Create Fun Action Games: Tips Game Designer Of Call Of Duty And The Last Of Us

My main occupation is game designer and skripter, I work with the gameplay and systems. I started my career in the call center in Illinois on a system TurboGrafx 16 from NEC (in the days before the ubiquitous Internet). It was something like a hotline through which clients can request cheat codes or any other help.

Our company is also engaged in QA testing of not yet released games. As a developer for the first time, I had to work in the Studio 2015. The biggest game, in which we had the opportunity to participate, was the Medal of Honor. Allied Assault for PC, and I personally created a level with a landing on Omaha beach. I then moved to Ritual Entertainment and worked on Star Trek.

Elite Force 2 for PC. Then there was EA Los Angeles, where I had a hand in the creation of several games in the series Medal of Honor (Pacific Assault, European Assault and Airborne). Then I first got acquainted with development under the console. Then, for the longest time, worked at Naughty Dog over all the Uncharted games in the series (except the PSP) as well as about The Last Of Us Left Behind. And now the path led me into Infinity Ward.

I develop Call of Duty. Infinite Warfare, the output of which is scheduled for November. Different companies define them differently, and in some studios, the designers divided between different tasks. In General, we can say that the designer is responsible for ensuring that the game was fun.

He is working on gameplay mechanics and developing a system and then corrects them and curls. In fact, the game designers recently shared their duties between the designers of the General scheme (more focused on the study of the elements of the game world and the relationship of these elements with the gameplay) and scripters (they mainly work with logic and high-level code gameplay). In some studios it can be different people, in others the same man. In General, responsibilities can be distributed a little differently. Depending on the genre and style of games you may experience and further specialization (designer battle, the designer of the melee, the designer of puzzles, and so on).

But whatever the game designer is always the cement that tries to bond all the elements together. In addition, it needs to gather feedback, observe the testing and to constantly work on the gameplay, making it better and better. If you decide to become a game designer, try to grow a thick skin, because you will pour out negative and positive emotions that occur in a person sat down to play in the project your Studio. Inspiration and new ideas for gameplay can come from anywhere.

Maybe youll watch a movie and some scene will make you want to come up with the mechanics on its basis. But personally I have found that best results are obtained if the designer regularly reviews and improves existing ideas. A good feature of the designer is the ability to analyze and criticize what he plays. It needs to reflect on their feelings, try to get to the root, to understand why they he had.

Of course, define fun and interesting mechanics easily, but much more difficult to understand why it seems such. You can just say “Yeah, thats cool” and move on, but you have to examine your feelings, try to find flaws in mechanics, something that makes this element of gameplay a little less fun. Try to unravel the tangle, locate faults and analyze them, and then you realize that you need to do to improve it.

Do not be afraid constantly and, most importantly, to quickly create a new version of the prototypes. Try different ideas. This is another way to find a gold mine. It is very easy to step into the trap of endless verbal analysis and theoretical disputes, but the result will be much better if you will take the time and check the mechanics, in fact, right in the game.

You will not be able to understand precisely whether some idea, while personally not touch. In addition, you may have new thoughts, which then lead to the birth of a new mechanic or evolution of existing ones. Constantly test the game and try to improve each element. Just continue to catch good ideas and those elements that work best, and study them using all possible time and resources.

But do not forget about other parts of the project. Pay attention to the style of the game, and only based on the style, start thinking about how to felt the shooting (of course, the fun is always most important). There is a difference between a fast, relying on reflexes, shooter like Doom and slow game, which is to think through each step, like Metal Gear Solid. But the context in which events occur.

For example, the design of the weapons and gameplay in Overwatch can be as crazy and illogical, but in The Last Of Us — no longer exists. The important role played by the overall feel of the game, her idea, and what you want to convey to the developers. When creating The Last Of Us ” we wanted to make the player feel every shot that he knew how much pain it might cause weapons. We strengthened in the players the idea that they are in the harsh cruel world, where every shot counts.

It is important to note that when talking about the mechanics of shooting, you need to talk not only about weapons and equipment of the character, but also on third-party systems, which will these weapons interact. You need to pay attention not only to manage, but the sound effects from bullets, animations opponents. The player gets the fun of firing only when all along implemented correctly. The vibration of the controller, the flash from the gun, sounds, animations, weapons, traces of bullets in the air, the reaction of the surrounding objects in the shots, the death animation of enemies.

As for the design of each specific battle, then I recommend to use the philosophy of game developers Bruce Starli. We successfully applied it during my work at Naughty Dog. We understand that battles are much more interesting if you force the player to think, assess the situation and react to it. What causes the character to move.

Maybe the enemies threw a grenade into the shelter or began to surround. And maybe his side is moving something very slow and dangerous, for example, tank. Or exploding a barrel. What if all of a sudden the building started to crumble. We wanted the player used his own brain.

So he thought over every battle as though on the solution to the puzzle. Also try to have each battle was tied to ingame events and evoked the desired emotions. For example, if in the story the main character is in absolute desperate battle, in which he has to participate should call the player the same feeling.

Let the character will be surrounded, he starts to lose, and he will have to run and hide. You have so many options. Let the battle takes place at night in the rain in the dark, and then the player will definitely feel the sinister and oppressive atmosphere. And even better work, if the surrounding space will somehow influence the course of a firefight.

A very important variation. No matter how fun and exciting it turned out any enemy, if the player has to meet him again and again and again. You just have to make the game diverse. Here are a few examples of this diversity.

Battle with opponents of a certain type (e.g., snipers); a kind of unique location, which affects the course of the battle (the narrow hallway; large open space; fighting in the dark or fog; battle near something dangerous, for example, fire); an unusual situation (the shootout in a moving train or in a car chase); the battle in which the player can only use certain weapons (e.g. a sniper rifle or rocket launcher). First, I always try to appreciate the mechanics in the head. Then start to think about what to add and what to remove. How to make the mechanics more complicated that the player had to try. How to improve it.

How to make it more fun and interesting. How to improve its synergy with other elements of the game. How it will interact with other systems and mechanics?. Gradually we answered these questions and created the first prototypes, and then developed on the basis of their gameplay cycle. Competent and high-quality cycle will force the player to take the game further, especially if the developer will try to unleash the full potential created by it mechanic.

Constantly test and improve its gameplay. You might want to add to the game more arcade elements and achievements. This is also a good method, but remember that, ideally, none of the mechanics should not destroy the overall picture and atmosphere. For example, with games like The Last Of Us where the atmosphere plays almost the main role, you need to be very careful. But if you develop a quick and fun arcade shooter, nothing prevents you to add an achievement like “kill X enemies with Y”.

And the players are happy to do it. Test and improve. Invite different people to try out the game and watch them (dont say anything and dont give me ideas). If you are testing a game element or mechanics, try to approach them with the same side from which they approached would a new player and not an experienced designer, which chugs over the mechanics for a week.

I dont remember how many times something that seemed simple and obvious, very much confused the tester.

Leave a Reply