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GameDev Protips: Two Core Principles Of Success For Game Designers

Principles of success for game designers.

Daniel Doan, Blogger

November 29, 2016

2 Min Read

When you think about it, the game designer does not completely design the entire gaming experience — the experience itself is an esoteric concept based on many arbitrary variables that we as game designers do not control. Two main things that dictate the core game experience are the game’s mechanics and dynamics. As designers, we control the mechanics, but we do not necessarily control the dynamics. The bulk of the gameplay come from the game’s dynamics.

We as designers can only hope the desired effect is created when we build a game. For example, if we’re trying to design a platforming game, the end result that we’re looking for would be a fun game where a player surpasses obstacles with platforming. However, the player will be the person playing the game, not the designer. Game designers merely define a platform to facilitate problem solving. Even if we might have a great idea and our implementation may be immaculate, still at least 75% of the gameplay is outside our control, which is where feedback loops come in.

There are two main types of feedback loops: positive and negative. They ultimately guide the gaming experience by either giving positive reactions or rewards, thus encouraging a certain behavior to be repeated. This type of feedback creates certain habits. On the other hand, negative feedback loops try to discourage certain actions. Positive feedbacks loops are crucial for gameplay. They reward good actions and make players feel victorious. They break up the monotony of a game without having it feel too long or drawn out. Negative loops have a similar effect. Most importantly they keep the player actively involved and developing new strategies throughout the game.

Actionable Takeaways: A game designer’s job is to design the right mechanics to keep the player engaged and having as much fun as possible. This can be accomplished by using reinforcement loops. Both positive and negative loops are important to consider and implement in your game, as they guide certain actions and behaviors — helping players learn the mechanics of the game in order to be successful and come back for more.

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Thank you so much for reading my article! I’m Daniel Doan, the Co-Founder of Black Shell Media. We're a publishing and marketing firm dedicated to helping indie developers succeed.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, or stalk me on Instagram for more game development and design tips!

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