Video Game Design - Baby steps out the door

What is the goal of the video game?
What is the look and feel of the game?

Why would someone play the game?

What can the game do better than if someone experiences it physically?

These are all key questions (and baby steps in the game design process) I was asked yesterday about the creation of an information literacy video game. As I’m starting to explore my options for creating a game, I had a conversation with a graduating computer graphics student who is entering the game industry. I’m not really sure I have answers to all of these questions, but his questions have me thinking.

My broad goal is that students would find, evaluate and apply information to be successful in the game (pretty much the basics in information literacy). Looking through the ACRL Info Lit Competency Standards there are a variety of standards and outcomes that fit… but that’s for a future post.

I’ve thought only briefly on the look and feel of the game, because I’ve been operating on the assumption that modding a game for my educational use would be the most efficient. But after my discussion, any look and feel can work for most engines - it is just a matter of how long the design process takes. When I think about the look of a game, I think in a 3rd person perspective. A 3rd person perspective lends itself to more interaction and communication – which would be vital to a game about information.

While the perspective and setting “feel” of the game is important, I’m more concerned with the learning curve. I think that a 3rd person view lends itself to a smaller learning curve compared to a 1st person perspective. The important “feel” of the video game is that any student, regardless of experience, should be able to jump in and play quickly and easily.

The “why” someone would play is straightforward: 1) because the game is interesting and engaging, or 2) because they are forced to play for class. Obliviously, I prefer the first of the two choices.

What makes the game better than doing it physically? I hope that a game would be more interesting, engaging and provide a different application for the learned skills that could not efficiently be used outside.

In addition to these 4 questions, we talked at length about the following issues:

  • Point of view for the player
  • The genre setting
  • Importing images into existing game engines
  • Creating dynamic dialog
  • Dialog that branches and is dependent on previous actions
  • Role of NPCs in the game
  • Mapping controls and actions

The computer graphics student also suggested a good way to start looking at the layout…

First – Overall goals, what is it I want to teach
Second – Based on these goals, what missions could accomplish them
Third – Within each mission there are one or more areas for the player to operate within
Fourth – The areas need to be populated with characters, items, and materials to interact with

I’m thankful for the engaging and challenging discussion with the graduating computer graphics student I had yesterday. I respect the student’s experience and knowledge in 3D graphic design and specifically game design. He’s given me more to think about. He’s actually in the process of trying to get an internship with Raven Software after graduating this spring. I’m thankful for his input and wish him luck in his job search.

Image via IMDB.com

1 comments:

Kiara said...

Your blog is truly informative. Thanks for sharing this one to us. I often find Download Games of my interest and the game that I know will make me come back for more. An addictive game, that is. And I find them often in hidden-object games.