Game Design Theory Level 4 – Advanced Game Mechanics and HUD / GUI Elements

Always Preview the Objective


Let’s say you’re planning on having a character an objective in a large or crowded area. You want to show the player what the objective is in this area, either by focusing on the objective first and then showing more of the area until the full area has been shown or the reverse where the view starts off with the player or the area itself and then zooms in or otherwise focuses on the objective. Having the preview show the general path to the objective is also helpful. The whole point is to help the player make sense of a scene and figure out what they are supposed to be doing so that they can go back to having fun and experiencing the gameplay. You can of course get more creative with the preview and do all kinds of special views (thermal, night vision, x-ray vision, etc.) to really give a theatrical look to the game. People enjoy drama, action and theatrics in their games as well as they do experiencing the gameplay.


Give Players Opportunities to Catch Their Breath


Players will enjoy a game that provides them “non-stop” action-packed gameplay but in reality people are not robots and they have physical limits to how long they can play at their mental and physical peak. Games use complicated patterns, pressing buttons rapidly, moving the joysticks with precise movements, and having to make quick decisions with several enemies and obstacles, etc. to keep players challenged but it’s equally important to give players some down time between big action sequences, and not in any specific pattern but just one that fits well with your gameplay.

 Capture1Consider a simple or light mini-game to give players a change of pace. 

Some games feature whimsical, soft gameplay and don’t require a breather because the game itself is a breather. For all other games you should periodically provide less intense, but still interesting gameplay to make your game feel “action-packed” and more importantly, well-paced. Your game has good pacing when the action is balanced with other elements well enough to provide a balanced experience that’s in the perfect spot between too intense and too boring. When you’re looking at your beat charts look for long periods with no breaks in the action an add a softer section to balance it out. Look for the best times for players to get a checkpoint and make sure they get ample chances to save their progress.


Imagine yourself as a player and where you would want to save, and let as many people as you can try out your test builds to see how you can improve the flow of the game. Think as a player and a designer simultaneously. Remember that you are designing specifically for players.