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Feature: Mobile Games And The Four Layers Of Design

A new in-depth Gamasutra article from cellphone game vet Tony Ventrice (Guitar Hero Mobile) details what he identifies as four distinct layers of game desig
Cellphone game design veteran Tony Ventrice (Guitar Hero Mobile) details what he identifies as four distinct layers of game design in a new in-depth Gamasutra feature. The layers, according to Ventrice, are Concept, Paradigm, Mechanics, and Interface. On the design layer of Concept, Ventrice writes: Some of the greatest games ever designed were commercial failures because the concept didn't resonate with the consumer. Sequels and movie-licenses are successful largely because the concept is already defined in the consumer's consciousness. In a mobile game, there is no box art or demo video: the concept has to come across in the game's name. When I was working on a game using the 24 TV show license, the greatest obstacle the team faced was naming the game. …The best thing to do with a new concept is to encourage it; pick out the aspects that seem most compelling and expand on them. Tell a story. Let others tell a story. On Paradigm: Every user that picks up your game will be approaching it with a certain set of preconceptions; assumptions that are inherent to the user himself, his society and humanity in general. Games are reflections of human life so it is only natural that most games tend to fall into the same range of popular experiences such as, hunting, hiding, collecting, building, etc. It is these experiences that define paradigms. On Mechanics: A common, unspoken, belief in mobile game development goes like this: The more features and mechanics in your game, the better it will be; this is because, the more things there are for the player to do, the greater the value of the game. The above statement would be completely true if making games was not a process limited by time, money and user attention. The most important thing a designer can do is decide which features add up to a compelling whole and which features are expendable. On Interface As much as we may wish it wasn't true, interface exerts an upward influence on the mechanics; a design only works if the user intuitively understands how to interact with it, so accommodations must be made for the sake of the interface. Entire books have been written on interface design and usually the conclusion is the same: the goal of the interface is to make the interface as transparent as possible. You can now read the full feature at Gamasutra, in which Ventrice goes in depth on the four layers of game design and how they relate to mobile game development (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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