Game Design Basics (top)

Official Walkthrough: This document exists to provide a bit more of a linear approach to class. Do this, then this, then this. Hopefully you find it helpful. If not, you can still use the class website.

First Quest: Addison Joins the League

This is what you should have done in class as a seventh grader. It is here for people who moved here in eighth grade or missed our Game Design Unit. If you've already completed
the Quest, Addison Joins the League, then move on to the Second Quest below.
  1. Sign up for Gamestar Mechanic & write down your password!addisonjoins.PNGPlay Episode 1 of the Quest, Addison Joins the League.
    • Note: Gamestar Mechanic occasionally works better in Internet Explorer (I just threw up in my mouth).

  2. Post which game in Episode 1 (Naviron Adventure / Altair Journey / Acheron Gauntlet / Kakuri Mindbender) was your favorite to Edmodo & why.
  3. Play Episode 2 of the Quest, Addison Joins the League.

Introducing The 5 Elements of Game design

  1. If you've been ignoring the introductory comics up to this point, make sure you read them on the next 2 episodes. You will use the information! This is a test.
  2. Play through Episodes 3 and 4 of Gamestar Mechanic's introductory quest, "Addison joins the league".

Introducing Balance (or Flow)

  1. Watch the Introduction to Episode 5. Read the comics about balancing.
  2. Play through Episode 5. The last mission in Episode is a build mission. Here you have the opportunity to make a game for the first time. Think about the concept of a balanced game as you create your first game.

Introducing Iteration & Feedback

  1. Play each other’s games once they are created and give feedback. Answer these questions in your MyBigCampus reply: Copy / paste your feedback to the comments or review section of the game in Game Alley.
    • Is the game balanced?
    • Is it fun?
    • If it is not balanced, tell which of the 5 elements could be changed to balance the game.

Second Quest: Apprenticeship Badge


Apprentice (n.) - someone who is starting on a pathway of learning a skill
  1. Go to the Game Design Apprentice Badge
  2. Complete the requirements for your badge... You may want to do some bonus activities below while working to mix things up and have some fun.

Third Quest: Balance & The 5 Elements

In the introductory comics of Episode 3, Jhansi introduces us to the 5 elements.
  • Mechanics - What do you do in the game?” (collecting, shooting, throwing, solving)
  • Goals - “How do you win the game?”
  • Rules - “What limitations have you given players to make it more challenging?"
  • Space - The game's setting, environment, physics, etc.
  • Components - “What do you use to play the game?” (coins, dice, rubber bands, etc.)

Components: Expanding your bag of tricks...

  1. Go to your Workshop in Gamestar Mechanicexternal image fater_p_platformshoot.png?height=40&width=40
  2. Scroll down to Challenges and Contests. - Most of these will give you additional Sprites and backgrounds to work with.
    • Note: some require you to play & make a game.
  3. Complete a challenge or three...

Bonus Mission! Components, Goals, & Rules

  1. Go to Gamekit and look at Warm Up 1: Find Play in Things. Be sure to expand the "Dive Deeper" section.
  2. Develop a Game / play scenario using any of the following components:Once you’ve found an interesting interaction give it a goal. The goal gives the player something to strive for and directs their actions.
    • Office Supplies - Rubber bands (3), Paperclips, a Ruler, post-it notes, index cards.gamekitgamekit.JPG
    • Random items: Pennies (3), Small cups (3), assorted snap-together counting blocks (4)
    • Game items: Dice (2), Game pieces (3)
  3. Once you have a goal, you’ll need to create rules that structure and limit player actions (For example: Golf has the goal - put ball in hole. There are rules, like Stand far away & You must hit ball with these expensive little clubs...).
  4. Post your idea to your blog, being sure to list your Goals, Rules, & Components.

