Game Design Theory Level 3 – Customization and Creative Design Techniques

Decide Early Whether to Use Scripted or Procedural Gameplay

 

This is a “world tier” decision and it makes a big difference as to how you design and program gameplay. Scripted gameplay is where each level with all of it’s obstacles and it’s entire layout are known beforehand and programmed manually, so the designer has complete control of every event in the game. Most games are designed this way. In the picture below, the obstacle (a saw) could be there as a scripted element, and it could be a one-time scripted event where the player must jump before hitting the saw.

 

procedural vs scripted

 

However a procedure-generated game will use patterns of code (algorithms) to randomly generate gameplay elements so that every time the game is played there will be a slightly different outcome. As the designer of the game pictured above you could decide that the way the platform is generated and it’s movement could be randomized (procedural) and there could be a series of platforms and obstacles that appear in a random way so that the player never knows exactly what is coming next.

Now imagine a space shooter game that has three waves of enemies in a level. A scripted gameplay version would mean that the designer tells the computer exactly how many of each type will appear in each wave and when. A procedural version would tell the computer to create random groups of enemies of various types for each wave based on certain variables.

 

A very popular procedure-generated game is Tetris. Each time you play Tetris it’s similar to the last time, with the difficulty rising at a certain pace and pieces coming down faster. The pieces themselves however are randomly generated so that you never know what piece is coming after the next one. A scripted version of Tetris would have the same pieces come down in the same order every time, which could get quite boring. The main point of procedural gameplay is to create variety and a diversity of experiences where no two experiences are exactly alike.

 

 


Use the Beat Chart to Point Out Weaknesses in Your Game’s Overall Design

 

The beat chart is a great tool as we mentioned before to judge the flow of gameplay in a level and in the game as a whole. The beat chart for a game lays out all the elements within a level and helps you see the overall patterns of gameplay. You mix up obstacles, enemies, puzzles, and bosses to find the best combinations for each stage of the game. In general the game will get harder as you go along so you want to make sure that the gameplay reflects that in the beat chart. You also want to have a few “wow” moments in the game that players will remember. In general you would have one in the beginning of the game, another towards the middle and a big finale at the end.

 

Beat charts should be updated as you change things in the game, so you can always have an accurate view of what’s going on in the game. For procedural games you want to list what types of algorithms or code is being used and what the range of effects may be. For instance a procedural game could randomly select plane 1, 2 or 3 as an enemy. In that case all three outcomes need to be listed as possible at this one point in the game in the beat chart. This will let you keep track of what is going on at all times and it will be easier to understand when you come back to make changes or when you need to find a bug.  

A Sample Beat Chart for the game pictured above could look something like this:

Sample Beat Chart for the video game “HacKnight”

 

Level 1 – HacKnight Facility

beat chart logo

 

TOD (Time of Day)

Indoors (Day)

 

Progression

Training – beginning tutorial

 

Estimated Play Time

5-10 minutes

 

Color Map

Aqua (RGB values 0, 255, 255) , Medium teal blue (RGB values 0, 83, 142), Navy Blue (RGB values 0, 19, 33)

Enemies

Target Bots

 

Mechanics

Crouch, Running, Jumping, Shooting, Jump-Shooting, Run-Shooting

 

Hazards

Spikes, Swinging Blade, Mine, Moving / Falling Platforms, Flames, Giant Laser

 

Power-ups – N/A Special Abilities – N/A Economy – N/A

 

Bonus Materials – N/A

 

 

Soundtrack – Level_1.mp3 by “Whoever The Musician”