely helps.

Level Design
When playing an action game, the player must always have a clear idea of what he has to do next so it is crucial to have good level design, otherwise the player’s movement is somewhat impaired which in turn ruins the pacing and flow of the game. A game which I think does this beautifully is Mirrors Edge. Notice how well thought out the level design is and how smoothly everything goes.

Although action games tend to be quite fast-paced, they usually have some breaks in between all the action that is going on which could include solving a puzzle, exploring the environment or interacting with other various characters.

Weapons
Typically, action games involve a fair amount of gunfire but not all do therefore it is important that the weapons you create are appropriate to game fiction you have created and must also be well-balanced. If the gun could be upgraded, make sure that the characteristics are interesting enough to make the player want to upgrade!

Since action is one of the most popular genres out there, it has many sub genres. A few examples are:

  1. Action-Horror/Survival

  2. Action-RPG

  3. Action-Adventure

  4. Action-Racing

  5. Action-Platform

Camera Positioning
1st Person, 3rd Person, Top Down/Isometric


ROLE-PLAYING GAMES (RPGs)

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RPG’s are one of the hardest games to make. They revolve around characters and their stories and also involve combat and take place in vast and expansive worlds.

Storyline
The storyline is definitely one of the most important elements in RPG’s. The story needs to capture the player’s attention and leave him immersed fully into the game. We also spoke about how side quests need to be interesting and somehow connected to main storyline. Some games might require you to build up an army and in order to do so you would have to complete side quests to gain a companion/s. In other games games one might realise that their character is not strong enough or does not have the required skills to complete a main quest or to kill off a certain enemy. Therefore, the player must go and complete side quests in order to level up and improve certain skills which would help him/her complete the main quest.

Levelling up & Skills
Having interesting attributes and skills to level up to is important as it is one of the main elements which make the player want to keep going. In my opinion, Skyrim has one of the best skills menu out there because of its variety and multitude of options.

Statistics
Because of the vast worlds RPG’s have, everything has to be pre-determined in order for the game to run smoothly. Statistics need to be on point and the game needs to keep a clear track of which areas the players have visited and who they have spoken to. Picking up the same gun or having to play a quest repetitively is not something the players would appreciate.

RPG’s Online
World-of-Warcraft8The core mechanics of RPG’s that are online are more or less the same as those that are offline. However, the fact that you are now playing with multiple people changes the experience altogether. Although the storyline doesn’t change much, the quests on the other hand do. Teamwork has now come into the equation and, rather than working in solidarity and depending on just your level of skill, you must now work as a team and might sometimes need to aid others in order to finish the quest. Another difference is that online RPG’s usually have a more expansive environment to cater for more people.

Camera Positioning
1st Person, 3rd Person, Top Down/Isometric


ADVENTURE GAMES

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Original adventure games include a combination of exploration with puzzle solving and, back in the day, used to look a lot like this:

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As you can see the above games are very static and text based. If for example you found an object in the game, it would usually display text saying something along the lines of “You have found a gold ring buried in the soil!”. Nowadays, that text has evolved into more real-time elements are made to look more like this:

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Storyline & Puzzles
For an adventure game to be successful it needs to have a good storyline accompanied by good puzzles. If the puzzles are impossible to do, it will leave the player angry and will eventually lead to him/her quitting the game and possibly never playing it again. The puzzles must have a good balance of difficulty, giving the player the right amount of pleasant frustration which is shortly followed by the joy and adrenaline rush of solving the puzzle.

The below video is a clip from Life is Strange in which the player needs to complete a short puzzle in order to allow Max (the protagonist) get past Victoria (the bully) in order to get into the dormitories.

Interface
This determines what kind of activities, puzzles and interactions the player will have. It is important to keep it simple and clean so that the player can do as much as possible with the least amount of effort required. The most common way of interacting in adventure games is point and click or free-form navigation.

