Computer Games ZGEN2301 Game Development

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Computer Games ZGEN2301 Game Development Powered By Docstoc
					    Computer Games

       Game Design
(& [some on] Development)


• Game Elements
• Game Design
• Documentation
• Design Process
• Design Team
• Concept Document
Necessary(?) Game Elements -
• Entertainment
   – “Fun” factor
• Interaction
   – Player makes choices
   – Game changes/responds to choices
• Goals
   – Things that can be achieved
• Challenges
   – Player must strive (invest)
• Conflict
   – All good drama requires conflict

• Game must be designed to possess
5 Components to a Multimedia
Product (Game) - Elin
• Content
   – Media (pictures, models, video), software that compose product
• Features
   – E.g., AI, 3D rendering, online play
• Functional control
   – Real (mouse etc.) and virtual (buttons) input devices
• Look and Feel
   – “Ambience” – style, colour, texture, lighting, fonts, icons, layout
• Structure
   – Order and connectedness of material

• Games also have:
   – Users (demographic pitched at)
   – Subject and genre
On (the importance of) Design
• Design is omnipresent
  – Every human-made object/process has been
• Practiced across many disciplines
  – Art, Science, Business, Engineering, Sport, …
  – Different approaches / methodology
• Combines “left & right brain process”
  – Methodology + Creativity
Disciplines & Design
 Process very discipline specific

• Fashion                           • Sport
    – Dress                            – Rule change
• Architecture                         – Training program
    – Bridge                        • Entertainment
• Science                              – Game / Movie / Book
    – Experiments                   • Governance
• Technology                           – Taxation system
    – Mobile Phone                  • Law
    – Aeroplane                        – Censorship for new media
• Education                         • Business
    – Course                           – Corporate structure
Art, Craft, Science & Creativity
• Is game design an art, craft, or science?
   – Elements of each E.g.,
       • Art – Idea, Story
       • Craft – Gameplay, realisation of ideas as code
       • Science – Underlying algorithm and data structure design
   – Perhaps craft dominates
• Creativity the hardest element to quantify
   – Makes for a truly stand-out game

   – “One of the most difficult tasks people can perform, however much
      others may despise it, is the invention of good games…” – Carl Jung

• Industry of Computer Games and a shift to making an engineering-
  like discipline?
   – Loss of creativity?
Genesis of a Game?
• Original Concept
  – Commercial
  – Indie
  – Mod
• Derivative
  – Genre Copy
• Sequel
• License
  – Movie Spin-off
Schell’s The Art of Game Design
What is a Game? – Two
Definitions from Schell
•   Games are entered willfully   • Fun is pleasure with surprises
•   Games have goals              • Play is manipulation that
•   Games have conflict               satisfies curiosity
•   Games have rules              •   A toy is an object you play
•   Games can be won and lost         with
•   Games are interactive         •   A good toy is an object it is
                                      fun to play with
•   Games have challenge
                                  •   A game is a problem-solving
•   Games can create their own        activity, approached with a
    internal value                    playful attitude.
•   Games engage players
•   Games are closed, formal
Schell’s Map
• Designer is creating an
    – For the Player
    – Using the medium of the Game

• Experience is subjective/relative
   to player
    – Number of “artistic” elements
• Game is the vehicle of experience
    – Number of
• Developer follows a process
    – There are business practicalities
      & constraints
Schell’s Elemental Tetrad (4 Basic
• Mechanics                         More Visible

   – Procedures, rules, goals
• Story
   – Sequence of events in
• Aesthetics                    Mechanics                 Story
   – “Look & Feel”
• Technology
   – Underpinning medium
• All essential &
  interacting                        Less Visible
Steps in Making a Game?
• Concept
• Pitch
• Development
  – Team Formation
  – Scripting
  – Coding & Asset Development
  – Testing
• Production
Role of Documentation in Games

