A Brief Look At Game DesignFebruary 21, 2022 2023-06-11 13:07
A Brief Look At Game Design
No individual can be outside of one 3 groups: you are either a gamer or have gamers all around you. Or both! Whichever category that you fit into, some time in your life you have probably been tickled by your curiosity about how games are created. Or who makes them, what’s the process like, what’s the cost and a hundred other questions that I’m going to leave out here.
Also, chances are that you have either never fed this beast of curiosity or, if you have, you have left the process mid-way as it has started to sound pretty complex and tedious with tons of technical words and things that hardly made sense to you.
Some games are so much fun to play while others are kinda weird or not as gravitating. Why is this the case? Well the answer lies within so many different factors that are outside of just the graphics and storyline.
Generally speaking, game design is part of the bigger picture of Video Game Development process.
Even though it is a relatively young field of work, it has managed to gain huge popularity over the course of its life. It is one of the most in-demand fields of work. It is exciting, fun, breathtaking and challenging!
Game design is also one of the major fields that has been gravitating a lot of attention from the new millennials as well as those who have not yet acquired any major skills in order to enter a specific targeted job market. Most children also perceive game design as a very fun and exciting area of interest. I mean if playing games can be so cool imagine how awesome designing them would be.
Now all the buzz aside, there are countless major benefits for children when it comes to designing games. They may not necessarily be creating GTA or call of duty, and I’m not saying they can’t because there are hundreds of thousands of children out there who are able to run and complete project as sophisticated as those, but instead they can learn to create games that are more basic which unlock their creativity and pulls them towards pursuing this field in long-term future.
Game design is not an industry that is going to diminish or go away neither easily nor in the near future. What this essentially means is that people who pursue this area, whether as a hobby or with a serious outlook to the future, will technically be making themselves prone to the future fluctuations of the job market. The major companies who create the games we play today are also not likely 2 disappear in the near future either.
Having said all that, we are going to dive deeper into the realms of game design in terms of what it actually is, who is an appropriate candidate for pursuing game design, what Indie Games are and the job opportunities for game designers.
Now let’s get started!
So What Is Game Design?
Game design may actually seem pretty self explanatory; after all it is Game Design. In this part we are going to discuss some of the main non-technical areas of game design.
Think of a video game you really enjoyed. Remember all those moments that boosted your mood, the times when you spoke with a ridiculous amount of passion about it with your friends. Or that time when you stopped playing and realized it has already been so many hours that you have been on the game!
Now I want you to think about how each of these memories and feelings were created. How did all that happen within the game? The answer to this question has many sides but the most important answer is this: you experienced all the fun and excitement because the game was designed specifically for you. Sounds unrealistic doesn’t it? Well let me elaborate.
The first step in creating a game is determining the audience. You need to ask yourself who is going to be your target audience and why would they be playing your game? What is “Fun” through their lenz. What this essentially means is that a game designer must put all their biases aside and start to tailor their ideas in a direction that is going to be most appealing for their target audience. The truth is that if you make a game and keep thinking about your own desires and preferences, you’ll end up being the only one who’s playing it.
A good designer will do some good research on their target audience so they will not go in the wrong direction. THey will consider things like whether their game is going to be for children or adults or even any specific ethnicity group. Do they prefer mind blowing VFX and graphics or are they going to enjoy the simplicity of the colors in the game environment?
Answering all the above questions and crafting the game towards their responses is not done by just one type of group or team. There are actually two main categories of game designers out there: the System Designers and the Level Designers. They have to work together like the pieces of a Rolex watch if they are keen on ending up with a catchy game that would drive the sales to the moon. But first let’s see what each of them exactly do.
This is the general gameplay your player will be experiencing throughout their time playing your game. These include how their character will jump or build or run or interact with their environment. This basically includes every single thing that the player is able to do within the game.
This field of work mostly deals with conceptual arts and designs. System designers most often work with many theories, sketches and paper designs and this can take a very long time to complete depending on the game that you are designing. For example, for a game like GTA this process can take months or even years to complete. The system design team must prepare hundreds of prototypes and spend countless hours presenting their work in order to come to a conclusion that is likely to be better received by their audience.
Creating a new game from absolute scratch is not easy. WHo the character is, what he can do, how he reacts to certain events, their movement, actions, interactions and so many other things must be thought of and designed without any prior models. It has to be catchy and purposeful while being appealing to the player at the same time. The appearance of the character must also match with their features and gameplay. This means that Cratos of God of War can not be wearing a pair of pink boots to battle!
