Game Design Theory Level 3 – Customization and Creative Design Techniques

Use an Optional Lock-On System to Enable Players During Combat

bullseye_target

People don’t always have the best aim in video games, because some game physics require sharp hand-eye coordination skills that aren’t easy to pick up and play unless a player is already used to learning new games quickly. For all of the players that aren’t masters of game physics you can implement a auto-lock on system that helps the player aim automatically at enemies or targets on screen. You can making this lock-on subtle, where the shooting icon is gently nudged in the direction of the target without directly locking on quickly. The player would generally take over and steady their aim to fire. You can do the opposite and have a button that cycles between targets and the shooting icon moves immediately to and stays steady on the target. The amount of help and precision is up to you, but make it an optional feature that experienced players can turn off.

 

Close Battles Are More Exciting

 

In the video game world it’s been the case so far that close combat gameplay tends to be more exciting than long range gameplay. If you’ve ever played a sniper battle in a shooting game you know that the gameplay is slow and cerebral where the player is constantly using their senses to figure out where the enemy is and then quickly aiming and firing. (This is not to disparage snipers and sniping battles which can have their own awesome benefits, but it is not to the taste of most players) These battles can last quite awhile and each round can end suddenly when one of the players connects with a powerful sniper shot. These and other long-range gameplay elements, like drones and long range cannons, are generally used to let players take a break from the action and experience variety in the gameplay. While these long-range battles can be rewarding and exciting themselves it is generally not as thrilling to the average player as close-up action. 

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If your mission is to encourage a frantic action pace and provide heart-pumping action to players then you need to confine battles to more restricted spaces and encourage confrontations between the players and enemies. Let players test their skills and give them the space necessary to move around but not so much that players can run and dodge forever. It’s a balancing act that depends on things like the scale of your characters and their metrics (how big they appear on screen and how fast they move, how far they jump, etc.) as well as the number of players the level is designed for. The more players that can join in on a level, or the more major enemies the player confronts at once, the more space is necessary to let players move freely. Giving too much space will still cause problems almost every time. 


Quick Time Events (QTEs) 

Use Quick Time Events to Heighten Combat, But Don’t Overdo Them

QTE

 

This is a touchy subject for some, because there are pros and cons to using QTEs, which is where the player presses one or more buttons as they appear on-screen as icons in a specific sequence in order to play out a scene in the game. These are used so that the player can focus on watching the action on-screen and are easy press-button-watch-action sequences that combine gameplay and cut-scene elements. QTEs can be great for a dramatic finish to big boss, a wild moment where the player must jump across a long distance and barely make it, or an intense sequences where the player is completing a large-scale task. Despite the awesome ways QTEs can be used to make a game better some developers use several QTEs in a row where regular (live action) gameplay would have done just fine for one or more of the QTEs. That’s sloppy and you should let the player take matters into their own hands as much as possible and use QTEs to heighten the action and make it better. Don’t use QTEs repeatedly which will generally slow down the action and be seen as less realistic because of the loss of control the player feels.