Notes: This entry is a summary of my ‘Visual Gaming’ and ‘Game Design and Development’ introduction session. As a part of education process, this one is a Fair use as it may contain a few citation from other books or writings. Feel free to recite, add or even criticize it and use it for your own purpose.
Game is a simulation of a simulation. It is a subset of reality. It is created to control the uncontrollable. It is to take a small part of reality and simulated it within the rules created by a common man. In other words: Game is not real.
People love to play game because it is not real. Reality is rarely associated with the term ‘play’ and of course saying ‘playing reality’ would sound too corny. Playing game is the way to escape from reality and involve oneself into a simulation where the environment is controlled and there is some certainties in dealing with it.
But no, I will not discuss the ‘Philosophy of Game’ with this one – I will discuss it later, as it will need many research, readings and of course, thinking. This entry will discuss about creating game. What are the important parts to be considered to create a successful and enjoyable game. As most of us already know how to play game, wouldn’t it be great to know how to create one?
So this is Part I of many entries I will write about creating game and in this part, I start with the very basic thing, what is the elements of game?
Elements of Game
Game depend on three basic elements; the goal, the rules and the mechanic. Each of the elements is hierarchical and the first two have to be the easiest to understand and mastered while the mechanic is the element that defined the game.
The goal sometime interchangeable with the ‘winning condition’, although some games doesn’t really have a ‘winning’. The goal could be as simple as score as many points as possible to the elimination of the opposition or in those non-winning game it could be to get better more and more in each stages. In short, the goal is the condition where a player is considered the best in the game. This element has to be very easy to understand and actually, there is no point of playing game if a person doesn’t understand the goal, isn’t it?
The rules is the controlling element. This is the part where the way to achieve the goal described. For example, soccer game has a very simple rule: to achieve the ‘winning condition’, one team must sent one ball into their opponent’s goal without using their hands. That’s it, pure and simple and with this simple rule, everybody could play a soccer game by just using an empty street and a couple of stone to create the goal. There are additional rules, of course, such as the ball must not go outside the field line, the goalkeeper can hold the ball inside the penalty area, each team must consist of 11 players and so on. But the basic rule is practically simple and everybody could understand and follow it without too much hassle. Another sample of the rules is a chessboard. Without a chessboard, there is no chess game. Again, very simple.
The mechanics, also known as ‘game play’ – but I prefer the word ‘mechanics’ as I find it is quite confusing using the term ‘playing the game play’, is the way rules manipulated to achieve the goal. For example, chess game is defined by the goal of elimination (of the king piece specifically) and the chessboard. Thus the mechanic is the one which responsible for determined how many chess pieces used and how each of different chess pieces moved. In soccer game, the mechanic is the way the ball played within the field. Each game has their own specific mechanics and it should takes time to master them.
The mechanic is the differentiator between a beginner and a master. Those who able to understand, mastered and control the mechanic are those who are known as masters. In chess game, the master is the one who understand expertly with the mechanic of the chess piece’s movement. In soccer, master players are those who has total control of the ball mechanism. They are excellent with dribbling, kicking, tossing and other manipulation with the ball. In addition, a master goalkeeper is the one who knows how to anticipate the incoming ball.
Those three elements are the key to a successful and enjoyable game. The first two are obvious since there will be no game without them. The mechanics part is the tricky part, it should be easy enough to understand but not too easy so everybody could mastered it in short time. Most of the game design discussions usually talk about the mechanics design and creating a creative and innovative mechanic is the most important thing in the game design industry.
Next I will write about translating these elements into a very specific game industry, digital game (video game, computer game, mobile game and all those game created digitally) industry. Until then, keep on playing!