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The Mysteries of Design Processes and Game Engines

This is a paper that I had to write for class on design processes and game engines. I also had to speak about the game that we're currently making in class in different groups. So this is just an overview of the research I've done.

Andrea Hunter-Bradley, Blogger

November 7, 2010

6 Min Read

In our grand world of games, the road to making one is a long and hard one. There are various ways, various design processes, people come up for video games. You can choose to use the core mechanic process which is simply an action verb, if you will, that is the main goal of the game. For example, for the game Zelda, the core mechanic would be exploration, or the game Sonic, which the core mechanic would be running. Another design processes is the narrative style where you tell the game in a story format; i.e. Final Fantasy. These games are more focused on characters, their development in accordance with the story as well as more cutscene oriented. Generally I find that a good amount, if not most RPGs are based on the narrative style. The next process is the demographic that targets a specific group in our society such as children or it’s specifically a sports theme. They pick an audience to target and create a game that they believe would best suit that group of people. Lastly,  there is the iterative design where it’s based on a cycle of prototyping, testing, analyzing and refining whatever idea that have chosen to come up with. They use this as a type of research to help expand on a game idea and evolve it into something that all gamers would like. There is also another design option where you have; a quick discussion about the game’s unique features and audience, discuss the rules, content and behavior, next you would re-write the previous information and finalize everything, then you detail how the features will be used in the final product. You would also have a graphic bible of how the characters look and their backgrounds and personality. The bible would also include any maps, weapons and accessories in the game. Finally, you the design process would include the dialogue and storyline that will be used in the final product.

Though it is great to have the design process and know what you want to do, if you don’t have something to help bring your ideas to life, there’s really no purpose in moving forward. That’s where the game engine comes into play. It’s a software that is used to build your game off of. It is responsible for things like the physics, rendering, sound, scripting, memory management and networking. While there are many more things that it is used for, these are just some of the basic things that they could come with. There are other engines that don’t even come with half of these things, and require programmers and game developers to input the rest of the information. There is a lot that goes into making a game that people don’t know about, but that’s why as students and even after, you should research and try to understand the things that go into making a game.


The design process that is good for me concerning my group’s game would be the core mechanics.  I think for my particular group, this would be the best choice because what we did was take a basic idea like a fighting game and we changed things around to suit our needs. We aren’t really working on something requiring us to narrate to the player and we aren’t doing anything. Also demographic wouldn’t work well either because we aren’t targeting a particular group. Our fighting game is meant for people of all ages. We’ve built it so that it’s simple enough for children and still the beat ‘em up and “knock ‘em out” that we all know and love. But for us we could also build off of the Iterative process because as a fighting game you need to prototype, test, analyze and refine your ideas and the way things work. Our group, at the moment is focusing more on the iterative process rather than the core mechanics because we have already established what we want. The next logical step would be to make a paper prototype, which we’ve decided to work on as a card game. After that, we’re going to test it to make sure that we as the game designers think the game process works because if we don’t understand it and have a good understanding of it, then neither will the players that we’re making the game for.

            The engine I personally support right now is Crystal Tools. I support this, not only because I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan, but because I appreciate the new things I experienced while playing one of the games that was built up from the Crystal Tools engine. For instance, I like the realtime rendering, graphic capabilities that I can see in both the cutscenes and the gameplay. I love the seamless cutscene to gameplay transition that is obvious in Final Fantasy XIII. You could be watching a beautiful cutscene one moment and then you’re back to the gameplay without having to go to a loading screen (which is really annoying). I think the fact that Crystal Tools is pretty advanced when it comes to the facial expressions is something that would be beneficial to my group’s project. I personally love characters that I can get more in touch with and find believable, so I would hope that by not only focusing on the fighting and  special effects, we could show off the expressions when the character get’s hit or when they’re taunting. I also support the Anvil engine due to its AI and NPC navigation system. So basically the AIs and the NPCs are more reactive to what you do as well as what is in their surroundings. I also really like that is helps to position the character’s hands and feet when doing humanistic things, i.e. climbing. That would help us when it comes to properly having them in the right positions when standing in stances or pushing themselves back up after they fall.

            This knowledge and research will help my design career because I’ll understand my audience better and what they look for. This would assist me in knowing what would be best for me and when I’m working on a video game. Even in just my personal life, I think I’ll benefit from knowing this. In my career, I’ll be able to have proper conversations with my peers on what’s out there, and be able to properly determine which engine and design process is best for me. I my future career, this research and knowledge could be the difference between me getting my dream job and someone else getting it.

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