Qualification - Higher National Diploma in Computing (RQF)
Unit Name - Games Design Theory
Unit Number - Unit 32
Unit level - Level 5
Unit reference number - T/615/1673
Unit Credit - 15
Assignment Title - User Interface and Experience
Learning Outcome 1: Critically assess the types, practices, principles and skills used in the design of games.
Learning Outcome 2: Analyse the concepts and elements required for the production of a Games Design Document.
Learning Outcome 3: Evaluate the game design process with regards to game development and production.
Learning Outcome 4: Use game design practices and principles to create an original Game Design Document and present a High Concept pitch.
You are employed as a Gaming Designer for a small company called UK Games Development Consortium (UKGDC) based in Bolton. Your firm has been commissioned to come up with a design for "The next big title". As the companies Games Designer you are required to plan and research in a form of a report. The intended audience for your Game needs to be one that could bring in the most revenue. The board of directors would like you to prepare and present your Games Design Document and High Concept pitch. Feedback from this presentation would need to be documented.
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Activity one -Types, practices, principles and skills used in the design of games
In the form of a report,.Identify what game design is and explore the evolution of games over time. Research and assess game types, trends, player features, control and technology. Identify the role of a Games designer and introduce concepts related to the game design process. Discuss idea generation, world design, storytelling, characters, levels, game play, assets and asset management.
1. Games design
Game design represents the art of creating design and achieving aesthetics to enhance user experience. A game is created for various reasons like educational, entertainment, and experimental (Bethke, 2003). Each game is designed with a goal and a set of rules that promote interactions and enable the audience to reach the goal. The concept of game designing has rapidly changed over the years after board and card games were replaced by video and war games that involved roles.
2. Explore the evolution of games over time? Impact on video game design and complexity.
Games have evolved from console forms to video-based that changed user interactions and also involved advanced technologies. According to Epstein (2015), about 59% of Americans have participated in video games in the year 2013.
Nintendo was founded during 1889 to build games. By 1952, a computer game named tic-tac-toe was introduced. The graphics was limited in terms of colors, motion, and speed. After computer programming language was used by game designers in 1964, new video games were created with basic codes.
By 1971, the concept of simulation started through graphics as arcade games entered the market (Epstein, 2015). After a year, designers created Odyssey which is a video game that can be plugged to television. Graphics enhanced further. During 1980s, games focused on interactions and sold games with attractive graphics. The graphical element of games achieved a new version during 1990s when war based games and playstations were introduced.
The speed at which games evolved is exciting. On the other hand, the need for speed also increased over a period as board games created boredom and people wanted fast games to keep them engaged. Video games that were packaged by Nintendo also resulted in boredom at some point due to monotonous interface and predictable results.
During 1990s, war games and racing games began and these prioritized speed which improved the time spent by the user towards the game design(Epstein, 2015). The pace rapidly changed during 2000s with the introduction of Xbox and playstations that had a range of speed games and options to meet the interests and needs of users.
Initially, the game design had a goal like clearing blocks or catching snakes. Subsequently, Simcity included gameplay that was based on urban design and it had a story. It also allowed users to applied creativity to enrich the storyboard. When cartoons were replicated in the form of stories with flagship character like Sonic the Hedgehog, it developed engagement of children. However, war games had goals and stories. Going forward, virtual reality games have arrived for people to stay tuned with the game design and overcome complexity.
2.4. Online gaming
Online gaming is a recently evolved trend after playstations and multiple player options developed. Until 1990s, games were either on a separate device or integrated with television or computer to engage users(Epstein, 2015). These were working on simpler concepts. With multiple players and new interfaces in picture, online game has now become the most preferred format. It has become unpredictable as well.
3. Game types, trends, player features, control and technology
3.1. Super Mario and mortal combat
Super Mario is a platform game introduced by Nintendo centralizing a mascot named Mario. The game includes multiple adventures that Mario will have to cross and tackle enemies to rescue the princess Peach from Bowser (the antagonist). Mortal Kombat is another video game that features Jear-Claude Van Damme (McGlaun, 2014). This is a fantasy based fighting game where the user defeats opponent to reach the goal. Both games have had a face off due to the wide customer base and mashup action evident in both games.