• Documentation vital in game design and development
• From Designer
   – Pitch/sell idea to financers
   – Communicate concepts to artists and programmers
• Amongst development team
   – Working as team – using other’s code and assets
• To Users & Games Community
   – Manual, websites, media releases, etc.
• In form of:
   – Text, Images, Storyboards, Movies
A Design Process
• 5 Steps in the design process (Elin, 2001)
    –   Concept Document
    –   Competitive Analysis
    –   Top-Level Design
    –   Cost/Benefit Analysis
    –   Functional Specification
• Goal is to produce the Functional Specification
    – Formal definition of the product and its capabilities
    – Earlier steps must be completed successfully
• Other major steps in development from concept to store shelves:
    – Contractual
         • Developer & contractor
    – Prototype
         • Proof of concept
    – Production
Design Phases
• Concept Document
   – Short 1-2 (2-4) page “pitch”, idea of product
   – Audience, subject, genre, theme, etc.
• Competitive Analysis
   – Commercially viable concept?
• Top-Level Design
   – 5-7 (10-20) page document providing greater product detail in 5
     component areas
   – Also called Game Treatment
• Cost/Benefit Analysis
   – Turn design into a marketable (profitable) product
   – Estimate costs & assign priorities to work
• Functional Specification
   – Formal description of the product and features
   – Specification to which production team will work
   – Quality Assurance template
The Design Team
• 3 key roles in multimedia design
  – Producer
     • Business end of product
  – Director
     • Creative vision of product
  – Writer
     • Key documentation (e.g., functional specification)
• Not necessarily formal positions
  – No single standard in industry
     • One person might fill more than 1 role
  – Might not even be a formally recognised position
• Project Manager
• Manages
  –   Time
  –   Money
  –   People
  –   Resources
• Must be able to deliver product
  –   Good quality
  –   On time and in budget
  –   Attractive to consumers
• Creative Vision for product
   –   Establishing
   –   Maintaining
   –   Expressing
   –   Supervising
• “On top of” the design
   – Oversees day-to-day process
   – Understands how all fits together
• Needs
   –   Aesthetics
   –   Understanding of industry
   –   Understanding of media
   –   Understanding of technology
   –   Management skills
• Writes for internal audience
   – Design & Production team
   – Customer
   – Key design documents
      •   Concept document
      •   Top-level design
      •   Functional Specification
• Writes for an external audience
   – The Users
   – Number of docs
      •   In-product text
      •   Manuals
      •   Dialogue
      •   Release notes
The (High) Concept Document
• Marks the territory & acts as a proposal
• Internal document
     – Team all working on same page
     – Pitch game to producer/financier
•   Captures spirit of game
•   Should contain/address
     –   Concept/premise/subject of game
     –   Audience/market demographics
     –   Genre
     –   (Unique) Features and selling points
     –   Theme + Look & Feel
     –   Functional Control
     –   Gameplay and story-line
• No strict (agreed on) structure
Example: M5 (Mad, Monstrous,
Murderous, Medieval Mechanisms) –
Partial Concept Document [Spike, 2005]
  •       Players explore the physics of the world by                 •   Two team and 3 team version.
          building things in 1PS mode.                                •   Physical setup as individual team compounds
  •       No direct combat – only achieved through                        separated by very high walls (5 – 10 metres?).
          mechanisms built. Players kept separate from                     –    For two team, 2 rectangular regions with a common
          one another.                                                          wall that divides.
      –        Walled in area.                                             –                                                      pie-
                                                                                For three team, 3 rectangular regions arranged as pie-
                                                                                slices (the peace symbol).
  •       A HL2 mod.
  •       Death match – rewarded for injuring/killing the
                                                                      •   Game should be configurable
                                                                           –                         can’
                                                                                What objects can and can’t be included
          opponent team’s players.
                                                                           –    Whether and what sort of resource limitations exist.
      –        Optionally other types of games    Each team has
               to complete construction of an object (high tower?)         –    The underlying mathematics (e.g., force of gravity)??
               to win.                                                •   Play balance is going to be an issue. Hopefully no
  •       Chiefly renaissance style technology – balloons,                killer Mcguffin that the first to build will always win
          catapults; siege towers; carts; etc.                            with.
      –        However aspects of steam punk and above – gas          •   Still questions to be answered
               cylinder propulsion; telescopes or some sort of             –    How will remote control & remote sensing work?
               remote sensing for spying on opposition.
                                                                           –    How will resources be made available?
  •       Technology not prescribed but arises through                     –    How will sticking things together work?
          players combining things together.                               –    Will the time to construct something be in proportion
      –        For instance a deadly cart is built by combining a               to its usefulness (perhaps the number of pieces that
               wooden palette with four circular blades, a                      are in it – no need to do anything)?
               camera/telescope and some sort of remote control            –    What weapons, if any, should players be given? A kind
               mechanism. That vehicle is then mounted on a                        short-
                                                                                of short-range shotgun for self protection?
               catapult and fired over the wall to the opponent’s
               area. The player then drives it around, running over        –                     seed”
                                                                                Do we need to “seed” each scenario with some starting
               the opponents.                                                   equipment so action happens early? I think not.
  •       Small teams
      –        2 or 3 member?
Functional Specification
(Game Script)
• Outline of features and function of the product
• Intended for an internal audience
     –   The “bible” for the product creation
• Focussed from a user perspective:
     –   What user sees and can do
• Largish document
     –   Typically 50 – several hundred pages
• Exact structure of Specification varies, but reasonable template is:
     –   Executive Summary
     –   Mechanics of product (game)
     –   User Interface
           • Global Conventions
     –   Node Map
     –   Node-by-node Description
           • What
           • How
           • Media
     –   Misc (screen layouts, story, etc.)
Nodes & “Node Maps”
• A “relatively” self-contained portion of content
   – A “chunk” of the product
   – User can access or activate
   – E.g., Title Screen, Movie, Player management utility, vehicle
     designer, in-game
• Node map shows the connections between nodes
   – What events or actions lead to transitions between
   – Flow chart
• Functional (and technical) specification lay out details
   – Node map shows meta structure
• Node-by-node description details features, media, UI,
  and how of each node
Some Design Guidelines
• Viewing Game (multimedia) design as a craft or art, not a science
     – Certain guidelines or rules of thumb to follow
     – No formula for guaranteed success
• Give the user what they want
     – Maximise user control
•   KISS
•   UI is key
•   Consistent genre and theme
     – Maintain genre conventions
•   Enjoyable
•   Bullet-proof
•   Provide consistent and timely feedback on user actions
•   Sound
     – Appropriate and not obtrusive
• Employ familiar metaphors
Perceptual Factors in Design
• Understanding perceptual processes can make for better game
   – Conversion of raw sensory data into meaning
• Some principles
   – Similarity – people group objects on the basis of visual or other
   – Depth cuing – brightness (fade) and colour shift (blue haze)
   – Maintain scale factors
   – Association – objects associated with a phenomenon can be used to
     convey that phenomenon (slow-motion to convey speed)
   – Memory and
       •   The magic number 7 (+/- 2)
       •   Primacy & Regency
       •   Repetition
Technical Specification
• How the functional specification will be realised
    – Crossover from Design to Development
• Not always written as a separate document
    – Traditionally functional and technical specification were folded together
•   Primary author is lead programmer and/or technical directory
•   Primary readership is lead programmer and programming team
•   Details such things as:
    –   How product (game) mechanics/laws are to be realised
    –   Platform & O/S issues
    –   Code management & design (Objects)
    –   Functions of main control loop
    –   Data attributes and data flow
    –   “AI”
    –   Networking (multiplayer)
    –   UI
    –   Media Control
Example – Operation Flashpoint
• 10 Full-time Developers + 3 contractors
• Development Period: 4 Years
   – Released mid 2001
• Development Budget: US$600,000
• Development Platform:
   – Windows, Visual C++, 3DS Max, Photoshop, MSOffice
• Project Size:
   –   10,000+ Files
   –   250,000 lines of C++ code (some assembler also)
   –   5,000 Textures
   –   800 3D models
   –   100,000 words (6 languages)
   –   60 missions (scenarios)
Example – Half Life 2

