Game Design is the creation and balancing of game systems and mechanics. Not for programming questions about "design" of features, engines, etc. Not for visual design questions about the looks of assets.

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6answers
739 views

What is the difference between a bonus and a power-up?

What is the difference between the notions of "bonus" and "power-up?" I have in-game some objects and the player has the ability to pick up some bonuses/power-ups that allow the player to create an ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Attack vs Defence and who is the winner? [closed]

I am in the process of creating a new simple game in mobile and I've spent several days on the following part. For simplicity, let's say that I have two fighters. The only attribute of them is ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I find the valid words in a grid of characters?

I am creating a game similar to Tetris, with two main differences: the screen already begins filled with tiles (like in Puzzle Quest for Nintendo DS and PC) and each individual tile has a letter in it....
11
votes
6answers
2k views

What makes a game a game vs something else like a puzzle or a toy?

Famously the Sims and similar games have been described by some designers as Toys and not "really" games. I'm curious if there is a good answer to what makes something a game. For example many ...
11
votes
3answers
933 views

Can Achievement systems be implemented later in development?

I'm undecided if I want to implement this feature in my game at the time or not. I don't want the project to get to far out of control so I'm focusing on core mechanics first. Is this a feature that ...
11
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7answers
2k views

How do I design very difficult games? [closed]

I would like to design games with very high difficulty levels. I have read these questions: How is game difficulty tested/balanced? What is an optimum failure rate that will keep people coming ...
11
votes
1answer
450 views

Why has it become commonplace for NPCs to have one weapon per class instead of variants?

For instance, in Half-Life 2 you have Civil Protection, Combine Soldier and Combine Elite. Each class has a weapon. Is there a shift away from this at all, where the NPCs are matched with the player ...
11
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2answers
2k views

When should I use skill trees versus skill lists in an RPG? [closed]

What are the pros and cons of skill trees versus flat skill lists in role playing games? In what situations is one more appropriate than the other? Here is an example of a skill list, taken from ...
11
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3answers
526 views

How can I implement a command system for a point-and-click style adventure game?

I'm making a point and click adventure game, and I'm currently trying to figure out the best way to implement a command system. Assume a Monkey Island or Maniac Mansion style interface, with a ...
11
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3answers
695 views

As an indie game dev, what processes are the best for soliciting feedback on my design/spec/idea? [closed]

Background I have worked in a professional environment where the process usually goes like the following: Brain storm idea Solidify the game mechanics / design Iterate on design/idea to create a ...
11
votes
1answer
297 views

How can you meaningfully market test microtransactions?

For a number of reasons I have chosen to use Microtransactions to monetize my current project. However, like all make or break features I am concerned about how they are received in-game. ...
11
votes
1answer
497 views

Is there a gold standard for touch controls in scrolling shoot-em-ups?

Is there currently a "standard" for touch controls in shooters on platforms such as iPhone or Android? I've noticed that many of them enable auto-fire by default, or control the character via direct ...
10
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2answers
2k views

I have to make a game in 9 days. AHHH! [closed]

If you just want to get to the question and skip the background, go to the next paragraph if not, keep reading. O.k., so, I'm 13 and I make games in my spare time. They've never really been shared ...
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12answers
12k views

How can I make video games if I don't like programming? [closed]

I am studying C++ code in my school (my major is computer programming). Honestly, my grades are not so good, and assignments are really hard. Sometimes I feel sad that I will spend 8-10 hours per day ...
10
votes
8answers
733 views

How do you decide when your feature list is long enough?

I know a bit about this question but I find that there are quite a lot of diverse opinions on the subject? I know from a players perspective that more options is almost always good. But on the other ...
10
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5answers
3k views

Why do modern games not feature extra lives? [closed]

In the late 80s and early 90s, most games had an extra life mechanic. The player started with limited lives (often three) and dying depleted one of them. If they still had some remaining, they would ...
10
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8answers
2k views

What should a game have in order to keep humans playing it?

In many entertainment professions there suggestions, loose rules, or general frameworks one follows that appeal to humans in one way or another. For instance, many movies and books follow the ...
10
votes
6answers
761 views

What's a good alternative to colored tiles to account for color blindness?

I have a game with tiles. Each tile is a number, and each number is one of six colors. The color is important to the game play, and I want to make the game available to those who are color blind. ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Algorithm for determining random events

I'm struggling with coming up with an elegant solution to generating random events in the game that I'm working on. Say there are 4 classes of events that can happen, with varying events in those ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Simplest most effective way to rank and measure player skill in a multi-player environment?

I know of the Truskill algorithm, it's quite complex but effective. My question is there other algorithms/methods to determine a players skill for accurate measuring for multi-player competitive ...
10
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4answers
742 views

How detailed and/or complete is/are your game design documents before starting a project?

What I'm wondering is how complete your design documents typically are before beginning the implementation of a project? I'm talking about medium to very small projects with a very small team here ...
10
votes
4answers
427 views

What are the downsides of only explicitly informing the player of *success*?

