A 3 minute lesson in game design (my talk from Flash on the Beach 09)
Update: You can now watch the video here.
I'm back from Flash on the Beach in Brighton. There are loads of great write-ups of the conference coming out, so you don't need another from me, but here are my slides and notes from my 3 minute "elevator pitch". While I'm writing I will just say it was great to meet all my fellow pitchers, and I think we gave a rockin' session - in the main theatre no less, so probably about 600(?) people saw it. Here's my slides (click on slide to advance):
Here's what I said:
Make it fun.
Make it obvious.
I'm Iain, I make Flash games. Here are my tips for making Flash games, but hopefully you can apply them to whatever it is you do.
Make it fun.
- When you're making games it's easy to get side-tracked by your awesome code framework or particle effect or whatever,
- but if you don't make a fun experience for players, what's the point?
Make it obvious.
- If you need to have an instructions screen on your game, you've already kinda failed.
- Talk to your players through the language of games.
- When you get the power-pill in PacMan, the ghosts go blue, their mouths go wobbly, they start running away.
- The player thinks – ah that's different, maybe I can eat ghosts now – ah yes I can. No instructions necessary.
- Players browse web games like they're flipping channels on cable TV.
- If they're on a site like Kongregate they've got the choice of 18 thousand games.
- So forget all the cut-scenes, menus and tutorials, get straight in to the action.
- Try not to mix mouse and keys. Pick one.
- If you're making a casual puzzle game, just use the mouse.
- If it's a platform game, stick to just arrow keys and spacebar.
- Only if you're going for a pretty hardcore audience is it safe to use mouse and keys together.
Evolve your game.
- I've worked on far too many projects that had months of planning, emails to clients, design documents, wire frames, PhotoShop mock-ups.
- Not until two weeks before the deadline, you actually start developing.
- The day before the deadline you finally finish it and play it through. Is it fun? No. But it's too late change it.
- So throughout the process, make prototypes, iterate.
- There aren't many games that can survive without characters,
- so even if you're making an abstract physics puzzle, you should be thinking about how you can make it feel human and approachable.
- While there's still time to make changes, put your game in front of real players.
- If you think you've got intuitive controls, players will be mashing the keyboard going “what do I do”?
- If you think it's too easy, to a new player it's probably impossibly hard.
Respect the medium.
- Don't just make games with Flash, make games for Flash.
- Flash games have there own genres, like physics puzzles and tower defence that have evolved to suit the medium.
- Don't copy other games, but work out what makes them fun.