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

Course 404 Section 2 – Power Ups, Game Economies and Character Upgrades


One of the most important themes we talked about repeatedly throughout the lessons is empowering the player, and now we get to dedicate a whole section to just that very thing. We saved some of the best stuff for last and in this part of the design process you get to really let loose the creativity and influence the gameplay experience in major ways. We had a look before at aspects of designing a solid generic character. In this section we look more at defining the player character(s) and the gameplay that makes a character come to life. A character in a game is naturally defined by their abilities and what all is possible when the player is in control. Some characters are hands only, others use massive guns, some use ships. It’s up to you to decide what’s possible in any particular game so be kind to your players and give the main characters varied and balanced abilities. An “ability” can be almost anything, from small actions like pushing crates to flying and telepathy. The only limit is your imagination (and sometimes you or your team’s programming capabilities or the limits of your equipment / platform). When you’re designing concept never think that a particular ability is impossible to program, just try to imagine all the possible ways you might go about creating the desired effects.