Basic Design Principals

A resource for Tech Leads

Here is a few things to take into consideration while coming up with a design for a game.

Player Empathy

The design should always have the player in mind when designing a game. Being able to objectionally see how a player may play the game will lead to a better gameplay experience for the player.


When and where possible and appropriate always and for every input provide feedback to the player. Even if it's an “I don't understand” response.

Grounding the Player

The player always needs a sense of direction. At any given point the player should have an immediate goal, a mid range goal, and an overall goal. Without this the player may loose interest and stop playing the game.

A Continuous Experience

The player should always be entertained. The moment the player finds himself standing there waiting for something to happen, he'll potentially walk away from the game. This may not be a bad thing if your game is long and needs places for the player to stop and take a break. But the game should compensate for this and have a draw that brings the player back to the game. On the other hand if the game is reasonably short then we don't want them to become bored because they'll never come back. One last point, it's import not to give the player repetative tasks just to keep them occupied. Also, any cut scenes need to have the ability to bypass them.

Another point to be considered is the player's save points. Always strive to allow the player to save when they want to. Also allow them to name the save anything they want. Taking this into account will allow the player to pause the game whenever he wants as well.


The player should feel like he is actually in the game. Things that break this vivid “dream” need to be smoothed out so they don't jar him from this fantasy.

Design Elements

  • Interface Design - The player will be looking at this a lot.
  • The Start-up Screen - Allow the player to bypass and come back later.
  • Customizable Controls - Everything and anything.
  • Cheat Codes - Appeal to as many people as possible.
  • Tutorial or Practice Mode - They have to learn sometime.
  • Structure and Progression - A game should be easy to learn, but difficult to master
  • Game Play
    • Dead Man Walking - Don't misslead the player and leave the player wondering what to do next.
    • Protect Newbies - Don't let them get owned all the time, they'll loss interest.
    • Play it again, Sam - As the player plays through your game he shouldn't have to start all over just because he died. NOT FUN!
    • Knowledge - Everything you need to know to play the game should be in the game.
    • Offer levels of difficulty - Eases the player into the game and gives more options to the player. We love options.
design/design_ideas.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/19 14:21 by
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