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The Rules of Game Design

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iwog 23rd January 2008, 10:32 Quote
Hmmm Black there's a game with major flaws. You'd think that you'd jest get to go around killing terrorists and the such but its actually a whole web of intrigue which my house mate (who's completed it) and myself never got. Used to end up doing my washing up during the cut scenes and loads on the PS2 version.

Felt more like work then a game especially with the 90+ minute levels on the first run through and the fact you could suicide right at the end of the game after killing the final boss guy thing. Add in making you restart the 90+ min level all over again if you got frustrated and dared to turn the console off, yes there were checkpoints but they dont save between instances. Was a laugh for the first couple of levels I played.

Who knew using a shotgun to blow a door off its hinges in the first minute could motivate someone to play a game for the better part of 3 hours.
willyolio 23rd January 2008, 10:45 Quote
Kingdom hearts. one major aggravating moment i had was near the beginning. first, i picked the "expert" difficulty, thinking the game wouldn't be that hard. it wasn't, for the most part.

secondly, i decided to explore. i went to tarzan's world before i was supposed to. whoops.

mandatory landing sequence.

autosave right before the boss.

unskippable cutscene right before the boss.

boss is too hard for me to beat (on my first 8 tries, anyway.)

now THAT was annoying.
DougEdey 23rd January 2008, 10:56 Quote
Halo 3 save system: What the hell are you smoking? There's autosave checkpoints that reload automatically when you goto "Continue campaign" on the main screen. There's "Reload last checkpoint" and so on. The missions aren't particularly long and you can jump between the chapters.
Bauul 23rd January 2008, 11:14 Quote
Nice article, I'd agree with all of the points, although I think you missed a more important one than the "no FMVs" rule, which is simply:

Don't mix media.

Whilst no-one would claim a game engine looks like real life, you suspend your disbelief whilst your playing. However, as soon as a game changes media, from in game engines to prerendered sequences or FMVs, it instantly and totally kills any kind of immersion as you are instantly reminded you're playing a game. For the matter, if you can avoid it, try to maintain the media of NPC communication. There is nothing more blatently obvious and immersion destroying than having certain NPCs communicate with spoken words, and other (less important) characters only use text. Either use all text or all words, don't mix them! It reeks of short-sightedness and shallowness in the game. And for the love of god if you're going to have subtitles, make sure they match the spoken words (Stalker I'm looking at you here).

And of course the most important game rule of all time:

Style over substance never works
antiHero 23rd January 2008, 14:54 Quote
On the topic of difficulty.

Skate for 360 is horrible in that sense. The first 60% of the game is a stroll down lollipop lane before you hit face first into a brick wall. Its unbelievable hard from one second to the other and i am stuck with missions i think are impossible. Other then that the game is awesome.
Freedom 23rd January 2008, 14:59 Quote
Nice article but C&C would be C&C without the FMV's the scene where cheesy but that was a part of the game. "From God to Kane to Seth" Legendary. The did go a bit too cheesy with the Estien charter in Red alert 2
Zurechial 23rd January 2008, 15:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
And of course the most important game rule of all time:

Style over substance never works

I have to disagree there, and I would cite the Max Payne series as a good example as to why style over substance can work very well when properly applied.

-

Joe, I think the reference to Thief: The Dark Age should actually be to Thief: The Dark Project ?
Unless you were going for a witty portmanteau of Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age to refer to both games as a single entity. :p
Thacrudd 23rd January 2008, 16:34 Quote
Rule 3: Communicate goals clearly and immediately:
Anyone remember the original Legend of Zelda or Metroid? lol I had no idea what I was doing and still played them for hours.
I found Crysis to be quite buggy. It was alot of little things but nothing too major.
MonkeyNutZ 23rd January 2008, 17:17 Quote
Very nice, with the addition of one new rule, "all new games must have explosive barrels, no matter how unrealistic they may be."
completemadness 23rd January 2008, 18:00 Quote
Not sure i agree with all the points you made, but in general, spot on :)
g3n3tiX 23rd January 2008, 19:41 Quote
Great article, as always !
Lots of Valve games in these lists...
Keivz 23rd January 2008, 23:05 Quote
Well done. Though you left out my most important rule: Don't leave out features that were previously present (e.g. features left out in a sequel) or SHOULD be present (i.e. standard features).

Prime example: Replays. EA racing games for some reason have been missing this standard feature that was previously present. This enrages me!!!

Oh, and one more: if it makes sense to have a custom soundtrack, include a custom soundtrack. This should be very easy on PC games, though it seems as if game designers go to great lengths to prevent customization of soundtracks (e.g. proprietary or hidden music files). A custom soundtrack option can make a good game into a great game (or for me, a rental into a purchase).

Keivz
P.S.
NFS:MW also had decent, albeit campy, use FMVs.
Firehed 23rd January 2008, 23:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
Halo 3 save system: What the hell are you smoking? There's autosave checkpoints that reload automatically when you goto "Continue campaign" on the main screen. There's "Reload last checkpoint" and so on. The missions aren't particularly long and you can jump between the chapters.

Nah, the autosave systems are always bad compared to a quicksave/quickload system. Even in the first level, I'd autosave just before an unskippable cutscene (oh-ho!), albeit a short one, get my ass kicked, and promptly watch the thing again. Now the first level was the only one I played through on my own as I did the rest on co-op (and playing with someone good helped out quite a bit), but it's just an awkward system. For one, you know a major battle is coming up, and at least half the time it always seems to stick you in a very inopportune situation. Blah.

