I ran across a game design blog called “Connected eXPeriences” by Troy Dunniway which has some pretty good game design information. The posts are very long (as in chapter size if it was a game design book). The three posts that I have read from it so far are very relevant to the Pulado game engine because it covers issues that we have been grappling with. Minimizing Repetitive PlayPlatformer and Character Games Design, and AI for Designers. It’s also funny that we use the same WordPress theme.

Minimizing Repetitive Play covers lots of issues having to do with identifying actions that the player would be doing over and over and limiting those actions. With the Pulado game creator we have an issue where you can setup your character with it’s one weapon and the character can shoot over and over but there is very little change in that mechanic. We’ve noticed games with only this mechanic setup have a lesser playtime than other games. However, a few other options that the Pulado game creator has are the “Comeback King”, “Charge Up Weapon #1”, and “Projectile Gravity”. Each of these options provides a variation that the player can control and I think this variation causes repetitive play to be less.

The “Charge Up Weapon #1” option lets the player hold down the fire button and decide when to release the projectile. Depending on how long they hold the fire button the projectile size will change. This variation minimizes the repetitiveness of firing the weapon. The last variation of this charge up option is that if they charge it up long enough it turns into a projectile that will destroy everything in it’s path (it becomes a mega weapon).

The “Comeback King” option is an option where the more damage a player takes the faster their weapon shoots. This causes variation for obvious reasons because the player is usually at different levels of damage all of the time which means their weapon is constantly firing at a different rate. It also means that each time they play the game they have a different weapon effectively because the fire rate changes based on their damage. It also leads to the player *wanting* to take damage to get back to the level of fire they were use to when they were low on health. It can cause them to *avoid* health power ups even.

Finally we have the “Projectile Gravity” option which gives an arc to projectiles when they are fired. This means every time a projectile is fired it is going to land somewhere different (because the player is probably moving etc). This is especially true if you have to aim or charge up the gravity on the projectile. Supposedly this is one reason that Angry Birds is so popular is because of arc of the birds in the sky. It has also been demonstrated that Flash games with physics engines in them routinely seem to get more and higher paid sponsorships. Distance games like Angry Birds and other “shoot something to see how far it will bounce” games only have very limited player interaction (you fire something and then become a spectator until the projectile stops) but are hugely popular.

The other two posts Platformer and Character Games Design and AI for Designers grapple with other issues we deal with on building the Pulado game designer daily which is adding in more enemy AI so that they aren’t as repetitive, detecting player actions in order for the engine to dynamically adjust difficulty, and building in more platformer game style capabilities.

In any event regardless of what game creator or game engine software you use you should check out those three blog posts for yourself and hopefully it will help you make better games!  Or head to the main page of the Connected eXPeriences blog.