Tag: game design

The fun of game design

The fun of game design

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

My new side project is a free to play multi-player mobile game about living the life of a celebrity. It’s brutally competitive and will accommodate up to 10,000 players in one game. It scales horizontally so multiple games can be run at the same time. It’s an idea I’ve had for years and now I’m on it.

The idea is that you start moving to the big city. A city where your dreams can come true by becoming famous in some field. Whether breaking into film,  or sport, on TV, a famous writer and so on.  But first as a wannabe, you have to get a job, whether its pumping gas, waiting on or one of a dozen jobs.  And try to make your way up the greasy pole to the top of the A-List.

I have devised mechanisms for this. But there’s way more depth to the game than what I’ve said. The game is basically about decision making. Every action has consequences. If you go to this party, you might make friends with someone who can open doors that will give you more public exposure and earn celebrity points.

The game server generates events that you can attend. It’s a busy life attending openings, first nights, filming of videos, commercials, going to auditions, making guest appearances, signing books, partying, going to concerts, balls, awards ceremonies, opening fayres, launching ships, or more mundane things like product launches, endorsements, appearing in TV adverts and more.

All this has to take place in a game city. So the game server has to create a city populated with buildings, with jobs. Celebrities actually do jobs. Those books don’t write themself, or films make themself. Musicians have to record songs, go on tours. But you are also interacting with other players, helping them and helping yourself.

As a game designer and programmer I have to translate all this into code. In the past I programmed postal games. These were games where orders were sent by post, processed, results printed out and then mailed back. In this case, they’re entered on mobile and uploaded to a game server. Here a program will run at regular intervals and process a day’s activities. All those parties etc. have to be processed and the consequences determined. Did you make friends, did you get any new job offers? Have you accumulated some more celebrity points and moved up in the league table? Did you escape from being a wannabe to C-lister yet?

Then after that’s all done, the results and new decisions can be fetched onto mobiles and players decide what their next decisions will be…  That’s what I’m designing and programming. Both the game server engine and the mobile clients.

Deciding what level features to be used in the Match Three game

Deciding what level features to be used in the Match Three game

Match Three gameI’m at the point of deciding what features will be included in the game and then determining what % of features are used on each level. how to make the game harder etc. As with asteroids I’ll use Excel.

These are features to enhance the game and maybe increase difficulty.

  • Wanted animals. Most levels have a target of a number of pieces of one type. The level is completed when all of that piece have been removed. These ‘wanted’ animals are shown onscreen with a count of how many remain.
  • Locked pieces. On some levels, pieces are randomly locked. The lock is removed only when the piece is in a matched line or in the area affected (from bonus pieces). Locked pieces do not move even if there is a space beneath them. For really hard levels, two locks can be used on a piece. Each lock has to be removed.
  • Skulls. Some levels have a number of skull pieces to be removed. This can only be done by removing pieces below so the skull drops and eventually reaches the bottom row where it is automatically removed.
  • Timed levels. Some levels will have a count down timer; so many animal pieces have to be removed before the timer runs out.
  • Bonus Pieces. These appear when a 4-match, a 5-match or a 6-match occurs and show special pieces- a 4-piece, 5-piece etc. Two 4-pieces dragged together clear a 5 x5 area of all pieces (remove locks on locked pieces). Two 5-pieces dragged together wipe out all pieces in both the row and column. A 4 and a 5-piece together wipe out all animal pieces of the animal piece (picked randomly) next to the 5-piece. Two 6-pieces together wipe out all pieces on the board (locked pieces aren’t wiped, just unlocked). A 6-piece dragged on a 4-piece or 5-piece wipes out all pieces in 3 rows wide and 3 columns deeps.
  • Board Rotation. The board can be rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise. This allows spaces created under locked pieces to be possibly filled. It also helps get rid of skulls that are now on the bottom row. But some levels start with a number of board rotations. Once used up, the only way to earn them is to do something like drag two four-match pieces together.

So now I have to decide how these fit together on the different levels, what weighting each has and calculate a difficulty score that should increase as you progress through levels. Oh the joys of game design!