Let me just take a break from working on this metal musical piece for Viking children’s charity... or something. Anyways, I’m Gellert Keresztes, and I’m a man with many interests but chiefly one of the things I’m most passionate about is making games.
Games, make the world better! Games aren't just fun -- they're serious fun! Apart from making people happy, games provide a deeper understanding of the world around us. By providing a platform for human imagination, games enable us to test theories and evolve strategies that help us to solve the challenges of our shared future.
Therefore one of my favorites is strategy games, dreams of changing history, building a geopolitical empire, cloak and dagger diplomacy or struggle on the political arena. To offer strategy fans the pastime of a handful of powerful world leaders featured on the news is a mission we have adopted as our own.
I frequently receive a steady stream of questions and inquiries, our entire team does. It’s usually about when our next game is coming out – in the works; about joining our community – sign up for our newsletter, we also get surprising quantities of love letters from Germany –Wir sind geschmeichelt, Danke!; and we get a lot of questions about technology, game development and game design. This has been a much-cherished topic, as we have gotten an overwhelming support from anticipating fans eager to share our experience and that is when it occurred to me.
Let us start a design series! It’s perfect. We bring the professional international development team and connect people from all spectrums of the gaming industry, and share information with you on Facebook while you bring your questions and provide input. We will then select three questions and feature them in the next episode of the series. It will be an online collaboration, or in Scandinavian terms we’ll be like the ravens Hugin and Munin in the Eddas bringing you information and you will be like Odin, who has like a long hipster beard, and he is missing and eye but is all cool, and envied by all the other Gods. It’s a win for everyone!
As anything worthwhile, this Design Table starts with a woman - Michelle Elzay, a prestigious interior designer and artist who runs the firm Sparrow Design. Her coin phrase is “There are no rules!”. She wasn’t the first to make such a claim. Thomas Edison famously said “Hell, there are no rules here - we’re trying to accomplish something”. Both of them were spot on! How does this relate to something as technical as game design you might be asking? This brings me to our first question:
Q: I’ve read that you have been working on developing your Cold War game. How do you begin a design? - Ajay
Everything we do is aimed at providing the best experiences for our gamers. It might be contradictory as ones experience is imaginary, but game designs are judged by the quality of imagination that are found in games. Because of this, it’s important that we listen to what our players say and do, and then act on our input to provide a total experience. The latest “rules” on what is trendy will always change. With my experience, I would like to dispel the notion that the principles of good game design starts by studying the most complex, modern, high-tech games available. Instead, the way I started is to study far simpler games: puzzles, card games, board games, dice games or even playground games. Besides, the classics have withstood the test of time. We as game designers should understand that most modern games are iterations of ideas that have long existed, some for centuries. I therefore started designing games by playing other games and learning and understanding their deeper qualities. Regardless of your method, game design is an art form and remember that there are no rules on how to become a great game designer. If you focus on starting with the fundamentals of basic human psychology of experiences, you will not go wrong as that has not changed for thousands of years and will be with us for ages and generations to come. In my Cold War game design, I started by looking at how and why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It’s a simple game theory described by Merril Flood and Melvin Dresher working in the 1950s, called the prisoners dilemma. Coin bonus awarded to all of you who read this paragraph without rereading any sentences in one go!
Q: What is a common mistake that many games do? – Alain
In my opinion, the most common mistake is not encompassing the element of surprise. Remember how I argued for experience being important, as that is what a player remembers? Doing fancy mechanics might make a game memorable, but giving the player the ability to turn the game around with a brilliant strategical twist will make it legendary. When in doubt, once again, remember the Vikings - they kept the element of surprise to a maximum.
Q: What makes game design so very hard? – Jon
For me, the hardest aspect of game design is knowing and truly seeing the output of our work since experiences by definition are ultimately unique for each person. Just like poetry, art and music, individual experiences differ from person to person. We deal with what seems to exist but in reality, it's an artificial reality. As I started off this series with the maxim of there being "no rules". This is the hardest and the best part of game designing, but no matter what - you win as we invite you to participate in next weeks edition of Design Table. The topic will be graphical Illustrations and our partners at Scribble Pad Studios will be answering your questions. I would like to finish the question session with thanking todays participants for the questions.
If you would like to send in questions you can either do it via Facebook or email and we will possibly make them part of the next series. Please include your name when sending any question via email unless you would like to be anonymous.