Game Design

Bungie plans to launch more franchises, build up publishing group by 2025

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 30 September 2019 - 2:41pm

Destiny developer Bungie†™s five-year plan includes some lofty goals. Speaking to IGN, Bungie's CEO shared that he sees the Bungie of the future as "one of the world†™s best entertainment companies." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Deep Dive Into XCOM and XCOM 2 - by Josh Bycer

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:37am
While late to the party, I finally had the time to take a hard look at XCOM 2 and I wanted to share my thoughts on the design and issues I had with this close to perfection take on the genre.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

3 Ways Unity Addressables Will Save Your Game - by Ruben Torres Bonet

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:35am
Let's find out 3 ways Unity Addressables will help your game with efficient, pain-free content management.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Which are the most commonly used Game Engines? - by Marcus Toftedahl

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:33am
Is it possible to get an overview of which game engines are the most popular? We have made an attempt to understand the current state of the game engine market.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Steam has a lack of data scientists - by Burak Tezateser

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:29am
This post is about some obvious and some hidden long term mistakes Steam is making. As a commercial product, Steam has two goals: making profits and preserving its ecosystem (aka. securing long term profits). It's failing on both.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Balancing: The Science Behind a Fun and Successful Casual Game - by Sven Lubek

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:24am
Are you building a mobile game? You’ll be looking at ways of improving and developing your game further before it hits the app stores. This is where game balancing comes in. To create a well-balanced game, here are some of the key steps you can take.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

SPLATTERTILES: How to tile your game without all that FUSS! - by Samuel Coster

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:23am
This is an art deep dive about the methods Butterscotch uses to create environments.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Towards a Language of Video Games, Part I: Creating Meaning with Game Mechanics - by Elizabeth Goins

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 7:23am
Part 1 of a practical application of spatial theory to game design by examining game mechanics in relation to to LeFebvre's triad.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PixelCast 4, Link's Awakening, NEWS, and the Frame Debugger! - by Jeremy Alessi

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 6:05am
In PixelCast 4, Jeremy covers The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and dives into one possibility as to why it experiences frequent drops in framerate. Jeremy also reflects on the latest PixelFest developments, covers LOTS'O NEWS, and gets techy with it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How to Get the Most Out of Playtesting

Gnome Stew - 30 September 2019 - 6:00am

Playtesting can be a fraught experience, even in the best of circumstances. This goes double if the designer of the game is involved in the playtest, or if you’re friends of the designer (which is pretty likely in the early stages). I’ve found over the past year that I actually really enjoy playtesting, so I wanted to share my top tips on how to run a really helpful playtest and how to be a great playtester.

15 minutes before every playtest

Let’s start at the start: what is the goal of a playtest? What are we trying to accomplish when we do this? As a designer, I’m looking for three main categories of information:

  1. What did people enjoy vs not enjoy?
  2. What did people find confusing?
  3. What did or did not support the intent of the game? Or, shortly, what worked and what didn’t work?

The whole goal of a playtest is to refine the game, to help make it the best game it can be. The above questions are how I do that. The first two are pretty self-explanatory. If people are obviously not having fun or are just constantly looking at me in bewilderment, something isn’t working. The last one is the main point I want to expand on, and how it differs from the others.

One of the key things to understand when you’re coordinating a playtest – whether you’re the designer of the game or not – is the intent of the game. What is the designer (yes, you too!) trying to accomplish? What type of game are they trying to make? What are they trying to say? And yes, I have gone into playtests where the designer (me!) didn’t have answers to those questions, and as a result, the whole thing pretty much ended up being useless.

What I think a lot of people struggle with is finding where the game’s intent and their own expectations don’t match, and providing feedback accordingly. If the designer’s intent is to make a suspenseful horror game and you think it’s going to be a zany beat-em-up, giving the feedback “well, I thought all those suspense rules really got in the way of me kicking this monster’s ass” isn’t helpful. There’s a mismatch somewhere in that situation, and it’s always worth explaining the intent of the game before you start.

In the first playtest of a game, you might just be trying to figure out “does this work as a game at all?” Share1Tweet1Reddit1EmailIt also helps to have a clear idea of what areas to focus on and what questions you want to ask at the end. In the first playtest of a game, you might just be trying to figure out “does this work as a game at all?” but in the later stages, you’re more likely to be refining specific mechanics. You can ask your players to pay special attention to those at the start of the game, you can let them know ahead of time what type of questions you’ll be asking. Saying before you begin “hey pals, I’d really like to focus on the dice pool system” can prevent a situation where you ask about the dice pool at the end of the game and everyone says “oh I don’t know, I wasn’t really focusing on it, but it seemed fine.”

As the playtest coordinator, I find it helpful to watch what your players do and not just what they say. It’s not that they’ll be intentionally misleading you or anything sinister! It’s because sometimes they might not think to mention something or that you want to remember for later. To give an example, I have a game in playtesting where the character playbooks were two-sided and in the initial playtests people had to keep flipping back and forth between the two sides. Mechanically, there wasn’t anything wrong with the information on the sheets, but where it was placed made a big difference in terms of players interrupting themselves to check their character sheets.

