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The Nerd Side Of Life

10 Elements of Good Game Design

Games have come a long way since the turn of the century but there are many fundamental features that remain the same. Fans of the RPG genre know how important good characters are, the vessel used by the developers to deliver the story to the player. Games like CS:GO might not require any story design but makes up for that with solid gameplay. Counter-Strike has even been responsible for a plethora of other game types, like CSGO themed slots, roulette, crash and jackpot titles. For a game that began its life as a mod, this is a huge feat, in comparison to where the game is today.

Below, we’ll be looking at some of the crucial aspects that game developers adhere to when creating some of our favorite gaming titles.

Clear Objective

Every game is in huge need of a very clear objective. The objective may be to cure a disease, survive the battles till the end, or even to garner the highest victory points. So, while developing a game, it must come with a very intuitive, concise, memorable, achievable and clear objective. In the first chapter of the rulebook, this should be in the first paragraph.

For instance, the objective in War Co is to make sure opponents run out of cards, making you the last man standing. Tasty Humans objective is to garner the highest points, because the game is driven by victory points.

Constraints

When there are no constraints to the pursuit of the objective, it will become a freeform play and not a game. The core of each game is made up of the objective, and then the constraints that prevent you from reaching the objective. In War Co, you are limited by energy use and the number of cards you can play. You are prevented from playing the best and strongest cards at once through energy use. However, in Tasty Humans, when monsters eat people and arrange their body parts in the mapped patterns in their stomach, they gain points. The way you can place tiles are limited too, and your desire is not always possible to achieve.

Interactive

You can discover a number of different types of interactivity in a nice game. The objective of the game must enjoy an interaction with constraints, whether it is expressed through tactics and strategy or through rules that you must obey. There must be a huge interaction between the game’s elements in unique and understandable ways all through the game. There are many drops of maneuverability between the pieces in a game of chase, just as there are complex ways of combining the cards in Netrunner. Except in solitaire games, some form of social interaction must be there, even if it’s not the party type. All the cards interact in War Co, as they are unique and with different effects. The major interaction comes in the friendly sparring as a match for the game’s ‘take that’ nature. Though ‘Tasty Humans’ is more like a solitaire game, a common pool of cards that every player interacts with and changes also exists.

Killer of the Runaway Leader

Games having a huge level of competition should maintain the tension till the last move. Skilled players are meant to enjoy their advantage, but the ones that lose earlier should be given the chance to catch up. If this is not the case, then players may leave the game in the middle when they think they have nothing else to play for. Some form of chance and luck should be incorporated even in games of skills

In War Co, your life depends on the number of cards you have left. You can reduce your discard rate, redraw old cards and take down your opponent through different avenues as you go down, even when you find yourself behind. This doesn’t apply in Tasty Humans because here, points are tallied at the end.

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Inertia

There must be a steady unfolding of interesting events in good games. The dialogue must be important and meaningful. You must avoid getting the players to feel the heat and buzz in the middle, only to disappoint them at the end. War Co had the same pacing, and the game didn’t lag. The ‘stalemate rule’ was available to keep the heat in the worst cases. It reminds players of heavy discarding if they fail to make a move, and this alone keeps the game going with the same tempo. But there are short turns in Tasty Humans, and through that, the game remains perpetually snappy, though it is a puzzle that bursts the brain.

Surprise

The magic of a game is destroyed when it is predictable. To avoid giving games a single path to victory, unique interactions and chance must be employed. If your game could be solved with an algorithm like a Rubik’s Cube, more surprise is definitely needed. The facedown card mechanics instilled the surprise element in War Co. Cards can be played face down by players, and they have the right to turn them face up whenever they wish, including when it is the turn of their opponents, delivering their effects right there and then. This leads to an espionage and counterespionage battle, which comes with a lot of bluffing. Not knowing the adventure that will be eaten by your opponents is it for Tasty Humans. When they choose, the ones available to you will be affected, in sometimes huge ways. So, planning out your turn beforehand does not guarantee that you get what you planned for.

Strategy

For people to play the game once, twice and even for the third time, interactivity, inertia and then strategy must be good. But for the game to remain evergreen, the idea that people can improve as they play it must be instilled. People must be encouraged by the games to master the games overtime. It is in strategy that War Co did marvelously, in some cases, even at the expense of the first and second games. The starter decks can only be understood after a few plays, because the combinations and secrets are so many. But once you become conversant with that, you will be pushed to create a personal deck – which is an entirely new type of strategy challenge. In Tasty Humans, strategy also abounds. All through the game, tiles must be placed in the stomach of your monster, in a way that for scoring tiles, you gain the highest points.

Fun

While this seems obvious, never forget it. You can’t hate the game you are playtesting and not abandon it. In the first ten iterations of War Co, it was trash. In the next four, it stalled, but in the 15th version, the fun started showing out. But in Tasty Humans, monsters fight humans, instead of humans fighting them, and this makes all who encounter the game, to laugh.

Flavor

If you want a great game, it has to be more than a technical masterpiece. Don’t just advance the mechanics when you playtest, instill some uniqueness into it. The artwork by ‘James Masino’ is where flavor was exemplified in War Co. here; he embraced color to deliver a psychedelic Technicolor operatic horror show, instead of the conventional gritty gray toned sci-fi apocalypse. In Tasty Humans, pretty pastel and bright colors were used to prevent the game from being entirely dark.

A Hook

Once your game has been given the unique and technically clever attribute, you have to do one more thing, a clever pitch. Come up with a clever logo, earworm, sound-bite, and marketing messages. The X factor must be there for your game to sell. Through this, people on the fence can come in and explore your great job. People can’t appreciate nuances unless you get them to come in. The art is the best hook for War Co, while the monster does it for Tasty Humans.

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