• 5-years! (commenced in 1999)
• US $40M budget
• 84 member team
• Considerable drama
  – Missed release dates
  – Lawsuit between Valve & Vivendi
  – “Theft” of code by “hacker”
Relevant Tasks
• Delves
   – Developer's Game Postmortem: Visit and read through a
     developer's post-mortem on a recent game. Summarise the post-mortem in a
     report that includes details of the design and development process (length of
     time, budget, number of developers and roles, lines of code and or assets
     created), and the key lessons learnt by the developers.
• Quests
   – Concept Document for Own Game: By the addage that everyone has one
     good novel in them, everyone also has one good game in them. Write the
     concept document (sometimes also called high concept) for a game of your
     imagining. Your conceptual game should be about a computer game that could
     be created. It should cover: target audience (market), subject of the game,
     genre, look and feel, interface, intended platform, and unique (selling) features.
• Odysseys
   – Art, Craft, Science Debate: Touched on in the lecture is the debate about
     whether game design is an art, craft, science; or something of each. Research
     this topic, looking at the opinions of experts in the field such as Crawford,
     Rollings, Adam, Morris, and others (e.g., discussions on gamasutra). Write a
     report that seeks to present the issues and opinions; before moving on to state
     your own beliefs. Use evidence in the form of examples drawn from modern
     games, to support your thesis.
Useful Resources
• The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses – Schell,
    Morgan Kaufmann
• Chris Crawford on Game Design – Crawford, New Riders
• Designing and Developing Multimedia – Elin, Allyn and
• Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design –
    Rollings & Adam, New Riders
• Game Architecture and Design – Rollings & Morris, New
•   Many other books and sites exits.

• Game Elements
• Game Design
• Documentation
• Design Process
• Design Team
• Concept document

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Description: Computer Games ZGEN2301 Game Development