To that end, my biggest piece of feedback for a playtest coordinator is to take copious notes during the game. So many notes. Take notes on everything, even if you never end up using all of them. It can be hard to take a lot of notes while staying engaged in what’s happening in the session, but everyone else should be understanding about the fact that this is the whole point of a playtest. I know some designers actually like to use audio recording during their playtest sessions and then go back and listen later (I personally don’t do this, but I definitely see the value in it!).

When it comes time to provide feedback, there’s a tried and true critique method called the compliment sandwich – say something you liked, something you didn’t like, and then another thing you liked. It goes a long way towards sparing feelings, but this should go without saying: you can tell someone what you didn’t like about their game without being a jerk. For myself, I tend to structure the feedback phase in three parts, in this order specifically:

  1. I ask them what (if anything) they liked
  2. I ask them what (if anything) they disliked
  3. I ask them what (if anything) confused them or they didn’t understand

A lot of designers ask their testers to point out problems but NOT to offer solutions, and I personally tend to agree with that methodology. I don’t mind one or two small points, but mostly – let me solve the problems. I’m the designer, that’s what I do, and you can trust me to find the right solution for what I’m going for. It’s absolutely not intended as a slight against the playtesters, but in my experience, it’s needed to keep things moving. Brainstorming solutions to problems takes time away from finding the problems. Everything in its time, you know?

As a sidenote, if you’re a fellow game designer testing someone else’s game, it can come across as terribly condescending and rude to say “well if this was MY game, this is what I would do.” It’s usually well-meant, but rarely well-received.

I do like to emphasize this to my playtesters: you can ask questions too. You SHOULD ask questions! A majority of the time, the coordinator/designer is going to be asking you questions, but don’t let that stop you. If something isn’t clear in the game, if something needs to be spelled out, if something is an assumption that never made it into the game text – they need to know that.

Telling them what worked … really is just as important as what didn’t work. Share1Tweet1Reddit1EmailAs a final thing to remember for playtesters: not all the feedback you give is likely to be incorporated into the final game. Don’t take it personally! Sometimes there was conflicting feedback – if one playtester tells me something is too complex and another tells me it’s too simple, I have to weigh both of those. Sometimes the game changed drastically enough over time that the feedback ended up not being relevant, or it was incorporated elsewhere. And always keep in mind – telling them what worked and what you liked really is just as important as what didn’t work.

 

 

What do you think? Have you had particularly good or bad playtest experiences? What are your top tips for getting the most out of the playtest process?

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Nintendo Switch: A Discoverability Followup - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 September 2019 - 2:18am
My recent piece on discoverability for Nintendo Switch got some decent feedback from a few active Switch developers - here's an update with some new data points and info.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Top Ten Perks to Being a Mage

RPGNet - 30 September 2019 - 12:00am
Fuzzy magic!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Untitled Goose Newsletter

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 29 September 2019 - 8:09am

This week's highlights include Untitled Goose Game, of course, but also pieces on Noita, Later Alligator, What The Golf, The Last Of Us 2, an unreleased MC Hammer game (!), & more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Untitled Goose Newsletter - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 29 September 2019 - 8:05am
This week's highlights include several pieces about Untitled Goose Game, of course, but also articles or videos on Noita, Later Alligator, What The Golf, The Last Of Us 2, an unreleased MC Hammer game (!), & a plethora of others.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rockstar wants to capture the appeal of RDR 2's single player in Online

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 27 September 2019 - 1:07pm

Open-world online modes have become the lifeblood of Rockstar†™s flagship titles, so much so that the studio is †œ100% focused† on fleshing out the mode in a way that captures the appeal of its single player campaign ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video: How vehicles replicate and collide in Watch Dogs 2 multiplayer

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 27 September 2019 - 11:43am

In this 2017 GDC talk Ubisoft's Matt Delbosc reveals how Watch Dogs 2 replicates vehicle trajectories, compensates for network lag, and realistically represents player-on-player crashes.  ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Don't delay: Monday is your last day to pitch a GDC 2020 Summit talk!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 27 September 2019 - 10:22am

Just a quick reminder today that all submissions for GDC 2020's Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC), GDC Summits, and Game Career Seminar are due this Monday, September 30th at 11:59 PM PT! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Handsome Meat: Creating an Attract Mode for NES Games - by James Deighan

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 27 September 2019 - 8:21am
An attract mode is perhaps one of the most familiar gaming features for any retro player. I believe this mode was invented in the era of arcade machines, so that a potential player could assess the gameplay without spending a precious coin on the machine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Playbook: How to Improve Squad Commands in Halo 5 and other shooters. - by Adam Cohen

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 27 September 2019 - 7:53am
A solution to issues in squad-based combat in Halo 5 using Quarterback playbook-inspired team and tactics forming.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Bad People are Trying to Be Good - by Elliot Callighan

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 27 September 2019 - 7:45am
Sometimes in the games industry, we're confronted with people and situations that make us immediately fume. We can't possibly imagine how someone could think in a certain way. Don't they have common sense? Are they that unaware? That selfish?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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