The game world has seen significant changes in user expectation and the interface through which games are covered. Super Mario appeared to be a traditional game but this has been taken over by Mortal Kombat and several other games that are realistic and influence the minds of the players.
3.3. Player features
Games are loaded with audiovisual effects that replicate reality and also dwell players in game mechanics. Player features in these games are engaging and inventory items are loaded with essential materials.
3.4. Game types
Each game mentioned above has multiple levels and new elements to improve user experiences (Bethke, 2003). In addition to integrated game interfaces, there are online game formats introduced for multiplayer possibilities.
4. Role of a game designer
A game designer is responsible to design usability and responsiveness of interface. On the other hand, the animator takes care of controls and animations to improve impact of features. Audio engineer takes care of sounds and programmer integrates various features to complete the game development (Oxland, 2004). An artist prepares the storyline and presents in visual format. This resource works with director closely to plan the movement of game.
5. Game design process
The game design process begins with creation of a storyboard. Other stakeholders of the game participate in feedback session prior to creating a prototype. The next step is to prepare a design document that will include roles and responsibilities of each resource in different stages of game design. The game director ensures high concept quality to stay ahead of competition.
6. Discuss idea generation
Idea generation for a game typically begins with the assessment of market trends and brainstorming of ideas. One idea is chosen and then a story is developed(Oxland, 2004). This storyline will include characters, components like music, weapons, and other systems required to complete this game. The game prototype is created after the idea generated is converted into an official document comprising of design elements, characters, levels, modes, and assets.
In this process, the idea generation is tested and re-tested to ensure that it stays as per market standards and is also unique.
7. Skills required design a video game
Designing a video game prioritizes aesthetic sense and creativity of the person. The resource needs to have an inbuilt passion towards video games and should possess storytelling capacity. The involvement of a video game designer extends during programming and deployment stages as well. Hence, the person needs to have a fair knowledge on game analytics, programming, and market needs.
Activity two - Concepts and elements required for the production of a Games Design Document
Continue your report by reviewing different Game Design Documents and identify common and shared factors. Examine the purpose of the Game Design Document and identify the stakeholders and their possible expectations. Debate the content, depth and quality of information expected in a Games Design Document. Explain the strengths and possible weaknesses of a Games Design Document.
1. Game design document - Common and shared factors
The purpose of a game design document is to provide an overview of the game and allow the reader to visualize the actual interface. Common factors of game design document include story, characters, levels, art, sound elements, gameplay, game controls, and accessibility(Jasmine, 2019). While presenting the design document to an investor, it should also include monetization factor and this is a shared factor.
A detailed evaluation of various game design documents has also presented new topics like training level, game options, constraints, technical specification, and workable schedule. Some design documents also discussed game aesthetics and control schemes to improve clarity.
2. Ideal format for a game design document
A game design document is developed during pre-production stage and is shared between resources. The format of this document needs to have concept outlines in a detailed manner to cover each game aspect(Jasmine, 2019). Major factors of this document include gameplay, technical elements, level design, graphics, sound, and schedule.
The game design overview will include gameplay and the plan of the game development team. Subsequently, the technical section will include list of screens, game controls, and mechanics of the game. The theme of the game is vital to decide user engagement and also pull the scope for investment during a pitch. Details about ambience of theme and objects involved are presented at each level of the game. Sounds and music elements are meant to improve style attributes of the game and fulfil the needs of the users.
3. Purpose of the Game Design Document
The gaming industry is becoming competitive and there is a growing need to develop reward based systems to drive user engagement further. Developing a game design document helps in documenting the idea and this will eliminate malfunctions in code. The purpose of a game design document is to connect various aspects of game through text, graphs, and list. This will also eliminate cognitive clashes in developing the game. Further, this helps programmer in deciding game loops(Jasmine, 2019). The game director also thinks the game from a business perspective.
