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Article - 'What is a Game?' by Altamore

An item about Miscellanious posted on Aug 8, 2003


Greetings, I have just registered on GamingW and am here to post my first tutorial! This tutorial will cover a wide variety of general game information topics for creating RPGs and likewise games. It will assist you in making your game as best as possible, showing you what makes a game really tick. Let's get started!



What is a game?

By definition a game is:

Any form of play, amusement; activity or sport involving competition; a scheme, a plan; to play for a sake.

"Any form of play, amusement" "to play for a sake"

These are the major keys to a game, 1) it has to entertain the player and 2) there must be a point. A game can range from simple single level puzzles, to dynamic 3D worlds which take hour to cross. There are single player games and multiplayer games; others have thousands of people from all over the globe on at once. So, what is the best game? There is no best, it is pure preference. There are unlimited ideas out there, you make like one more than the next guy. Does that make the game any better? No. Everyone has a preference, which is a formal key. To create a (good) game you have to try to combine several types of preferences into one, to attract more attention from otherwise alias people. Also, never crunch your preferences together; let them flow into each other... Example:

'A' likes to wander around town streets and explore cityscapes, while 'B' likes puzzles. What is your first reaction?

Place a puzzle on the city streets? Wrong. Although this can be accomplished and work very well, you might put a puzzle in a building instead, or off to the side. Never force your players to do something they hate, unless it has something to affect the storyline.

You may have noticed there are a lot of exceptions when creating a game, as well as in real life. These exceptions can make or break your game. While some are superior, others will cause you to crash and burn in a horrible, bloody, skin peeling, ball of fire and death. Try to avoid exceptions that you question. If you don't know it will be great, don't bother.

Try not to drift between characters. You and the players are the main character. If you start to drift into other characters, you start controlling them for a bit in throughout your game. Next thing you know is your players are confused as to who is the main character? Why would I start a game as one and finish as another? Steer straight.

What is a character? A character is an embodiment, they are what your story feeds on, I like to call them story fuel because, the do just that. Characters should have an effect on the storyline somehow, if your main character has no effect on the storyline he is walking on a thin line between player and NPC. Characters should have deep background that unfolds over the course of the game (story). They should develop uniquely; no characters should be the same. If you have one huge, beefed up, tank of a character, you shouldn't have another. Also, the main character should be user controlled; the player should feel like they are the character. They should no be the strongest, the fastest, the wisest; they should be the best though. They should have a wide variety of skills to assist them, higher than normal damage amounts, and a fair bit of health.

Storyline should be deep, sense full, and awesome! It should be filled with action and have roots that grow deep into the soil that is GAME! You should fill your story with plot twists, swirlies, ups and downs, and of course, blood and guts. Not so many that you confuse your character, you must make the keep asking why and how throughout. Make it interesting!

Sorry, to jump around, but I have not prepared this prehand, will be releasing full guide sometime.

Back to the keys! So what are these keys that I forget to mention for about 4 paragraphs of useless ramblings. Keys are the structure of your game; there are five levels of keys...

Major: These are the main theories behind all games; they are what makes a game truly a game.

Formal: These are player defined; they are what makes your game worth it to many different players. Combining certain keys can sometimes be hard, trying not to push other keys out of the way.

Minor: These are small keys that rarely affect anything, things like "hit the switch." They never really affect the storyline, or character growth in any way. They are just there to add to the game play experience. There are hundreds, even thousands of these in a well planned out game.

Improper: These are keys that don't really have any purpose. These are things like "hit the !blue! switch." They tend to complicate things further and exist in other keys. Stand-Alone impropers are rarely found anywhere. They can have effect on the storyline but, need not.

Objective: These are the simplest and yet most complicated of things, they are place holders for keys, an example is "!hit! the !blue! !switch!" where as hitting the switch is the minor key, blue is the improper key and the switch itself is the objective key.

Most designers unknowingly create keys all the time. Some don't even have a point; they often create objective keys with no objective. A placeholder with nothing to hold? Try to avoid this, it may confuse the player and slowly drive them insane after trying to get to a chest you aren't intended to reach. Sometimes, it is good to do this is special and certain places just to get the player angry. You should reward them in some way after they realize that they wasted three hours wandering around aimlessly. There are countless games that drive players to quit because, exactly that. They waste precious time doing nothing.

The end game should be spectacular, it should make the player fell that it was worth while; they should have to defeat the "evil" and feel like they succeeded in some way.

Replay ability is a big issue in games, to extend on this you should add mini games that have really no relation to the story whatsoever, but keep the player hooked on beating them. Try not to make so many and so good that the player forgets they are playing your game, and the story starts to loose meaning. They should be rewarded after beating a game. Side quests are great; everyone likes finding extras and doing cool stuff. SQs shouldn't have any direct and bold relation to your story, mainly something to do to make it a little easier on the player and more interesting, a bathroom break.

That's all for this tutorial, I will release a guide and hopefully have it posted somewhere. Sorry if I jumped around way to much, the guide will include a polished copy of this with numerous pages of more information.

Please give feed back, positive or negative! No flames please!