Game system design

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Information about Game system design

Published on March 3, 2014

Author: lankoski



A lecture on game system design. Introduction to concepts for describing and discussing designs with examples. Some notes about evaluating game system behavior.

Game System Design Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

What Games are? Table-top RPGs Chess Eve Online September 12 Poker War Hammer 40 000 Doom Space Invaders Sims Graveyard World of Warcraft Sim City Flower Cow Clicker Heavy Rain Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

What Games Are?  There are prototypical games  Tetris, Chess, Space Invaders,…  Understanding what make these things tick help you to understand game design  BUT going out from the box might produce something very interesting  Sim City, Little people, Sims  Graveyard, Every day the same dream  However, if a game is too novel, players do not get it Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

What games are about  Meaningful decisions In other words  Twitch skill  That the players’ actions and choices have an impact  Puzzle solving  Challenges  Learning to play  Mastering the game Petri Lankoski Södertörn University  In the game  To the players’ emotions

What is game design?  Creating rules or game systems  Creating goals and challenges for players  Creating content  Not always purely game design  But content and game design are always linked Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Why Theories? What are your building blocks? How the building blocks relate to each other? What are the consequences of your design? Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Game Autopsy  Components  Game environment  Actions  What a player(s) can do  Verbs  Mechanics  Goals  Game State  Game View Petri Lankoski Södertörn University  This is a combination of  Brathwaite &Schreiber (2008)  Järvinen (2008)

Components  Components are something that can manipulate or owned  Components-of-self  Components-of-system  Components-of-other Components-of-other  Components in Chess  Components-of-self  Pieces that I move  Components-of-other  Pieces that another player moves  Components-of-system  Does not have Petri Lankoski Södertörn University Components-of-self Chessboard: Klin, ILA-BOY, Beao,

Game Environment  Area where the game take place  Area can be      Field as in Soccer, Ice Hockey, Basket ball Game board as in Chess, Backgammon Screen as in Space Invaders, Game world as in Elder Scrolls Designed or randomly generated,  But no clearly defined environment  Shadow Cities  Geocaching Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Actions  What players do when they play game  Actions can be expressed as verbs  Shoot, hide, sneak, drive Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Game State  All information that can change during the gameplay and that is needed to construct a situation in a specific moment  Consists of  All components, their positions, values  Who's turn it is (in turn-based multiplayer)  Possible previous game states when the previous states influence the current state Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Game State examples  Poker      Cards in hands Discarded cards Bot Who’s turn it is What is the stage in the game  Tetris     The position and rotation of falling blog Blogs on the ground Score Level Petri Lankoski Södertörn University Poker: image by Todd Klassy,

Game View  What kind of view a player have to the game state  Perfect Information  The game state is fully visible to a player of to all players  E.g., Chess  Imperfect Information  The game state is partly hidden  E.g., Poker Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Settlers of Catan  Components?  Game environment?  Actions?  Game state?  Game view? Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Mechanics  game system, algorithms or rules,  The core of game  Mechanics defines how game behaves Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Goals  What is the goal of playing  What is needed to win the game  Victory conditions / conditions for loosing game  Important for motivating play Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Dynamics  Patterns that happens when the game system is motion, in use  Approximately the same as Gameplay  Same dynamics in (among other dynamics)     Bridge Trump Spades Core mechanics is trick-taking  Same core mechanics -> similar dynamics  But dynamics depends on implementation and other mechanics in the game Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Core Mechanics  Territorial acquisition  Chase or evade  Prediction  Trading  Spatial reasoning  Racing  Survival  Destruction  Not exhaustive list  Building / Resource management  These are commonly used  Collection Petri Lankoski Södertörn University  Very useful

