[Becoming a Game Designer] From Seconds to Hours of Gameplay

The video teaches you how to create a game from the ground up based on a single mechanic. Mechanic is defined (in the video) as a small, atomic action in response to something in a game. It could be jumping, running or something similar.

The mechanic that was chosen as the core mechanic was clicking on a star. Though this mechanic is a good one to start with and many games work based upon the simple mechanic of clicking, the experience of the game could only last a second based on this one mechanic.

In order to increase the game’s play time, a second layer was added that made the star move to a different location when clicked. This was a small addition which made the game a little more interesting. However, the game still only provided a few seconds of playability before it started to get boring.

A timer was added as a third layer. Time would count down each time the player clicked on a star. The intention of this mechanic was to make the player wonder “What happens when the counter gets to zero?”

A push back that was put into the game was the fading of the stars with the passing of time. If the player didn’t click the star fast enough, it disappeared. This made clicking on the stars a bit more interesting as you had to click on them to avoid having them disappear and consequently make you lose the game.

Multiple stars were added as a fourth layer. Instead of having only a single start to click, the player now has to race the clock to click numerous stars before they fade.

Finally, a score was included in the fifth layer. Adding a score motivate players to play more than once in order to beat their own or someone else’s score. In my experience, I’ve found this usually to be true. Another element that was added to the fifth layer was a sun which restores the stars. As the stars fade away, the player can click on the sun to get them back to their initial state. This is especially helpful when there are many stars to click on and they’re almost fading away.

From this example, we can see that it’s possible to start with a simple mechanic and add layers to extend the play time of the game. All you need to do is consider the basic mechanic and try to get the player to repeat it. If one of your layers seems boring, you can simply add more things to that particular layer to increase the level of interest.

This method for developing games is effective because you begin with one simple concept and, if the game is boring or too short, you can remedy it easily by adding layers. When you’re creating a game, it is much harder to solve any problems you come across if you take an existing system from a complex game as your starting point. You can take the system apart to identify the different components which compose the system and maybe use some of those elements to build your own game. However, it is best to build your game from the ground up because you know all of the parts which make up your game and when you need to solve a problem it’ll be much easier to pinpoint where the problem is.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend it that you do so because the information on the video is well explained and the visuals are interesting.

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