Game Design Theory Level 2 – Organized Development, Documentation and Core Mechanics

 

Use The Player Character to Determine Game Metrics

 

thusting_distance

 

 

Game metrics will be discussed more in-depth later but basically game metrics are the properties of the game’s movement and terrain that enable the player to explore the game world. The height of objects and platforms in the game should reflect how high the characters can jump. The size of passageways and terrain should reflect the size of the characters that will pass through them and the speed of the game itself affects how fast the player can move. These and other important game metrics should be adjusted to best suit the player character.

 

The player character’s art and code designs can make changes to the normal laws of physics and modifications to terrain to make it more gameplay friendly. Exaggerated gravity, strength, speed and endurance are a core part of many games so don’t be afraid to empower the player with cool abilities. Distances, widths and heights should be based on roughly how many “player-units” it takes to represent them in single character games. The player can jump 1 player unit up (the full height of the character). An upgrade can allow the player to jump 1.5 player units and reach additional platforms at the 1.5 player unit level.

 

Common Game Metrics:

 

-Height of the player character

 

-Width/Height of passageways – Slightly bigger than player

 

-Walking and running Speed

 

-Walk, run and jumping distances

 

-Vertical jump distance
-Melee distance and projectile distance

 

Distances should be in multiples or fractions of the main distance. A platform could be at a half-jump height, whole jump height or double jump height. Anything outside of the double jump height would let the player know they cannot interact with that object by jumping. When you have multiple characters you need to balance the metrics in the game to accommodate the different character sizes, shapes, powers, etc.

 

WALKING IS NOT GAMEPLAY!

You’ve played games where an excessive amount of mission time is spent walking around from one place to another with not much to do or see along the way. That’s not gameplay and it’s not fun for players to walk all the way to a different side of the map just to be told to walk somewhere else and give something to someone. There needs to be action, conflict, engagement or some kind of spectacle for players to behold along the way to the different locations in your game. It’s an adventure with activities and excitement not a stroll or casual walk. Games that make their player travel far deserve to give their players a fast way to move, and even dashes, rolls, sprints and vehicles to make physical travel much more fun.

 

If your player character has a jump ability you should take care to get the jump right. The jump needs to begin immediately after the button is pushed, because it’s used in dangerous and time-sensitive situations in a game. The character should reach the max height of the jump quickly, cover a certain distance and then fall back down just as quickly. If the player is allowed to double jump it should occur before the player begins to come down, so that it doesn’t feel like wonky physics. When you land, the landing should stick and the player should return to their normal pose. Skidding and sliding make it too difficult for players to judge distance and timing which causes frustration. I would only recommend it for ice levels and similar themes.

 

Speaking of physics in a game, you have a base model to choose from which is that on Earth. But of course you can mix things up in interesting ways by simulating zero gravity and space physics. Many games will tweak real life physics in several ways to accommodate gameplay and make the game more fun. Super realistic physics aren’t always the most fun physics for a game.