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Camera Positioning
1st person and Side view


STRATEGY GAMES

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Strategy games are also a very hard genre to design due to the fact that so many actions are constantly being carried out by the player and the AI. Depending on he level of skill the player has can determine whether he/she wins of loses. A way to achieve a high level of skill is playing for thousands of hours and getting to know the gameplay well and building a good strategy.

Balancing the game
The key to a good strategy game is balance. Some of the most important elements for balancing the gameplay are:

  1. Resources

  2. Teams

  3. Units & Weapons

  4. Realism VS Fun

  5. Artificial Intelligence

  6. Map Design

I never thought I was a strategy game kind of person but I once went on a limb and purchased Civilization V and instantly fell in love with it and played it for hours on end. I don’t consider myself to be very skilled at strategy games so I’m too much of a coward to play it online (I would probably lose within 2 minutes of the game), however, I enjoy playing the game against the AI and fool myself into thinking that I’m getting better.

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Camera Positioning
Top Down/ Isometric


SPORTS GAMES

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Depending on what sports game you are playing, the gameplay changes accordingly. Various sports games use different formulas because each sport comes along with a different set of rules.

What makes a good sports game?
What people tend to look for in a sports game is realism and good graphics. The rules must be right an accurate because no one would enjoy playing, let’s say for the sake of the argument, a game football if the ball has a mind of it’s own. The rules of physics must be applied to it. Good graphics would help the player to see intricate details such as football players shirts and would also enable the player to follow the ball easily as opposed to graphics which would be pixilated and glitchy.

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The only sports game I played was Fifa and I only played it a maximum of 10 times. I’m definitely not a lover of sports games however a game called Rocket League which came out very recently caught my attention. Although I haven’t played it yet, I would like to get my hands on it an experience it for myself.

Rocket_League_coverartRocket League is a physics-based vehicle soccer video game in which players control a rocket-powered car and use it to hit a ball much bigger than the car itself towards the other team’s goal area to score. It resembles a soccer game but is set in an area which is reminiscent of a demolition derby. Check out the trailer below – looks fun doesn’t it?

Camera Positioning
Top Down/ Isometric


FIGHTING GAMES

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Although fighting games don’t tend to have a specific storyline and are quite simple and direct, they still have the ability to be very engaging. The best way to play a fighting game is with another player who is preferably sitting right next to you – some might say it’s what makes them fun and if you take that element away, the game would be ruined.

Since this genre uses very specific systems, there aren’t many rules that the player needs to learn, however having quick reflexes and being quick with your hands would definitely benefit you. The main goal is to fight your opponent by creating quick bursts of actions and moves and also performing combos to win the round/s.

Times-Mail / PETE SCHREINER Street Fighter IV screen shot

Graphics & Sound Effects
The graphics are also really important in order to have a good simulation experience. The last thing you want whilst performing awesome combos and moves is for the game to glitch making you miss all the action! Special graphics and sound effects should also be included as this adds to the intensity of the game.

Characters
Characterisation of the avatars is extremely important as they are what essentially give the player a sort of “story”. The different personalities and unique looks that certain characters have, accompanied by their own set of distinctive moves, could vary the gameplay quite a bit. It is also very important for the characters to be well-balanced in terms of weakness/strength and general appeal otherwise players would always choose the best avatar and never the weaker or less interesting ones.

The characterization in Mortal Combat, I think, is excellent. Each avatar has it’s own special combo that, if done correctly, will result in the character finishing off his/her opponent in his/her own special way. Quite gruesome, but nonetheless awesome.

Camera Positioning
Side View


SIMULATIONS

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The purpose of these games are to essentially give the person the opportunity to do things he cannot really do in real life, such as driving a train or flying a plane.

Because of this, these games have to be modelled to the T and graphics must be top notch in order to give the player the best real-life experience possible.

Although a simulation could be serious and very realistic, it could also be casual, fun and a little silly. Games such as Goat Simulator and Surgeon Simulator are a great example of this.

Camera Positioning
1st person, 3rd person, Top Down


Sorry for the long post – here’s a potato.

Baking Potato side view

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