Tag Archive: design


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.

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Over at the blog What Games Are there is a posted called “Why Orcs Must Die?” which talks about signifiers. In the blog post he defines signifiers as “symbolic images which convey a wealth of emotional association by virtue of their presence” and then goes on to explain:

“The culture that we live in has literally millions of choices at our fingertips, most of them bad, and so the use of a signifier acts as a helping hand. Your choice might be good or bad, but at least you know what kind of thing it is you’re buying into before you buy it. If you know it’s a game about orcs then you know it’s probably humorous in particular way and that helps you decide if it’s for you. You have a relationship with that signifier.”

What basically boils down to there are public domain brands of our shared culture which you can use in your games which people will instantly identify with. Use them to your advantage. You can make your own games using Pulado and use one of these characters or have the theme be about them. I’ve included a list of fantasy monsters below which you could use in your games:

Banshee
Brownie
Centaur
Cockatrice
Cyclops
Dragon
Dwarf
Elf
Fairy
Faun
Giant
Gnome
Goblin
Griffin
Harpy
Hippogriff
Kobold
Mermaid
Nixie
Orc
Pixie
Salamander
Satyr
Sylph
Titan
Troll
Undine
Unicorn
Warlock
Werewolf
Winged Horse
Witch
Wizard
Zombie

What signifiers can you think of?

Pulado has an option on the Gameplay Tab that when checked causes the player’s rate of fire to increase the lower their hitpoints get. So as the player takes more damage they start shooting faster and faster. This gives the player a sense of urgency and makes them feel more powerful even though they may be losing. The feature was inspired by a post on game design by Sir Lin (found here: http://www.sirlin.net/articles/slippery-slope-and-perpetual-comeback.html ).

SirLin wrote:

Perpetual Comeback

The opposite of slippery slope, I call perpetual comeback. That’s just a more descriptive term for negative feedback. (Also, negative feedback sounds like a bad thing, but it’s usually a good quality in games, so it’s helpful to have a term that doesn’t sound negative.) A thermostat uses negative feedback to keep the temperature of a room from spiraling out of control.

Perpetual comeback, then, is a quality in which being behind actually gives you an advantage. I’d like to draw a distinction between two types of this effect, though. In one, when you are behind, a force pushes on you to help improve your position. An example of this is the Fatboy mutator in Unreal Tournament. In that first-person shooter mod, when you kill an enemy, you become fatter and easier to hit. When you die, you become skinnier and harder to hit. Multiple hits magnify the effect, so if you die over and over you get skinner and skinner. Note that even if you die a lot, you are still losing (your score is not helped), but you do have an advantage (harder to hit).

Make your own games today with Pulado!

Tutorial #7 – Create A New Opponent Graphic