Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

System and Combat Design

Marc Acero’s Presentation notes: for more information on this presentation see And We’re Back – InterFaces 2009

Marc’s presentation was a little all over the place because his computer died so he didn’t have a Power Point presentation, but he still made some awesome points. A lot of it seemed like common sense, but it was still good to be reminded of.


Teams are important:

When in a team not every choice is going to be yours to make, so make all of your choices count.

You have to keep everyone in the loop at all times. Be sure to have up to date design documents so that any one can check them for reference at any time.

Be sure to listen to everyone. Do not get an idea stuck in your head and make it unchanging. When a lot of people’s views are challenged they immediately start thinking of ways to tear down the other person’s side instead of just listening to it.

If a team member tells you something isn’t working, don’t immediately scrap the idea. working together you can find out why it isn’t working and then make they needed changes.

With the help of a team you can make sure that you are designing for everyone and not yourself. Teammates can help you make sure you’re designing for you audiences and designing to match your resources.

Use your teammates to get an idea of how much work would be needed to implement an idea before pitching it

Design for the masses:

Don’t underestimate how stupid people can be

  • you may have to make things obvious
  • make sure that you give clear direction and teach the game mechanics early on

To make a game successful you have to design for the noob, but add something extra to keep the expert players interested.

  • examples: Gears of War reload mechanic. Noobs can just let it go and it will reload, but experts can take pride in having the skill to do the quick reload
  • Tekken vs Street fighter: Anyone can play Tekken, even if they don’t understand the mechanics, by button mashing and seeing cool things happening on screen. Experts can understand the combos and do things on purpose. Street Fighter is expert only, because you can’t button mash. You actually have to begin to learn the game mechanics to see cool things happen on screen

Always remember the 3 C’s

characters- stories, appearances, personalities
camera- first person, third person, is the camera high above or over the shoulder?
controls- need to feel natural

quick time events suck (because Marc isn’t good a them, on a side note, neither is Max Voelker)

Design an awesome difficulty curve:

having a larger number of the same enemy is not a good difficulty curve, it’s annoying.
Similarly, it has to be more than just adding hit points to enemies and giving them new attacks

Punch Out for Wii is design 101. It starts out with the opponents having the weakness shown to the player in the little cutscenes right before each match, then as the game advances the player has to figure it out themselves during the matches. In addition, new patterns and less chances to attack make each opponent harder


One response to “System and Combat Design

  1. Pingback: Attending Interfaces 2009 « Tara Tefertiller

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