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Unit 3 – Game Design Concepts

Items In This Unit


  • Game designer’s checklist
  • 3 key game design rules
  • Visual & audio game elements
  • Game controls & input devices

Game Designer’s Checklist


  1. All games should be FUN!
  2. The main character should be special with special powers, weaknesses, visuals, smarts etc.
  3. Easy start of the game
  4. Don’t scare first-time players
  5. Let players build skills and grow with the game
  6. Clear and intuitive game objective ensures makes for a better game and easier game design
  7. Never stop engaging your audience in your game. Build on the excitement from one level to another, as the game progresses, by introducing more rewarding challenges, interesting environments as well as more intelligent obstacles
  8. As the player is getting further in the game the enemies or obstacles are also getting more challenging
  9. Provide familiar or expected game controls already established in the game industry
  10. Stick to the same key controls for the entire game
  11. Stick to consistent gameplay
  12. Keep the game flow consistent
  13. Keep the game unpredictable to ensure continued player interest
  14. Use effective sound effects for various game events to enhance players experience
  15. Use effective background music if it adds to the “feeling” of the game
  16. Don’t overdo it with either visuals or audio unless appropriate
  17. If a player needs to make a big tactical or strategic decision in the middle of a game it may be best to keep things simple
  18. Game psychology is important
  19. When a player does something “good” they expect to be rewarded
  20. Rewards enhance player’s game interest

3 Key Game Design Principles

Visual & Audio Elements

  • Game Intro
    • Some games introduce the game with a background story.
  • Start Menu
    • Every game includes a start-up screen, typically with instructions on how to start the game
  • Game Demo
    • With no user activity, some games provide game demonstrations by showing glimpses of the game
  • Game Environment
    • The game environment is what is shown during gameplay
  • Main Player or Character(s)
    • Typically, the main character of the game and the central focus of the game. The game lives and dies with the main player.
  • Enemies & Obstacles
    • These are the constraints that challenge the player during the lifetime of a game.
  • Top Scores
    • Some games keep historical hi-scores and allow the player to enter their name if they reach a hi-score.
  • Score Indicator
    • Scoreboard typically appears at the top of the game environment screen
  • Final Resolution
    • Some games show “happy ending” text and graphics or video
  • Credits
    • Game credits typically appear at the end of a fully completed game or as part of a game demo.
  • Sound Effects
    • Sound effects are part game player actions (e.g. breaking something, hitting an enemy, providing a correct answer) to enhance the overall player game feel
  • Background Music
    • Some games play background music during gameplay to enhance the game perception and satisfaction

Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qCh_c9ryJI 

Game Controls and Input Devices

There are many different game input controls. Depending on the type of game one game control may be more suitable then another. The controls include:

  • Gamepad
  • Paddle
  • Joystick
  • Trackball
  • Steering wheel
  • Pedals
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Touchscreen
  • Motion sensing
  • Light gun
  • Rhythm game controllers
  • Mic
  • Camera

Unit Assignment

Watch the full Streets of Rage game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qCh_c9ryJI 


Previous Unit 2 – Types of Video Games
Next Unit 4 – Video Game Graphics Design

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