Game Design 1b: Building a Game

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Back for more, eh? Looks like you have the game design bug! At this point, you’ve created a game design document that outlines how you would like your game to work, what elements need to be built, and how you will market that game. While the good game mechanics you’ve outlined in your GDD are key to a game’s success, they go hand in hand with the game’s artwork. Game art is so complex that there are a number of specialized career paths all focused on the different types of artwork needed for a video game. You’ll learn about those roles, as well as the basics of creating art for your video game.

With the ever-increasing technological capabilities that we have to render new worlds, it’s not surprising that many of the most popular video games in recent years use 3D graphics. Entering a 3D game space adds an entire dimension to the game world and models more precisely how we perceive reality. But that doesn’t mean we are leaving 2D game spaces or techniques behind. Take a closer look at a 3D model in one of your favorite games: you will see that the model is made of a number of flat surfaces that have 2D images, called textures, applied to them. Are you curious how all those pieces get put together? Then, try your hand at making your own 3D model!

Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to create your first level. You’ve already got a player that can jump, crouch, and run around. What obstacles will you put in the scene to keep the player challenged as they progress through the level? Houses and haystacks, or narrow paths on cliff edges? There are so many options! Let’s start designing your first level.

Game mechanics are at the core of gameplay. They determine how simulated aspects of the game world will behave and control how the player can interact with the game state. With knowledge of the fundamental concepts of computer programming, you are ready to dig deeper into the subject of game programming and put some action into game design. But with every action, you can expect an equal and opposite action. What? Back to physics again? Deciding how things move and respond to collisions in your game is where designing really gets fun.

Game rules are the fundamental building blocks that define higher-level game elements, such as game mechanics and, ultimately, gameplay. You’ve already created some game rules in the last few units: a trigger zone, movement mechanics for your player and enemies, and a timer. Now you’ll take those a step further and work them into positive and negative outcomes of missions, campaigns, and game levels. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to use goal design to create a truly long-lasting, engaging play experience.

Have you ever played a game that just felt so immersive and alive that you were compelled to extend your stay in its fictional world? If so, it was likely due, in part, to good sound design and an intuitive user interface. A well-crafted soundscape can turn a good game into a great one. Learning the principles of how to create this emotive, immersive experience is a must for any game designer.

Towards the end of a project like designing a game, your work gets closer and closer to being released into the big wide world. Your game’s quality will determine not only its success but your reputation as a game designer! What you definitely don’t want, is to ship a buggy product that keeps breaking. That would be embarrassing! To avoid this, game developers extensively test their games before release. It’s a repetitive, oftentimes laborious, task, but it is also one of the most important steps in the professional game development process. You can be absolutely sure that all of your favorite computer games were rigorously tested. That’s one of the main reasons why they turned out so well! If you want to make some truly great games, you have to make sure every element of your game is working well by following through with all quality assurance processes.

With the advent of smartphones, there has been unprecedented growth in the gaming industry. Jump on the train to school or work and look around; you’ll almost certainly see a few people playing games on their commute. Amazingly, this growth does not mean that gaming has reached its peak! With new technologies taking off such as Augmented Reality, which allows games to interact with the real world, there are exciting new horizons in store for gaming. Let’s prepare for the future and learn how our newfound Unity skills can be used to make an Augmented Reality experience.

Course Highlights

Discover how geo-location is impacting gaming trends.
Select audio files that will give your game some edge.
Determine what controls and inputs will make the most sense for your game.
Design 3D assets in Blender.
Learn what common game design blunders to avoid…like having your player character fall off the playfield!

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