Creating a sequel to an already famous game is a great challenge as well. The team must be keeping in mind all the original characteristics of the main character so that when an old loyal player gets their hands on their favourite game, their aesthetics and behavior of their hero would not make them feel alienated. There have been countless examples in which the team has failed to, or has decided not to, keep a key feature of their already established character and has led their game into a downfall just because the main player did not feel the same as they used to!
On the other hand, while keeping the good old stuff in place, the team must be persuading the task of adding more creative and exciting features to their main character in order to inject the thrill of playing a brand new game into their targeted players. I mean who would really like to play the same thing again right?
So finding the edge of this sweet optimum spot where things are not foreign to the player but feel new and exciting at the same time, is another one of the challenges system designers face.
Level design is designing and executing the surrounding environment of the game. Basically all the areas and places where the player can explore within the game is a part of this. The missions, levels and quests are also designed and placed by the level designers.
Their job is initially more or less like playing with legos. They have to piece together all these different blocks of things that are designed by other designers together in order to create the surrounding environment of the level. This includes the possible enemy attack or the NPCs that may be roaming around.
They are also the ones who design stories and puzzles throughout the game and determine the incidents that will have to occur according to each of the individual choices of the player against a specific encounter.
The User Interface and User Experience (AKA UI and UX) are also designed by the level designers. They even shoulder the writing of the soundtrack for the game.
Who Is The Right Candidate For Entering Game Design?
Well the answer to this question is pretty simple: anybody! There is no no single characteristic or ability that a person must possess in order to start pursuing game design. Whether you are a newbie or know your basics and want to step towards becoming an expert, there opportunities are endless for you.
Going back a couple of decades a person was bound to have some extreme levels of genius with at least 2 degrees and countless hours of experience in so many different areas with a topping of extra creativity in order to step into the field of game design and video game development in general.
They had to have a very good knowledge in literature, storytelling, graphics, drawing, computer sciences, you name it! But today this has changed course towards the direction where any individual at any age can begin to learn how games are designed and get their hands dirty with the work. While game design is being offered as a college and university degree, the number of free resources that are available has increased over the years and with the help of the internet there is literally nothing a person cannot learn by themselves.
It is literally possible for anybody to start game design. Are you a housewife? There’s no problem; you can enter game design. Are you an employee having to sit behind your desk from 9 to 5 every day? Well, you can also start taking up game design but just spending a very little time every day after work studying and reading about the field and then starting to experiment with the knowledge you have gained.
Game design is also a great area for young children to enter. This is because their minds are more fresh than the adults and are ready for receiving and implementing the new knowledge that is being thrown at them. It enables them to enter a world that is purely created and controlled through their own hands.
What Is An Indie Game?
Not all games are COD or GTA. These more commercial games are often designed and created by a large number of people who work in numerous teams, put in countless hours and take advantage of the massive budgets that are allocated for their games and projects by their companies.
Such games are often very complex with a huge number of missions, tasks, bounties, achievements and side quests which take so many hours to complete. They are most likely very nicely laid out in terms of VFX and the graphics of the game, everything is crystal clear and smooth.
As opposed to these, Indie Games are games which do not require a large team or a crazy budget to produce. These are often designed and executed either by a very small team or a single person instead of a multinational company. What is worth mentioning is that a lack of team work or financial resources is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact the popularity of Indie games has been riding a firm uptrend in the past few years and this is across multiple platforms including PC and Sony’s PlayStation.
Game Designers Career Outlook
As discussed earlier in this article the number of job opportunities for this field of working is rising. They are earning anything between $40,000 to $150,000 depending on their responsibilities, years of experience, area of expertise and the company they are working at.
Their spectrum of responsibilities is quite wide but in general the following are some of the main duties of a game designer:
- Producing prototype gameplay for testing and presentation;
- Taking the design sketches of the system and level designers to the next phase according to the instructions of their managers;
- Fine tuning the User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) to match their audience research;
- Writing the story line of the game;
- Collaborating with engineers and various artists for materializing the game.
Game design is evolving at an incomprehensible pace! That’s all you need to know. This is just one of the many reasons why you should be directing your child towards trying it out in a safe and fun environment. In our article “7 Benefits of Game Design for Kids” we have further discussed how your child will benefit on multiple fronts by learning how to design and create a game!
Click in here to learn more about our Game Design courses for kids, our offers and more and make the right decision before availability runs short!