Game Lecture by Nicklas Nygren

In this lecture Nicklas Nygren talks about his experience in the field of game development. He’s an independent game developer who’s created a few small games, some which are known for being simple and atmospheric.

Nicklas starts the lecture out by showing some of his background which consists of many failures, some which are even very common among aspiring game designers and developers. Failure can feel very bad but it is very good as it can be the experiences where you learn the most.

He sets out a few rules that game designers should follow. The first one is that your game is probably much harder to make than you think. As you’re testing a game that you’ve created, you might feel as if the game is easy and that it should be harder. One thing that Nicklas found out is that because you already know the design of the game, it can be easier for you. The trick that he used to fix this problem is to simply name the difficulty one step harder than he thought it was for him. That way, if he felt that the game was easy he would just name it normal or if he felt that the game was normal he would just name it hard.

The second rule is to do instead of plan. This is what he learned from spending too much time planning games which in the end were too hard for him to finish and gave up on the project. Nicklas talks about a point system he created to help him get work done. The point system is that he gains one point for one room in the game, two points for a sprite or a sound effect and eight points for a complete piece of music. His goal is to earn ten points every day.

Most of his work is improvised, meaning that he doesn’t know what he’ll do the next day. For this to be to able to happen, Nicklas created a system where he plans 3 blocks for the game that will help him not make any terrible mistakes with the game and allow him to develop the game as he wishes.

The first block is to set up a prototype of the game with all the features that he needs. The graphics in the prototype are just squares and rectangles.

The second block is to define the art and audio aspects of the game. For the art aspect he defines the color pallets, creates a few rules about how the art should or shouldn’t be, sets up backgrounds, creates a few example sprites, or anything else that’s needed. For the music aspect he decides what kind of music the game should have and what atmosphere is generally wanted.

The third and last block is defining logic rules. One example he uses is that if the player has access to all areas, he might end up in the bottom of a pit where he can’t jump out of. For this reason, he sets up these logic rules to avoid creating levels or mechanics that will get the player stuck in the game.

For the rest of the lecture, Nicklas mostly talks about the development of his game Saira. The approach that he took of taking as many pictures and recording as many sounds as he could and then implementing in the game was very interesting.

During the lecture Nicklas talks about many useful techniques, many of them about how to better organize your projects in a way that you’ll actually finish them. Speaking about the importance of having a time of failure in your life can be very motivational. It is a great lecture and if you haven’t already, it is really recommend that you watch it.

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