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Will Wright’s Master Class


Just taking some notes while I watch it

1 Fundamentals: Learn stuff from other fields that you can pull in to game design.  That’s how Will Wright got ideas like Sim City, The Sims, and Spore.

Learn by doing – come up with a small game idea, make a small game (or prototype), play test it, iterate.  Make lots of small games.

Understand the actual constraints so you can make something outside the box.

Non-zero games – let the player define their own objectives within the simulation; open ended toys Sim City, The Sims, Spore.

Expand player creativity – people start to think of their game experience as an extension of themself (like driving a car).

2 Generating Game Concepts: He learns things he’s interested in then gets game ideas from it.  Reading books about city planning (Sim City), ant research (Sim Ant), Sim Earth.  How to make these things more accessible (like a toy).  Inspiration varies by designer.

Instead of looking at other games for inspiration, he likes to look at things in the real world and imagine making it into a game.  Spore game idea from Powers of Ten (1977) in terms of life at different scales.

Instincts – if he starts working on a game idea he thinks he’s cool, he trusts his instincts.  Starts by designing for himself (what he thinks is cool) because it’s hard to design for someone else.

3 Prototype: as soon as he gets an idea for a game.  Early prototype should answer questions as cheaply as possible (eg what kind of camera, controls, etc).  Later development becomes can someone learn how to use the interface, how engaging is it to players.  Do variations to playtest and get feedback.

Tangible try to make things feel tangible.

To learn prototyping.  Find some system you can program.  Imagine a simple interactive experience and create it.  Do that a few times.  Then try different things to get a sense of where to take it next.

4 Story: Some games are a medium for story tellers, though Will likes stories that come from the players.

Besides senses, we can also learn about the world via play and story.

Emotions in film is based on empathy.  Emotions in games is based on agency – guilt, pride, accomplishment, teamwork.

5 Psychology: The Sims used Maslow’s Pyramid (maps of the mind).

Players like to feel center of the game universe.

Build a mental model in your player’s head.

6 Player Centered Experiences: enable flow by putting player on the edge of their ability; give player ways to adjust difficulty

Ramp up complexity gradually for player to build mental model.

Let the player learn through trying things that succeed or fail.  Game loops can be different time scales and area of focus.

Build a smooth complexity ramp.  Create a landscape with different paths.  Make parameters you can tweak in playtesting.

Design to allow for player discovery.

7 Develop a Game Language:

TODO more notes

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