4. Stakeholders of a game and expectations
A game includes internal stakeholders like designers, marketers, and developers. There are external stakeholders including gamers, researchers, media, and distributors.
Every stakeholder has various expectations from the game. The response and support provided by the stakeholder are indicators to evaluate fulfilment of expectations(Jasmine, 2019). Media will prioritize and feature a game when it has made news for positive or negative reasons. However, internal stakeholders expect success of a game to ensure it fetches income to them. On the other hand, gamers expect engaging interface and regular update of the game level. They expect innovation and their times spent in playing a game can be used as indicators. Distributors expect financial success of the game to take it to new horizons.
5. Content, depth and quality of information expected in a Games Design Document
A game design document should be as specific as possible. The content needs to include market trends and how this game can fulfil the trends from operational and financial aspects (Jasmine, 2019). It has to make a comparative study and also include a history of similar games in the past. Financial projections are also expected in the game design document to seek acceptance from the investor.
6. Strengths and possible weaknesses of a Games Design Document.
The primary strength of a game design document is the ability to organize ideas and allow every stakeholder to stay focused in achieving the goal. The other strength is the feasibility to pitch the idea to an investor and also use it as a marketing material (Schell, 2008).
There are also weaknesses associated with a game design document. Communicating the information through the document might not be feasible for everyone. Some might lack communication and persuasion skills. The other weakness of the document is the inability to change certain features at a later time due to operational or financial constraints.
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Activity three - Evaluate the game design process
Continue with your report and create an illustrated guide explaining your video game design, development and production processes. Debate the value of the concept stage. Investigate design tools and explore issues related to the planning and design stage. Discuss testing methods and introduce the purpose of Quality Assurance (QA) and business and monetisation models.
1. Create an illustrated guide explaining the video game design.
The video game proposed is next big thing which is a mobile racing game. This car racing game can be played using mobile phone and it allows users to experience simulation. The initial screen meant for this game is as follows.
Source - Yalanska& Shevchenko (2019)
This picture has three major screens that every user has to experience in playing the game. The user can choose the type of fuel and start the car. There are also options in choosing the car color and type. The other screen indicates the option to challenge friends by inviting them to the interface. This will add up the points. Another video game design user interface is presented below for the same game.
This shows the scope to play the game online and offline. With the reward system, the meta-design of the game is engagement-driven.
2. Development and production processes in game design.
The video game begins with designing and developing proposal document. However, during the development stage, several aspects like concept, feature list, story setting, audience, schedule, budget, and staff estimates are covered. The development team includes designer, programmer, artist, sound engineer, level designer, and tester.
These stakeholders prepare pitch and concept for the game and then create a prototype after the approval of game design document (Schell, 2008). During the production of the game, the design is converted to reality. Programming each step in the storyboard is carried out and levels are created to provide clarity to the game. During the completion stage of production, other elements like art and audio are included to give a complete effect. The last stage of production is testing and this is carried out before selling the game to the market.
3. Evidence based comparison between ‘AAA' and ‘Indie'.
Lowry (2017) has presented several differences between indie and AAA video games. Indie titles are shorter and focus on stylized art direction. Further, indie developers depend on bootstrapping to meet development needs. However, AAA games are quite expensive and are developed by professional studios. One example of AAA is call of duty which demonstrated grandeur and also worked on a huge budget. Contrarily, games like Celeste and Minecraft had simple story elements and were worked by individual developers who invested passion and money.
4. (Independent) budget allocation and development timelines.
The budgeting works as follows (Ahearn, 2020).
Role Number of hours Cost per hour Total
Lead programmer 100 35 3500
Producer 50 30 1500
Designer 60 30 1800
Animator 60 35 2100
Business management 70 35 2450
Music 40 35 1400
The sequence of tasks associated with the development process of the game is presented below.
