In 2012, a new envisioning of Microsoft’s popular racing game series, Forza, appeared on the scene: Forza Horizon. Forza Horizon wasn’t simply a racing game, it was an open-world driving game that invited players to explore a vast world in a variety of cars and progress through a series of tasks and challenges. Even though I was only nominally familiar with the Forza series at the time, I tried my hand at Forza Horizon. It didn’t grab me, but I could certainly see the appeal. Being unleashed into a relatively expansive world solely as a car, so to speak, was something different, if not entirely new. (A few Need for Speed and Burnout games pre-date Forza Horizon.)
While it is hard to create multiple endings in video games that reflect a player’s actions; video game developers give players a false sense of control of video games. They give players moral choices to choose that do not actually affect the game’s ending or the player’s choices because players are given very limited control over a game and are pushed into a single ending. Even if a player decided to perform low moral actions non-player characters will not react adversely based upon player choices. No matter which moral path a player chooses to walk, their actions are never reflected. Rather it is a dilemma created by developers that have no real consequence. Continue reading The Morality System – Does it work in video games?
Image captured by Rob
As I delve further in to game design, I find that they way I approach a game is beginning to shift. The common idea that I’ve heard bandied about is that ‘the magic disappears’ once you know how to make games. This statement is true, but also barely scratches the surface. Yes, that starry-eyed wonder and easy engrossment may fade somewhat, but it doesn’t simply leave a hole in your experience. Instead, it is replaced by a deeper understanding and appreciation for well crafted mechanics, narratives and experiences. It becomes less of “Look how awesome this game is!” and more of “Look how well the designer pulled this off!” This is what can be referred to as Playing Like a Designer – the act of seeing how the disparate game elements function and work together – to see the Man Behind the Curtain. With this column, I hope to take you for a bit of a trip behind that curtain, and talk in detail about the nuts and bolts behind some of my favorite games.
So with that, let’s get started! Let’s take a look at how Klei Entertainment crafted a top-notch stealth system for Mark of the Ninja.
Creating something – no matter what it may be – is a noble endeavor. It takes no small amount of passion, dedication and perseverance to see a project to completion, and games are no exception. I’ve been at the process of making my own games for a while now, and I can truly say that it has been some of the most rewarding work of my life. But it hasn’t come without its fair share of missteps and trials, and I’ve learned an enormous amount along the way. This is what I hope to share with you through this column.
I can’t teach you to make the next Minecraft. I can’t tell you the secret to making a game sell. I can’t guide you to a job in the AAA games industry(because I’ve never had one). But what I can do is share my thoughts and experience with the hope of helping you – even a little – with the process of designing and making your own games.
Continue reading So You Want to Make Games: Motivation and Goals