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Article - 'Breaking Up' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Break up your games length by including some cool random bits and bobs.

Body

Breaking up your game can be quite difficult be very neccessary, especially when you have a long game.
Why Break a Game Up?
It is worth thinking about trying to break your game up to keep the player interested and add some well respected variation into it. All long games will need it, shorter ones won't but in the end all games shall benefit.

How Can We Know What Will Work?
Rather than guessing which can be awfully innaccurate we can just look at the games around us and see what they do and whether it worked. Again, not because everyone likes it but because everyone knows it I shall use Final Fantasy VII as my first example.
1 - Final Fantasy VII
Here are the ones I remember:
1. Snowboarding
2. Bike Racing
3. Submarine
4. Chocobo Breeding
5. Some Sub-quests
But then again that is all good and well but everyone includes some things like this in there game. Breath of Fire IV had fishing, finding dragon genes & summons, the crate lifting bits, etc. Personally what I admire more is the minor things, if we look at Final Fantasy VII again, maybe we can spot a few.
1. Running across without getting caught by guards (Shinra Head Quarters).
2. The Questions in shinra head quarters (by that dude, where you can get answers from the books nearby).
3. That wierd forest that opens up near cosmo canyon near around the time of the weapon.
4. Yuffie stealing your materia.
There are more but you get the picture yeah? Okie dokie, so you can now see that there are big noticeable things which help break up your game and then those little mini mini game bits which are good for that topping flavour. (If you class this as a meal...)

Some Inspirational Ideas
1. Riddles - Most games, ManaBat for one had a small piece whereby you must answer a series of questions. Now I would far from class this a mini game but it does get the player thinking and is the perfect way to take them away from the game for a moment.
2. The Chase - I haven't played any games where this was done (from my memory) but I had it in one of my very old games, a mere section where you are chased by something big or multiple people. Whether they kill you upon catching or do some damage until dead, the choice is yours but bare in mind that having to run away from something will get the player on their toes and if done correctly, scare them silly.
3. The Chase Part Deux - Being chased is all good and well but to get someone really thinking you should make them have to catch one or more things which are moving at an incredible pace. This will shut their very sorry face up for while!
4. Finding People - Being such a good game and all maybe you could do something like the grand Suikoden where you have to gather an army. This would be good with the player having to search for people in their army. Unlike Suikoden you could make it neccessary to collect all or a certain amount of people.
5. Fill The Bars - I forget what the game was called but you could use a set of bars for your hunger, tiredness, etc. Having to keep all bars filled whilst playing the game. This could be made a nice challenge but if done too badly this could really piss the player off! You've been warned!

I hope that I have helped you gain ideas for what you could do to break up your game (the smaller things) of course the big things are easy for everyone to think of (snowboarding, fishing, football match, duels, racing etc).