Generally speaking, agreed on all ten points. Some games have used FMVs effectively, but plenty more have overdone the thing and ruined it.
Woodstock 24th January 2008, 00:00 Quote
never make enemy re spawn when you leave the map and come back again, its annoying as hell
Multiplectic 24th January 2008, 01:28 Quote
I think LoTR: The Return of the King had good use of FMVs. Albeit unskippable, they were well implemented.
willyolio 24th January 2008, 04:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstock
never make enemy re spawn when you leave the map and come back again, its annoying as hell
that depends on the game you're playing. it's annoying when they DON'T do that in an RPG, especially when i want to level up.
Woodstock 24th January 2008, 05:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by willyolio
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstock
never make enemy re spawn when you leave the map and come back again, its annoying as hell
that depends on the game you're playing. it's annoying when they DON'T do that in an RPG, especially when i want to level up.

i find it annoying in an rpg as its generally all the low level crap that's respawning
CardJoe 24th January 2008, 08:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstock
never make enemy re spawn when you leave the map and come back again, its annoying as hell

In some games though, like System Shock 2 or No One Wants To Live Forever 2, that makes sense. In SS2 it makes things scarier and makes the ship more populated. In NOLF2 enemies respawn from certain points and pour back into the level again if you set an alarm off: reinforcements.
Bauul 24th January 2008, 10:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurechial
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
And of course the most important game rule of all time:

Style over substance never works

I have to disagree there, and I would cite the Max Payne series as a good example as to why style over substance can work very well when properly applied.

Come on, Max Payne was hardly void of substance. I'd say Max Payne is a good example of a game that matched style and substance perfectly. Whilst a lot of effort went into the noir feel of the game and the much-touted bullet time, it did actually add a huge amount to the gameplay and really made the game as good as it was. Something like Doom 3, however, was really too much style over substance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
In some games though, like System Shock 2 or No One Wants To Live Forever 2, that makes sense. In SS2 it makes things scarier and makes the ship more populated. In NOLF2 enemies respawn from certain points and pour back into the level again if you set an alarm off: reinforcements.

N'ah, I'm with Woodstock on this one, infinitely respawning enemies are the scurge of many a good games. Setting off an alarm and thus spawning enemies is fine, as you can avoid it, but just having them endlessly appear out of nowhere to add 'tension' (read annoyance) just sucks ass. It's one of the major flaws of SS2 in my opinion. What they should have done, instead of endlessly respawning zombies, was have the zombies stunable, but essentially unkillable, so you'd 'kill' them, they'd fall down, but five or ten minutes later (after you'd long since left the room) gotten back up again. All the fear of a repsawning enemies system, with none of the immersion killing, game breaking, ****-baggness that having actual respawning enemies result in.
CardJoe 24th January 2008, 10:46 Quote
Hm. Maybe in SS2. Thing is, there's a patch to remove respawning bad guys and with it on then game feels very empty. You get the sensation there must only have been about 20 people on both of the space ships, which is vaguely ridiculous. The respawning enemies would be a flaw in many a game, but it works very well with the weapon degradation I feel.

I think Max Payne was a classic example of too much style and a decent amount of substance. The plot was great, the gameplay brilliant and the way the story is told is good...at first. By the time I got to the fourth level or so though, I was pretty damn sick of gravelly voiced introspection being rammed down my throat in slow motion every ten minutes. It needed to lay off just a little bit and stop with all the deep, drunkenly-voiced exposition

"I went in the room and there was blood on the floor. I'd just shot someone again and felt nothing - was I going numb with the cold outside or had I been desenstized long before; shocked into infinite complacency by my dead child and the sea of deciet and drugs I had lain in ever since?"

No, Max: you're just an emo kid with a gun and not enough guts for a suicide. Please be quiet for a bit.
Bauul 24th January 2008, 11:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
"I went in the room and there was blood on the floor. I'd just shot someone again and felt nothing - was I going numb with the cold outside or had I been desenstized long before; shocked into infinite complacency by my dead child and the sea of deciet and drugs I had lain in ever since?"

No, Max: you're just an emo kid with a gun and not enough guts for a suicide. Please be quiet for a bit.

"I stared at the screen, the words seeping into my consciousness like blood from a bullet wound. At first I was confused, angry. My fists clenched like a starving cobra right before a meal; the cries of a dead child echoing through my brain like dried leaves, stained with the blood of the *******s who took her from me. But then the truth hit me, full in the face like a train wreck from my own tortured unconscious. I could spend my whole life chasing demons, but when the big crunch inevitably came, the ******* was absolutely right: I was an emo kid."
completemadness 24th January 2008, 15:34 Quote
P.S. Why are you ragging on UT3 for unskippable intros, just left click ..... (only the ESRB/licence screen is unskippable)
Bauul 24th January 2008, 16:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
P.S. Why are you ragging on UT3 for unskippable intros, just left click ..... (only the ESRB/licence screen is unskippable)

At what point does Joe say UT3s cutscenes are unskippable?
completemadness 24th January 2008, 16:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Page1
Rule 1: No unskippable cutscenes
This is the first and most important rule of designing a game in my opinion. Nearly every game has cutscenes in some way, shape or form. It can be as long and tedious as one of Kane’s rambling speeches in Command and Conquer or it can be as simple as the sponsorship logos at the start of UT3. Either way, they should be skippable. No exceptions.
They are, however, skip-able
Bauul 24th January 2008, 16:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
Quote:
Originally Posted by Page1
Rule 1: No unskippable cutscenes
This is the first and most important rule of designing a game in my opinion. Nearly every game has cutscenes in some way, shape or form. It can be as long and tedious as one of Kane’s rambling speeches in Command and Conquer or it can be as simple as the sponsorship logos at the start of UT3. Either way, they should be skippable. No exceptions.
They are, however, skip-able

Read the quote you yourself posted again. All Joe said is that every game has cutscenes, from Command and Conquer to UT3. He wasn't even yet talking about whether they were unskippale or not.
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