I'm working on educational software and trying to increase Engagement ("fun"). Clear Progress toward a Goal (one of the tenets of Engagement) would suggest we need to let the player know how they are ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Dual Currency vs. One Currency in social games economics and monetization

Not a programming question but game development related. I am creating an iPhone online game which I wish to be free-to-play where in-app purchase is used for monetization. The important point is to ...
10
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7answers
2k views

Seperation of drawing and logic in games

I'm a developer that's just now starting to mess around with game development. I'm a .Net guy, so I've messed with XNA and am now playing around with Cocos2d for the iPhone. My question really is more ...
10
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3answers
768 views

Prototyping a puzzle game for solvability of levels

I am in the prototyping phase of making a puzzle game for iOS. The basic premise of what the player has to do is get from point A to point B by navigating through a maze like setup, while moving ...
10
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2answers
350 views

Which approach is better: Frequent small updates, or occasional large ones? [closed]

I recently released the first publicly available free Alpha for my top-down shooter: Dread I'm trying to decide whether a weekly / bi-weekly small update release schedule is better than the more ...
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5answers
2k views

Balancing game difficulty against player progression

It seems that the current climate of games seems to cater to an obvious progression of player power, whether that means getting a bigger, more explosive gun in Halo, leveling up in an RPG, or ...
10
votes
3answers
916 views

Where to find designers for independent projects? [closed]

Let's say I'm a programmer, I know some artists, we've got a game engine and fun prototype done, and we're ready to enter the indie equivalent of "production". But the game is full of "programmer ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Time reverse mechanism in games

I am wondering about how time manipulation mechanisms in games are typically designed. I am particularly interested in time reversing (sort of like in the latest SSX or Prince of Persia). The game ...
10
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2answers
4k views

Making a character move along a curved slope in a World with gravity

I have seen this game Fancy Pants 2 . And the thing I noticed apart from the physics and beautiful animations is that the character is moving along slopes , even curved slopes. I have little ...
10
votes
1answer
220 views

how can i make my game more intuitive without a tutorial?

i am currntly working on a mobile game app. the game details a tree with several branches on which diffrent types of birds fly and land on. every bird has a diffrent weight and the purpose of the user ...
10
votes
3answers
632 views

Power, achievement and affiliation games for psychology research project [closed]

For a psychology research project we're looking for short (ca. 5 minute) single-player games to observe people's basic motivation. We would like to ask people to list games that provide the closest ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the economical design difference for a global auction house or seperate auction traders?

I'm playing The Elder Scrolls: Tamriel Unlimited and there we have local auction houses. (Thy don't have auctions, but I keep the term to not get confused in the following text.) I can see the ...
9
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7answers
3k views

Other games that employ mechanics like the game “Diplomacy”

I'm doing a little bit of research and I'm hoping you can help me track down any games, other than Diplomacy (online version here), that employ all or some of the mechanics in Diplomacy (rules, short ...
9
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6answers
1k views

Design Document Contents [closed]

What is the minimum content that a game design document should have?
9
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5answers
589 views

The need your game fills. Establishing your “hook.”

I am a programmer and have worked on games although never attempted design myself. I am now attempting to design a game myself, working with a modest team of programmers and artists. Game designers ...
9
votes
6answers
560 views

Agency versus story

What are good ways to reconcile a desire to allow the user to have freedom of choice and have their choices affect the world, with the desire to be able to have a story without the player 'ruining' it?...
9
votes
1answer
351 views

What to focus on in developing a game demo for an interview?

In other threads on this very website, it has been repeatedly stressed that having a game demo to showcase at a job interview is of paramount importance, so I decided to have a go and write my own ...
9
votes
2answers
643 views

Articles about a plot in an open world [closed]

There are plenty of articles about open world game design and writing plots. But have you guys come across articles or blog entries about designing an engaging plot in an open world game? What i mean ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Turning a board game idea into a browser based, slow paced gameplay

Suppose I want to create a strategy game with global mutable state shared between all players (think game board). But unlike a board game, I don't want it to be real time action and/or turn-based. ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Realtime multi-player game design principles for Node.js

I've been reading the Valve article on multi-player networking which has been adapted from Yahn Bernier's 2001 paper called Latency Compensating Methods in Client/Server In-game Protocol Design and ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

2D pathfinding - finding smooth paths

I was trying to implement a simple pathfinding, but the outcome is less satisfactory than what I intended to achieve. The thing is units in games like Starcraft 2 move in all directions whereas units ...
9
votes
1answer
262 views

How long to display each sentence?

When creating a sequence where text advances automatically, is there a metric which will allow me to calculate a reasonable duration to display each "sentence"? My intuition tells me that because of ...
9
votes
3answers
750 views

Bejewelled Next Best jewel selection

Is there a game design technique I can use so that I completely remove 'No more moves left' situations. ie. the game should contain no impossible scenarios. As far as I've guess It all depends on ...
9
votes
3answers
760 views

Where to hire a scenario writer for a small interactive story game?

I need a scenario for a small dialog-based game / interactive story. The game would be used as an example to be shipped with a middleware tool we're developing. I would like to buy an existing story (...
9
votes
2answers
184 views

How do I make voting to kick a “leader” player fair?

My game has many rooms of around 10 people where they compete. It's basically one big guy against the other small 9 people. However, sometimes the one guy will intentionally 'troll' and make for an ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What are the common character animation techniques used in tile based hack&slash games?

I wonder what kind of animation techniques are used for creature and character animation in modern hack&slash type tile based games? Keyframing for different actions may be one option. Skeletal ...
9
votes
2answers
417 views

Calculating the “power” of a player in a “Defend Your Castle” type game

I'm a making a "Defend Your Castle" type game, where each player has a castle and must send units to destroy the opponent's castle. It looks like this (and yeah, this is the actual game, not a quick ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Game Design Lexicon: terminology for gems etc [closed]

When a Hero picks up gems or coins or other "collectibles" that add to his wealth in a game, what are those things (gems and coins etc) commonly called and how are they generally referred to in game ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

What type of document for game design? [closed]

What type of support/format do you use to store and diffuse your game design documentation? Wiki? Doc files? Files in Repository? Shared folder? Google Doc? Please provide pros and cons for each one.