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Article - 'Mini-games and Gameplay' by Fighter

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004


Another fine gamemaking article from Fighter, focusing on various areas and ways to improve gameplay in your games.


Welcome, this is my 3rd Article(this weekend nontheless). In this article, I Fighter, am going to describe gameplay and how it factors into your game.

Did you ever play a game that just goes straight through? Did you ever want a to try a game like no other, but once you played you felt that it was lacking something? Well, the game was probably lacking the gameplay factor, let me dive in and describe gameplay to you.

Gameplay is the extra bit of salt on an already tasty game, but it can turn a sour game into a sweet masterpiece. Gameplay is more than sidequests and extra battles, gameplay is described as off topic games, minigames, and a break on an intense adventure. Many things can be factored into the gameplay part of your game, but too much at an unbalanced rate can turn your game into another train wreck. Gameplay is NOT essential in a game, but it could help determine the game's amount of fun, enjoyablity, and gameplay. Gameplay can also be described as interaction, such as NPC's that say something at random instead of the same exact thing repetitively, I would consider gameplay like bonus points on a test, but in this case a review. Everyone loves a break after all...

Okay, first is an example of a pretend rm2k game called "Billy's Adventure". Let's just say the goal is to go to the monster's lair and destroy the monster. Let's the creator set up the game as following:

NPC's say the same thing throughout the game
A straight walk to the villain
Random Battles to get stronger
And a battle for the final boss
Once the battle is over, the title screen reappears.

That is an above average portrayal of a game with a lack of gameplay, but he is how it could be with gameplay.

NPC's say random things that portray to the subject
A minigame where billy must catch falling items
Minigames to get stronger
Minigame Collusuem
Dodge the monster's fireballs a minigame
Once the battle is over, you must run out of the cave within 30 seconds

That portrays plenty of gameplay, but like salt or sugar, too much of the same thing is a bad thing. The following is an example of what would be too much:

A minigame to catch falling items
A minigame to catch falling treasure
A minigame to catch falling gold
A minigame to dodge falling monsters

That would get very tedious and annoying, the game would have too much gameplay of the same thing, and would ruin the gameplay factor for too much. That is why you must balance it out equally. Many games fail to do this and sadly fail just because of that. It is okay to have lacking parts of the game, but few and far apart, add a minigame or two.

Next, DO NOT make minigames mandatory, everyone has different tastes and maybe what you hail god is what another finds as trash. It is very important not to, just make sure that the player can actually find where the minigame is incase they do want to play it.

Next, try to actually make the minigames fun. Don't strive for what you think is your best, strive for what you want. If a minigame isn't fun, it's better not to have one at all. Make sure that the game has something to do with the story's connection so it isn't a random game, yet again a little...odd.

The most important step of making minigames, is TEST TEST TEST. It is a must that the games are complete, not bugged, and fully functional. You should not only test, get friends, family, people off the net. Get peoples' opinions and comments. Most of all, have fun making the minigames.:)

Next, NPCs and how to improve them:

The following is an example of a boring npc:

Man:Hello, welcome to (insert name here).

Instead, make it more like this

Howdy, ya'll not new to them fishers?

With that, you added dialect, making the game a little more realistic, thus adding onto gameplay, but that's just the beginning of realism's part in Gameplay.

Next, is another example, but a little more randomized.
First Time:
Ya'll are welcome to have a good ol' stay at mah house. Yuns like it there.
Second Time:
Ya'll wanna see me again? What questions?
Third Time:
Yes? Ya'll want something?
Fourth Time:
Yuns better go to the house, I'm perdy dern busy.

See, it's a lot more interactive talking to someone like that, than the first one. The man has dialect and says something different each time. Two more steps with NPCs to cover though.

The following is an example of a boring guard:

Cannot enter.

Now add some action. *indicates action*

*Running Around Patroling*
Seen any criminal behavior?

That is a little more entertaining, but we forgot the dialect factor. Let's give him an old british dialect.

*running around patrolling*
Thouest, needs to see thine highness's royal will of thouest conduct. Thouset see thine's loss of behavior?

That really gives it the needed feel, but don't stop there, we need to add randomization.

First Time:
*running around patrolling*
Thouest, needs to see thine highness's royal will of thouest conduct. Thouset see thine's loss of behavior?

Second Time:
*Jumping up and down*
Thouest saw thine's crinimal clan!

Third Time:
*Eating a sandwhich*
Thouest's baking clan makes good bread, thine's gold is well spent.

Well, that is it for dialogue, just remember those dialogue factors and you should do fine. Minigames, as you saw, can be good and bad. Hopefully, yet again, I gave you a factoring opinion on the many things that make up gameplay, but what I said was just the beginning, there was is much more.

Again, this is Fighter, MSN:Fighter Concluding another article, hopefully I helped you in a way, have questions? Contact me through Msn or pm.

Thanks, Fighter.