Gamedesign Checklist

Gamedesign for dummies. A simple, growing list of flaws you could easily avoid (but for some reason keep repeating them).

-Controls (FPS/Consoles)

Please be so kind and add freely configureable controls. This includes sticks, not only buttons! In general there is absolutely no reason not to do it, after spending 2+ years on your shiney AAA title you can certainly afford one or two extradays for one coder and one artist.

If -for some unknown reason- you feel the urge to do presets instead of a free config, make sure to offer options for all kinds of players. Some like southpaw, some like southpaw with flipped triggers for aiming and shooting, some want to have looking and moving mixed onto one single stick. By the way, southpaw is not only for lefthanded people. Early controllers had only one stick on the left side, thus many players are just used to it.

If you want to sell your game, the first step should be to make sure everyone can play it. Alienating half of your customers isn`t clever, still I find this being an issue with about every 2nd shooter out there.

-Unique selling point -so what?

The established formula for many starting gameproductions seems to be: Invent your USP, no matter how useless it may be, and then build some generic crap around it. Should anyone ask what is so great about your game you can always say “timemanipulation”, “terraforming”, “all levels are upside down” …

Ok, there`s nothing wrong with USP`s, but dont rest on it. A solid game with tight gameplay and/or good design will always beat the USP.  If you put your great unique feature into utterly boring games noone will care.


Another thing you would think it`s quite simple, but still many games screw up there.

In my opinion it should do these things right:

-Avoid forcing players to replay lengthy sections of the game. I consider everything above 15 minutes as lengthy.

-Spare players the effort to think about saving while playing. This means just throwing in a save-anytime feature isn`t enough. It needs to be backed up by checkpointsaving.

-Not distract from actual gameplay.  A fast paced actiongame shouldn`t ask players to spend 15 minutes traveling to their bedroom, just because the designer thought it would feel so very realistic to save at your hideout.

There are certainly special cases where said rules don`t apply, but they are rare.  You should doublecheck if your game`s requirements are really special enough to take a different approach.

I`d like to add that in my opinion realism is hardly a good argument for bothering players.