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In Gamasutra's latest feature, Rayman Origins designer Chris McEntee explains Ubisoft's "rational design" approach, and why he believes it's a key to success in the game design field.

March 27, 2012

2 Min Read

In Gamasutra's latest feature, Rayman Origins designer Chris McEntee explains Ubisoft's "rational design" approach, and why he believes it's a key to success in the game design field. Conceived by several Ubisoft veterans, the rational game design method was implemented in the publisher's sidescrolling game Rayman Origins, which was praised by critics and gamers alike as one of last year's best platformers. McEntee explains, "Rational design is all about eliminating unnecessary information, making things inherently readable, understandable and apparent, introducing mechanics in an orderly and easily digestible fashion, and preserving the learning and difficulty curves of a game, known as macro flow. "In principle, it is best to provide a player with significantly interesting and deep mechanics that are well explored and exploited through clever rationalized level design, rather than injecting the game full of one-shot gameplay mechanics to feign depth." He points out the portal gun in Valve's Portal as a good mechanic that can carry an entire game by itself, thanks to the puzzle-platformer's employment of proper gameplay elements that help emphasize the usefulness and depth of the mechanic. "We try, as designers, to overstuff our games with content, ideas and objectives because we think that makes it more clever or fun," says McEntee. He argues that less is more when it comes to designing games. He adds, "When we rationalize our game systems and keep things simple but deep, we can truly create a good and meaningful gameplay experience that is also efficient for the team and easy to troubleshoot through iterative play-testing. I feel that rationalization is one of the keys to success in the game design field." The full feature, in which McEntee goes into depth on how to apply rational design and how it served as the core for Rayman Origins, is live now on Gamasutra.

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