Regardless of whether you’re creating a simple platform game, a game for an online casino or a complex massively multiplayer online role-player, you need to have a strong background in game design. From the idea stage through character development and the intricacies of technological development, game designers need to be familiar with the entire process of designing games from A-Z. Right down to the nitty-gritty of how the player can buy bitcoin additions to the game.
How do game designers create new games?
What is Game Design?
Game design starts off with the planning arm of video game development process. The planning process is the most important aspect of the creation of a new video game. If the game developers don’t pay proper attention to the game’s basic plan, the rest of the process is certain to fail. Planning the video game involves figuring out how to combine the creativity and technical skills needed to turn a game idea into a reality.
Once the basic game design idea is laid out, the next step involves the developing the design. If, for instance, you want to make a choice-based role-playing game that’s set in the future, you have to start considering how you’re going to proceed.
Does the game have a storyline that goes deeper than what is seen on the surface? What do your characters look like? Is this going to be a single-player or a multi-player game?
How are you going to present choices -- dialogue or implemented within the gameplay itself? What kinds of items (weapons, etc) will be available in the game and how will players be able to access those items? How to you balance tasks and fun?
Answering these questions is a large part of game design. From plot to characters, these elements guide the game design including the mechanics of how the game is played, the levels of the game and even the aesthetics. Putting all of these elements together is like a puzzle which is, in essence, game design.
Beyond creativity, game design is a technical field. To design the mechanics of the game you need to be familiar with math, programming and computer science. If you’re working for a large company where there are team members who take care of the coding and programing you might not be responsible for programming at all, but as the designer you will be overseeing the game’s production and you need to have the background knowledge to do so effectively. You will need to be familiar with a game’s construction in order to fine tune and polish the game design.
In addition, depending on the game genre, knowledge of subjects like math and balancing may be very important in designing the game itself. For instance, if you’re building a city-building strategy game, you need to plan resources, costs, resource gains, timetables and other math-related subjects. And a bit of psychology and sociology is useful as you prepare to plan the game around the target audience.
In short, designing games involves planning the game, knowing the techniques and tools needed to create that plan and being able to put the various elements together so that the gameplay will involve one cohesive experience.
How Does Game Design Differ From Game Development?
The phrases “game design” and “game development” are often used interchangeably but there are differences. Those differences are not always clear but in essence, game design is a subfield of the process of game development. A game designer is considered to be a game developer but a game developer isn’t necessarily a game designer. A game designer is part of the game development team.
Most people refer to the “game developer” as a general programmer who works with the designer. Together, the designer and the developer plan out the technical aspects like objects, data structures, etc. Developers are generally more familiar with computer science than are designers.
Tasks that a game designer may be tasked with include:
- Script-writing – if there’s a story involved, the game designer will be involved. Script-writing involves establishing characters’ backstories, establishing the history and setting of the game and planning out the narrative plot. The game designer will write out the dialogue to be used throughout the game (or, if it’s a big game, will coordinate the writers’ scripts into one cohesive script.
- Art – the game designer creates the game’s aesthetic elements including the visual and environmental designs, the basic character designs, etc. The game designer – sometimes in coordination with the rest of the team – needs to decide whether to use 3D graphics or pixel art Again, if the game is a large project, a professional game artist or multiple game artists may be charged with creating the art but the game designer has the final say and may make any needed changes or alterations to ensure that the art meets the designer’s intent.
- Puzzles/Levels/Challenges – today’s games almost always include multiple levels that allow the player to move upward from one level to the next. Moving through the levels is accomplished by solving puzzles, succeeding in battles and completing challenges. The game designer implements the levels into the game by deciding how the player will achieve movement from one level to the next and keeps all gameplay mechanics consistent with the game storyline.
- Programming – as mentioned, the level of the game designer’s interface with the game design is dependent on the size of the project but many game designers do participate in the programming process at least on some level. Some do the programming themselves while others oversee some of the technical aspects. In all instances however, the game designer must review what the programmer is doing regularly to make sure that it fits with the overall game design concept.
- Testing – throughout the process of developing the game the game will be constantly tested and changed. The game designer is responsible for testing the game and making changes as needed to ensure that the game has a consistent quality experience. Every aspect of the game is tested many times to determine whether any of the mechanics are broken or whether the overall gameplay is smooth and competitive.
- Planning Interfaces – the game designer often acts as the UI/UX designer to check the game interfaces – health and hunger bars, text score, video game encyclopedia, etc – to make sure that it’s ready for players to use as they interact and receive information with and about the game.
- Communication and collaboration – regardless of the size of the game that’s being developed, someone has to make sure that the lines of communication are open between the various people involved in creating the game and that everyone is on the same page regarding game collaboration. Everything must be coordinated, from the art to the programming to the gameplay and that’s the job of the game designer.