Source - Slideshare
There are three major milestones in the timeline - concept, development, production, and distribution. These milestones influence the output of the game and also audience impact.
5. Game Testing methods and Games design Tools
The game will be designed with Photoshop and Blender. As it is a mobile game, ARM will also be used to draft interface. The engine on which the game will work is Unity and this is an easy to use platform allowing users to explore with as many features as possible. However, game testing process is vital to ensure that the design leaves a positive impact on the results achieved. The process is presented below.
Source - PIT Solutions AG
Separating various activities into units and testing them individually will provide individual results. Later, results are integrated to expose to integration and regression testing methods.
6. Compare different business and monetisation models used with games production and distribution.
Business models include engine-based, distribution-based, design-based, and value-based. Value driven business models tend to sustain longer in the market. Further, game developers offer a range of services including recurring revenue model, multi-platform model, player-specific model, and lifetime value model. These have replaced cyclical business model, console focused model, developer centric, and unit based sales model.
7. Analyse different game distribution channels and marketing methods used in games production.
Video games can make use of distribution channels like AppStore, Facebook, Google Play, online games, and market downloads. Physical retail in the game market has significantly reduced in the last few decades after online gaming took over the market. The game needs to be marketed to content aggregator, device manufacturer, and regional stores by introducing bundles and free to play option.
8. Issues related to games design
Some of the issues associated with game design are differences in perceptions, player motivation, type of actions, strategies, and pay-offs. Ethics is also another issue in designing a game that fits various needs of the users. With a range of genres available, it is tough for a designer to stay unique and ensure that the desired genre is fulfilled by means of design.
Activity four - Use game design practices and principles to create an original Game Design Document
Create an original game concept and give appropriate and constructive feedback to others.Peer-review and evaluate feedback on a number of your game ideas to justify the selection of a specific game idea. Produce and quality check a Game Design Document and High Concept presentation based on your selected concept. Present and defend your High Concept pitch.
1. Research a range of game ideas.
At the first instance, there are several game ideas like wordbuilder, rebuilding and redesigning old games to give a new look, living memories which will include audio logs and environmental storytelling. Games can also be niche-based such as Earth observation, book game, and environmental based game that builds skills.
2. Create a game concept.
The concept of the game is to allow users to create a rural village as per their wish and they will be provided with an inventory of materials.
3. Create a game document.
Story - User builds new homes and creates a village with available materials.
Characters - User is allowed to include up to 5 characters at the first level.
Level - There are three levels. Beginner level will include constructing a house and 5 characters. Intermediate level will include creating a water resource, including animals, and agriculture. Advanced level will allow inclusion of up to 5 more characters.
Art - The art will be minimalistic.
Sound and music - Sound throughout the game will be slow-paced.
Monetization - This is meant for kids to develop their sustainability skills with available resources. Hence, this can be distributed through Google Play and Apple store.
4. Create a High Concept presentation.
The game is based on survival skills Youtube channels where participants use limited resources to create an eco-friendly space around.
It is a single-player game.
The game allows participant to explore with resources and also presents models to replicate in the village.
5. Present your High Concept presentation.
Villagia is the title of the game.
Description - User chooses elements and creates a village and upgrades at each level.
Features - replicating the model, exploring with existing resources, learning survival skills
Genre - Single player, informative
6. Peer-review and evaluate feedback.
About 10 kids will be randomly selected to reflect on this game idea to find if they are interested. Further, the game development team will also reflect on feasibility and competitiveness of this game. A feedback form is presented to the experts associated with the game to reflect on sound, game play, concept, and visuals. Stakeholder satisfaction is collected at the first level and this will typically include random kids, parents, game development team, and testers.
Fulfillment of goals and financial accomplishment are used as factors to evaluate the success of this game. Other game based factors include playability, quality, and game usability assessment by collecting feedback from expert (Schell, 2008). On the other hand, users will also receive pop ups to present feedback about their experiences. This is carried out in an aim to engage and improve features of the game.