Note: This is the June 17, 2006 capture of from the Wayback Machine. This was uploaded to the reloaded ISLESV.NET on June 22, 2023.

GAME — a closed, formal system that subjectively represents a subset of reality.

  1. a game has explicit rules

  2. a game is a collection of parts that interact with each other, often in complex ways

  3. a game represents something from subjective reality, not objective reality

Categories of Games

  1. Board Games

  2. Card Games

  3. Athletic Games

  4. Computer Games

Fundamental Elements Common to Games (RICS)

  1. Representation

  2. Interaction

  3. Conflict

  4. Safety

Motivation for Playing a Game

  1. Fantasy

  2. Nose-thumbing (anti-social behavior — no one punishes you from killing somebody in a game world)

  3. Proving oneself — self-esteem

  4. Social lubrication

  5. Exercise (mental/physical)

  6. Need for acknowledgement — related to ( 3 ), but here the acknowledgement is external, i.e., coming from an outside source.

Q: What is the fundamental motivation for game playing?

A: Learning.

A Taxonomy of Computer Games

I. Skill-and-action (S&A)

  • emphasizes perceptual and motor skills

  • real-time play

  • heavy emphasis on graphics and sound

  • hand-eye coordination and fast reaction time needed

  1. Combat Game

    • direct, violent confrontation

    • first-person vs. third-person geometry: first-person is more exciting but more technically challenging

    • Example: Counter Strike

  2. Maze Game

  3. Sports Game

  4. Paddle Game

  5. Race Game

  6. Miscellaneous

II. Strategy Games

  1. Adventures

  2. D&D (Dungeons and Dragons)

  3. War Games

  4. Games of Chance

  5. Educational and Children’s Games

  6. Interpersonal Games

Strengths of Computers as Game Machines

  1. Responsiveness and Dynamism

  2. Ability to act as referee

  3. Real-time play

  4. Ability to provide an intelligent opponent

  5. Ability to limit information given to players

  6. Telecommunications — freedom from space and location constraints

Weaknesses of Computers as Game Machines

  1. Limited I/O capability

  2. Single-user orientation (one machine/one person)

  3. Programming

Design Precepts for Computer Games

  1. Go with the grain.

  2. Don’t transplant — if a game is very successful in one media, it has its own reasons; this does not necessarily mean that it will also be successful if transplanted to computers. Emphasize new ideas instead of tried-and-true-but-another-media ideas.

  3. Design around I/O — your first consideration in coming up with a game is the capability and limitations of the input/output of computers. Obviously, you can’t design a game which involves diving and swimming and going underwater if you are going to use computer technology. Use less and less of the keyboard as possible; the mouse is the best thing to work with, although it is harder to program.

  4. Keep it clean — avoid details that are useless and just clutter your game.

  5. Store less and process more — utilize the computers speed to process information. If you have to select between storing information statically or creating the same dynamically on loading your program, select the latter. You are doing service to your clients that way.

  6. Branch softly — avoid hard branches, i.e., where the user has no choice but what you have allowed him (for example, going into somewhere where the only exit is the same door the player enters). StarCraft has this weakness in its maps that sometimes you go to a corner with no way out except your way in.

  7. Maintain unity of the design effort — if you’re working with a team, don’t show off and make everyone realize that you are talented — they will just hate you for it. Instead go with the team.

The Game Design Sequence

  1. Choose a goal and a topic

    • What effects on the player do you want to achieve?

    • What fantasies will the game create?

  2. Research and preparation

  3. Design phase

    • create the outline of three interdependent structures (I/O, game, program)

    • avoid the use of the keyboard as much as possible

  4. Preprogramming phase

  5. Programming phase — the easiest

  6. Playtesting phase — includes beta

  7. Post-mortem — evaluate your games and analyze why they fail/succeed, for future use.