Navigation: Design Theory

A Game Design Theory.


Humans like creating things. Drawing pictures, or creating a pottery mug. We all have the ability in us to create something. And while things we do may follow guidelines like every mug has a cup shape, if we spend a bit of time modelling and shaping our own mug it will turn out to be something rather unique.

And I think games behave in a similar way.


Sometmes there is no right or wrong way to molding a sculpture and no right or wrong way to molding a computer game. But a good structure or guideline can make a story more compelling or a game more compelling. For example beginning, middle, end if you are writing a story. Or for a game it could be the genre itself - strategy, racing, adventure, platform. Decide if there is a guidline you want to follow before starting the design of your game or if you want you can be entirely creative and come up with all the ideas on your own.


If someone has motivation to accomplish something, they will naturally do their best to achieve it. For example, in real life, someone might be motivated by coming first place in a race, maybe so they can prove to themselves that they can live up to the challenge. Some games follow this same idea and might give you a time limit that you have to do something to win. Don't touch the red lasers and you have a minute!

Some people might be motivated by getting money so they can buy better merchandise. Or they might just want to get a high score. So in your game you could have a score system or you could have coins or gold that the player has to collect that allows them to buy a better weapon. Do you remember Diablo V1 or Super Mario for the Gameboy? Maybe you can't afford a Ferarri in real life but you can in a computer game.

Easter eggs or surprises can also be an element to fuel motivation. A nice surprise is always nice. Maybe the player wants to know what they will get if they discover a hidden item. Some people like to explore and discover hidden parts of a world. Maybe they are motivated to explore. What kind of scary monster is lurking round the corner and is it dangerous to go there?

Dice Rolls

Taking a risk, in a game of course, is often very exciting. Or even strategically summing up the probability that you will win. You might lose all the money you just aquired or your character might get killed and all because of the roll of a dice but if you win you get really lucky and double your earnings or you take a chance fighting a big monster. So dice rolls might be a good game component that you want to implement. Some games, not just computer games often make dice rolls a key component to the gameplay. Monopoly or warhammer for example.

Making a game Engaging

Sometimes actually looking at an impressive piece of art can be engaging. Have you ever sat in front of a burning wood fire and stared at the burning embers with the heat warm on your face. Or have you watched a good movie and you can't wait to find out what happens in the end. A good story can be engaging and brilliant art work can be too. Also a good piece of background music can take you off to some other place. Probably for a game a combination strategy, challenges, a story and luck are the components that will make it engaging. Good Artificial Intelligence can improve a game by making it challenging and often having human opponent(s) can make a game feel competitive. In pool or snooker and some peer to peer network games, the competitive nature is one component that can add to the fun of the game.