Collaborative game building

  1. Find a partner who has also done the above activity.
  2. Grab a gamekit from the table & a camera (your smartphone will do fine).
  3. Explain your games and play each other's games. Take Pictures!
  4. Now, develop a game together, using the kit.
  5. Be sure to list your Goals, Rules, & Components.
  6. Playtest it. Take Pictures!
  7. Go blog about this with pictures.

Space and the Game Space Challenge

Game space is the environment in which the play of a game takes place. Decisions about its features— how it handles gravity, whether it scrolls, the way its visual and audio design expresses an idea—are central to the game designer’s craft.
  1. Replay the following games... Do it now! (link to the quest)
    • Security System Space, Episode 3 - Mission 3
    • Space Repair, Episode 3 - Mission 4
    • Stabilized Space, Episode 5 - Mission 3
    • Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 7.53.04 PM.png
  2. Go to Gamekit and visit Design a Playspace. Be sure to expand & read the "Dive Deeper" section.
  3. Activate the Gamekit Play Space Challenge.

After Participating in the challenge, develop your own game. You may submit it as part of the challenge or simply create it in the workshop.
    • Start by designing a top-down game modeled on a setting of your choice. For example:
      • Racetrack
      • Garden
      • Outer Space
      • Fortress
    • Now add onto that space by creating a level that platforms. Continue the original setting but in a new way.

Core Mechanics & Balance

Balance through levels with a core mechanic.

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Core mechanics are the center of the play experience and represent the fundamental action through which the play interacts with the game. In fact, Nintendo’s Miyamoto Shigeru is famous for designing all his games around verbs, which are good at describing this interaction.

Balance through levels with a core mechanic.
  1. Choose a verb from this list and create a game based around this verb:
    • Avoid
    • Jump
    • Shoot
    • Explore
    • Achieve
    • Acquire
    • Run
    • Search
    • Solve
  2. Now develop a game in which balance (flow) is developed by increasing challenge each level as players master your core mechanic.
  3. Post your game to MyBigCampus and request feedback.

Bonus: Rising to the Challenge

You have been challenged to develop a game.

  1. Choose a Challenge Card and make a game with it.
  2. Log in to Gamestar Mechanic and go to the Workshop. Here you can start designing your game based on the challenge card.
    1. Make sure the 5 elements of game design (rules, goals, space, components, & mechanics) support the core goal of the card.
    2. Maintain Balance! Remember: Easy to Learn & Difficult to MasterMake your levels build in complexity / intensity
    3. Maintain the same theme / central mechanic throughout, much like the games from various schools in the first episode.
  3. Post to Edmodo & play each other’s games.
  4. Finished early? Feeling unchallenged? Get another Challenge Card from Mr. Walters and repeat!

Super Bonus: Epic Tale or Epic Fail: Challenge, opposition, & emotion in games.

You've learned about how games use goals, rules, mechanics, components, and space in a balanced way to create flow. As a designer, though, you have one more trick to suck players in. Put your creative writing hat on because I'm talking about story.
external image image.jpg
  • At minimum, you will need:
    • A unifying story (you can unfold this tale in your game and level intro and win messages... yes, I mean write it out).
    • 4 levels
      • Each level increases in challenge and complexity.
      • Each level builds on the unifying theme of the story.
      • Each level has finishing touches, like background & soundtrack.

  • You may also want to include (hint hint... to increase epic awesomeness):
    • A boss or two (Just beef up a sprite with the wrench tool)
    • Text message blocks to help unfold the story (get these from the message box challenge)
    • One or more levels that have an epic scope (aka: Multiple Screen Scrolling)
    • Create a level with more than one route / strategy to win.

  • Avoiding an Epic Fail:
    • Maintain balance - Do not make your game impossible to win. Alternately, do not make it so easy that it’s a joke. (Remember: easy to learn & difficult to master).
    • Tell the story with the 5 Elements - Don’t lose your players by telling a story in cut screens that has nothing to do with the game they’re actually playing. Try to fit your space, components, mechanics, goals, & rules to your story or your story to your space, components, mechanics, goals, & rules.
    • Post to the Game design group in Edmodo.