Player Centric Design - Part 1

Designing and implementing gameplay that is fun is a hard problem, often met with subjectivity, generalizations and criticism. For the scope of this two part post, I will discuss the design of gameplay as it pertains to the player's mechanics (what the player can do) and the AI (NPCs and/or the world simulation) within the game world. In two parts, I will describe a methodology that game developers can use to formally express the design of the intended gameplay which tries to ensure a positive and fun player experience. This methodology is highly inspired from ideas presented by Paul Tozour and discussions I’ve had with other game developers. There is a wide range of material available that describe varying processes across the industry centered on designing "the fun" in gameplay. At times these techniques tend to be inconsistent or rely heavily on subjective feedback. We also sometimes find ourselves using other games to drive our design decision making. While this is an important part of game design, it is not the only way to drive ideas forward. We can and should think about what our intended gameplay could be rather than possibly limiting ourselves to previously established ideas. The proposed approach focuses on the player as a key gameplay ingredient in defining the rule-sets that then drive the design of the AI and world. This design process forces you to think about the player up front which ends up being player-centric and has a wide range of benefits. With that in mind, an apt name for this design methodology is player centric design

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The Missing Ingredient: Trust

Making games is hard enough. Making games with people you don't trust sounds impossible. I've been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented developers that believed this same philosophy. It's like in any relationship - when you trust each other, you challenge and push each other to create, craft and develop. I think what I appreciate the most about building a trust focused environment is the amount of learning that happens. Trust doesn't just come for free, it needs to be developed within a team. Here's a a semi-rant during the 2016 GDC Animation Microtalks where I talked about building trust between programmers/designers and animators in helping to create the best gameplay experiences possible. The rest of the microtalks are also really awesome and worth checking out!