What is Gameplay? Week Twelve Introduction to Game Design What is Gameplay? In general, it mostly boils down to hunting and gathering. Most games are about shooting and killing people and monsters and picking up objects to be used later in the game. Simulations and “Serious games a two exceptions. Gameplay includes all player experiences during the interaction with game systems, especially formal games. Gameplay is "what the player does". What is Gameplay? Generally, the term "gameplay" in video game terminology is used to describe the overall experience of playing the game excluding the factors of graphics, sound, and the storyline. The term "game mechanics" refers to subelements of the gameplay, but particularly the primary control and movement features of the game (thus excluding things like level design or AI). Types of Gameplay (Genres) Arcade-style Gameplay The basic simplicity of arcade-style games is still very popular. It’s also fairly easy to create in Flash with 2D animation and side-scrolling action Shooter-style Gameplay One of the most popular forms of gameplay is the “First-Person Shooter.” This throwback to the early days of hunting appeals to one of our most basic instincts – “The Hunter.” RPG/Action/Adventure-style Story-based role playing games allow the player to immerse themselves in other fantasy worlds and universes. The gameplay however is still mostly about gathering weapons, loot, tools and some fighting. Fighting One-on-One Hand-to-hand combat is one of the most engaging styles of gameplay, as well as one of the most difficult to create. The animation of the opponents and their interaction must be programmed as “artificial intelligence” Sports Gameplay Real-time action and photorealistic characters have made sports titles among the most popular styles of gameplay. Driving Gameplay This extremely violent and controversial title combines driving gameplay with some rather dubious interaction with police and prostitutes. Simulation-style Gameplay Will Wright, the now famous creator of these SIMS-series of software claims that they are not really game but “Software Toys.” The “gameplay however seems to be appreciated by both men and women equally. “Serious” Gameplay Games can even be created with a more serious agenda and gameplay. These serious games, like Darfur is Dying” can focus attention on major geo-political issues as well as create engaging gameplay. Components of Gameplay Structure Flow Playing most good games is definitely a “Flow” experience. If the gameplay is well balanced with the users skills, a merging of actions and awareness occurs, with concentration so intense there is little attention left over to consider anything else. It’s called “being in “the flow.” This is “achieved when a sufficiently motivated user perceives a balance between his or her skills and the challenges of the interaction, together with focused attention.” How does it feel to “be in the flow”? Completely involved, focused, concentrating - due to innate curiosity or as the result of training. Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality. Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going. Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored. Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible. Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward Puzzles A good puzzle fits into its setting and presents an obstacle that makes sense. When the player solves it he knows why what he did worked. A puzzle is a problem that is fun to solve and actually has a right answer Difficulty Balance Game balance is a concept in game design describing fairness or balance of power in a game between multiple players or strategic options. A game would be called unbalanced if one or more players have an unfair advantage over the others. Gameplay and Character Design Since gameplay is what characters do, gameplay is really a function of the player’s role in the game. Several limitations on gameplay are based on the design of characters. One example is that animation sequences (i.e., run, kick die etc) can not be too long or they will be slow-loading and slow down the gameplay. Given a choice between longer animation and fast action, gameplay always trumps animation length Constructing Gameplay Action Inventories Before any gameplay can be created the developer must determine what actions and animations each character will have. This “action inventory” helps to structure the gameplay and breaks down each characters role into smaller chunks that can be created in a 3D animation program like 3D Studio Max. Artificial Intelligence The role of NPCs (non-player characters,) can be programmed using AI algorithms. These snippets of code can really add a lot of realism to the gameplay. But the developer must thoroughly test each in the context of the game. Gameplay Mode The conjunction of these three elements -perspective, interaction model, and gameplay -- constitutes a gameplay mode, a particular way of playing the game. If any one of the elements changes significantly in the course of playing the game, then the player has moved into a new gameplay mode. Game Engines At the heart of all great games is their game engine. This middleware determines what can be put on the screen and how it will be displayed. From the Wikipedia: A game engine is the core software component of a computer or video game or other interactive application with real-time graphics. It provides the underlying technologies, simplifies development, and often enables the game to run on multiple platforms such as game consoles and desktop operating systems such as Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows The Torque Game Engine I chose the Torque Game engine for this class because it is by far the best “bang for the bucks.” Currently $150. or $250 for the advanced version, Torque offers a true AAArated engine with most of the features of engines costing 10 times as much. Another major consideration was that the folks at Garage Games were incredibly helpful as I was learning and using their products.