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Article - 'Adding Variety' by AutumnDragon

An item about Game Design posted on Dec 11, 2004

Blurb

Is your game uninteresting and every map looks the same? Well this may help with that.

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Adding Variety

Okay, I am starting to see so many games that don’t have enough variety including some of my own. I’ve realised that a game needs a mixture unless it has a theme of some kind, e.g. Harvest Moon.
You’ll probably be wondering what I am getting at. Well, I’ll divide it into three groups. Your game is mostly likely to lack in one of these.

1. Lack of unique character personalities.
2. Lack of different styles of scenery.
3. Lack of variety of people.

I’ll stop blabbering here and get down to what my point is.

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Lack of Unique Character Personalities

There aren’t many games out there now that have a variety of personalities in their characters… or they will, but just manipulated it from another game.
Okay, here is an example of lack of variety.
‘Three heroes are sitting around a table deciding on where this evil force is coming from. After a while of thinking, researching and discussing the situation, one of the heroes (probably the main character) comes up with an idea. The others, they agree and go along with it.’

What’s wrong (apart from the bad example itself) is that the characters didn’t put much of an input and their own opinions were not shown. It is not that realistic. Perhaps if one of the characters didn’t agree, or perhaps had their own idea and said something, it would be more interesting.

Characters personalities can be shown in many different ways, which makes you love ‘em or hate ‘em. Here are some tips on personalities, but obviously they have a lot more traits.

Fussy = Moaning, complaining, taking charge
Lonely = Very quiet, melodramatic, suicidal
Happy-go-lucky = Cheery, jumpy, eccentric, cheers other on.
Smart = Thinks a lot, comes up with ideas, speaks using very long words.
Selfish = Thinks about themselves, only their opinion matters, won’t listen to others
Ambitious = Always thinking about advancing their skills further, wants to be the best…

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Lack of Different Types of Scenery

Unless your game is set in one particular area, then travelling through a forest for nearly the entire game is boring. What’s more boring is that the towns are about as much the same as each other.
This is a big problem when using RTP only. Everything looks the same.

What can you do to make it different?

1. Makes sure the maps have plenty going on in them.
2. Don’t forget to add wildlife to the map unless your map is pure human or whatever. (0.o)
3. Sound effects add to the atmosphere.
4. Weather effects maybe?
5. Different types of shops/guilds which the town is popular for? E.g. Famous magic market or thieves guild.


Scenery/Maps etc add up for a large proportion of your games popularity. Whenever you go to advertise your game in a forum, most members will want to look at your screenshots. Good screenshots improve the rate at which people will want to download your game.

Remember that it’s nice to have a variety of types due to climate. Perhaps one idea is to think of places you’ve been and try to recreate them. E.g. A French café or misty mountain or even a small park. That way you have a better idea in your head of what you are trying to create. It’s using your imagination really.

Snow
Forest
Plains
Desert
Marsh/Swamp
Cave
Mountain
Road
Town
City
Castle
Canyons
Ships/Boats
Beach
Rivers
Underground
Farm

And the list is endless really.

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Lack of Different Types of People

Fathers, Mothers, Children, Adventurers, guards/soldiers.
The five most popular NPCs in games so far. With most games, wandering around a town mostly consist of mothers fussing, children playing, fathers working and guards doing their job. Adventurers are usually travellers who give you a bit of advice.
But perhaps some more interesting characters could be added?
A circus perhaps, gypsies, tourists or drunks would be interesting. Make the towns you visit in your game different and interesting and this is well expressed by the people there. Remember that a nun doesn’t always need to be in a church or place of worship.

So here is a setting for you. It’s nearly Christmas, so include carol singers, Santa, reindeers, people shopping for presents. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s nice to recreate the setting for it or for anything festive.

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And that’s as much as I can help you with this topic. Hope you found it helpful in some way or another.

-AutumnDragon