Navigating the Game Design Landscape: A Step-by-Step Guide
The game development industry has shed its image of a small-time hobby-based outing to turn into a billion-dollar sea of opportunity. The sector has attracted more actors into the ecosystem thanks to outstanding technological advancements. But there are still misconceptions about what goes on behind the scenes, one of which is about game design and how “easy” it is. Join ChicMic, and let’s navigate the game design landscape step by step.
What is Game design?
Game Design is the creative side of the game development process. It concentrates on the interactive elements within a video game. Designers design storylines, mechanics, and graphics that shape a game. Here are some critical aspects of game design:
Gameplay Mechanics: Game designers create the core gameplay mechanics that include movements, combat, puzzles, and progression systems. These mechanics dictate how players interact with the game.
1. Level Design: Designers are responsible for crafting levels and environments that challenge and engage players. They determine the placement of obstacles, enemies, and rewards to create a balanced and enjoyable experience.
2. Player Experience: Game design ensures players have a satisfying and meaningful experience. This includes providing clear objectives, feedback, and a sense of progression.
3. Balancing: Game Designers fine-tune the difficulty and balance of the game. They adjust enemy AI, resource availability, and challenges to create a gameplay experience that is challenging but not frustrating.
4. Storytelling: While game art sets the visual stage, game designers are often responsible for the game’s narrative structure. They create story arcs, character development, and dialogue that fit within the gameplay.
5. Iteration and Testing: Game design involves continuous iteration and playtesting. Designers gather player feedback and adjust to improve the gameplay, mechanics, and overall player experience.
Types of Game Design
These are the different types of game design:
1. Game Mechanics Design: A fundamental aspect (as explained above) and distinct type of game design, mechanics design defines the interactions between game elements and characters. These interactions are responsible for providing a seamless gameplay experience for players.
2. UX Design: Game designers continuously work on game flow, interactions, wireframes, and layers to create a seamless user experience. They execute playtests to understand the player’s POV and smoothen the issues within gameplay.
3. UI Design: Game Designers create the game menu, color palette, and icons that would enrich the user experience. They must ensure the navigation between different menus and screens is easy to grasp.
4. Level Design: Game designers create game missions, levels, stages, and goals that add to game engagement. These levels make challenging gameplay for the players to play and win to proceed to the next level.
5. Sound Design: Sound designers collaborate with other designers to understand the game and create appropriate soundtracks and elements. A game contains several sound elements like theme music, action music, environment sound, etc., which add to the overall gaming experience.
6. Narrative Design: The narrative design involves creating a harmonious combination of game script, story, and character dialogues. The game designers work on the game plot from the game writers and make the game around it.
How is Game Design Different From Game Development?
To differentiate between the two, we first need to understand what game development is. Game Development involves all the technical factors of the game. The developer will write codes and programs and implement the artistic effects and elements while addressing the technical limitations. A game developer’s task is to arrange the designer’s game visions, ideas, and drawings into the code. Game development provides the game’s backbone through the technical aspects, differentiating it from game designing.
Here are the key differences between game design and game development:
1. Scope of work
Game designers are busy focussing on the gameplay and rules of the game. They create various game elements, backstories, player’s progress, character designs, etc. Game developers focus on how to make the game work. They bring the game to life through codes and constant debugging processes. Developers also spend hours troubleshooting hardware challenges and compatibility on consoles and devices that will support the game.
2. Work Requirements
Most game developers and designers have bachelor’s degrees in software engineering or computer sciences. Some companies even hire candidates with diplomas if they have appropriate work experience. Any developer or designer can complete certifications to upskill themselves and gain better knowledge of the industry. It will only help them find better opportunities within the industry.
Admittedly, a game designer must have a strong passion for video games and art. Here are the other skills that a game design company would generally look for:
- Creativity and an artistic nature
- Good communication skills
- A team player
- Analytical skills
- Excellent modeling and drawing skills
Meanwhile, a game developer will handle the backend to make the game come alive. These are some essential skills that he must possess:
- Database design and software development
- User Interface (UI) Design
- Excellent coding and programming skills
- Good grasp of the latest programming languages
What Are the Steps of the Game Design Process?
The game design process is a three-stage affair – pre-production, production, and post-production. Here’s a detailed look at how a game design company goes about with its game design projects.
The game design begins with the pre-production phase. Game designers work on research, planning, scheduling, mapping, and resource gathering to ensure a smooth production process.
1. Concept Development
Game designers spend time polishing the game’s core concepts to understand critical components — the scope of the game environment, gameplay mechanics, character details, storyline, etc.
Different teams meet up for brainstorming sessions to discuss ideas and paint a common picture of the game for everyone. Designers will establish a library of textures, characters, and objects and add them during the production.
Once the story is finalized, scriptwriters work on a sketch of each scene with characters in action. It helps the team decide on cinematic directions, set pieces, and action sequences.
3. Research and Development
The team researches demographics, target audience, and marketing schemes. Meanwhile, another team researches production resources and finalizes staffing requirements and budgets.
4. Game Development Document
The Game Development Document (GDD) is the game’s blueprint for the full-fledged production process. All the departments will follow the GDD to understand their role, scope, deadlines, and resources.
A macro mapping process involves mapping all levels for the entirety of the game. It helps define the game’s direction, how to play, how to lead the player through, etc.
The team will create one or more prototypes to understand what works and what doesn’t for the game. The testers rigorously test the prototypes and give their feedback on the gameplay.
The majority of game design happens right here. The managers give all departments the green lights – 3D modeling, animation, programming – everyone gets down with it.
1. Game Art
It includes all the visual game elements — characters, props, assets, environment, and user interface elements. Game art is further divided into character art, prop art, concept art, environment art., etc. The concept artist creates character and environment illustrations that help create proper 2D and 3D models.
2. Level Action
The designers create detailed designs of each level, action sequences, and game objectives.
3D artists bring all the 3D models to life through sequential movements or individual scenes.
The 3D models undergo texturing where static meshes are put on while referring to the library of artifacts as defined during pre-production.
Lighting is an essential element, whether it’s real life or the gaming world. Designers introduce lighting to add depth and, thus, create remarkable 3D effects.
Cinematic scenes within games can be instructional clips or interludes that knit all the levels together. They could include hints, story elements, character introductions, maps, etc.
7. Menus and HUDs
Heads Up Display in the game contains on-game information displayed to the player throughout the game. This information may be directions, health, time, ammo, etc.
1. Sound Design and visual effects
Sound designers and engineers introduce sound effects, dialogues, and music to give the game its signature. Sound and visual effects together give the game a surreal feel.
2. Quality Assurance
The quality assurance team does rigorous testing, pushing the game to its absolute limits.
Based on the QA team’s feedback, designers and developers sort out the glitches to create a smooth gaming experience.
4. Packaging and promotion
Packaging involves compiling the game files into executable versions that the audience can download, install, and play. Meanwhile, in-game shots are printed and used for marketing and promotions of the game.
Now you realize how detailed and complex game design is. A lot goes on behind the scenes related to game design services to produce a highly immersive gaming experience. ChicMic possesses a team of highly experienced game designers and developers who can make your game idea come to life.