Core Mechanics  Tetris  Spatial reasoning  Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne  Building/Resource management + Trading Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Theme  A game can have a theme  Visual theme vs narrative theme  Example  Ico is a game about a boy who get captured because he is different to others and he needs to escape  Not all games have a theme  Poker  Tetris Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Where to Start?  What this game is about?  How do I play?  Verbs  How do I complete the game/How do I win?  Goals  What challenges I face?  Obstacles, enemies  What are the things I need to do to reach the goals?  Why I do want to play? Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Work with the Limitations  Game design is about working with limitations  Limitations are not negative thing  Limitations force you to be creative!  Set limitations for the design  Our game should contain  A core mechanics, a design pattern, etc.  E.g., territorial acquisition, ROLE-REVERSAL, one-button control  Our game should not contain  Limit away the most obvious direction  E.g., No shooting  The style of the game is  E.g., Dali-like, cute animals, pop art, wild west + magic Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Some Tricks to Overcome Designers Block  Kill a rule, remove a feature  Limit or unlimit a resource  Take one random design patterns from Björk & Holopainen and add that to the game  Change a value in the game system or in rules  Multiply or dive by two  Change the visual theme or narrative theme  Try something very different to the current one Test or simulate the design after a change to get a fresh perspective Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Evaluating system behavior  Play-testesting  Simulations  Simulations can help to understand how a part of the system behaves  One does not need ready game for simulation  Does not replace playtesting  But simulation can show the features work in the long run  Balancing weapons & troops  non-symmetrical things are hard to balance Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Simulating a game system  Model  sum of two six sided dice -> sum of two random numbers between 1 to 6  Weapon: change to hit, damage dealt & fire rate  Simulating system  Run model many times to learn how the system behaves  Run 50000 times and calculate distribution or averages, average damage per minute, etc. Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Settlers of Catan Simulation  How the players gain resources  Simplified  Robber vs no robber discard  Only resource amount simulated, not types  Assumptions  Four player game  0-3 resources at hand when ones turn ends  Model for using resources  One specific board set-up  The results does not vary much board to board  The results can vary with not optimal settlement placements  50 000 iterations used Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Settlers of Catan… • 4 victory point set-up • Settlements -> cities • 6 victory point sim • 1&2) 8 victory point sim • Note the optimal settlement placement in initial placement Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Settlers of Catan: Model #!/usr/bin/python import random from collections import Counter # board model (2 victory points) field1 = { 2: {'white': 0, 'blue':0, 'red': 0, 'orange': 0}, 3: {'white': 0, 'blue':0, 'red': 1, 'orange': 1}, 4: {'white': 1, 'blue':1, 'red': 0, 'orange': 0}, 5: {'white': 0, 'blue':2, 'red': 1, 'orange': 0}, 6: {'white': 1, 'blue':1, 'red': 1, 'orange': 1}, 8: {'white': 1, 'blue':1, 'red': 1, 'orange': 1}, 9: {'white': 1, 'blue':0, 'red': 0, 'orange': 1}, 10: {'white': 1, 'blue':0, 'red': 1, 'orange': 1}, 11: {'white': 0, 'blue':0, 'red': 1, 'orange': 1}, 12: {'white': 0, 'blue':0, 'red': 0, 'orange': 0} }  The above model does not contain handling for robber  Full code: y Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Catan: Resource gain Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Catan: Robber Effect Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Catan: Balance of set-up 1 2 3 4 White 2.0553 2.6120 3.1700 3.7267 Blue 2.0761 2.6593 3.2396 3.8224 Red 2.0808 2.6661 3.2496 3.8348 Orange 2.0892 2.6745 3.2605 3.8454 • Resource gain for each color is very similar • White might have small disadvantage Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Catan: What can one learn?  Easy to run what if scenarios  Robber -> discard all  Discard if more than four resources  Estimating the costs for building  Balance of the the initial set-up Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

References  Brathwaite & Schreiber, 2008, Challenges for game designers. Charles River Media, chapters 1-2  Järvinen, 2008, Games without frontiers, Tampere University Press, chapter 4. Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

Questions comments, confused, disoriented? Petri Lankoski Södertörn University

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