Game Design = Head + Brick Wall

One of the interesting things about game development is looking at the various examples one uses for inspiration.  As a gamer, you experience all types of different games and you quickly get a sense of what works and what doesn’t, what’s fun and what isn’t.  The tricky part is to use that knowledge you gained as a gamer, and to transfer that over into your project as a game designer.

“Tainted Sword” is an RPG.  As a gamer, I’ve played many RPGs of different styles and I’ve been able to generate my own opinion on what works best.  It’s actually pretty easy to form an opinion as you play a game – you see something that annoys you, you immediately think of changes that you think would greatly improve it.  But suddenly as a designer, it seems different.  Working on the combat engine over the last little while has caused me to realize something unsettling.  All those brilliant ideas that materialize as a gamer, thinking up improvements to games on the spot as you play them, pretty much vanish when actually trying to develop something.  It’s like a weird kind of writer’s block.

The reason seems pretty clear.  When you’re a game designer, you suddenly become aware of all the irritating little details that need to be decided upon and implemented.  One idea that seems brilliant, suddenly doesn’t work so well under practical scrutiny.  So then you’re forced to regrettable scrap your brilliant idea and search for something else.  Then you find it, get really excited, and then watch as it implodes in another fashion.  And again, the cycle repeats itself.  It’s like beating your head against a brick wall, stopping to treat and bandage the wounds, and then beating your head against the wall again.  Finally, many iterations later, you get the breakthrough you’re looking for and you celebrate, weeping in relief mixed with uninhibited joy.  Then you stop and work on the next irritating little detail.  Only 1326 more to go!

If nothing else, this experience has provided me with a fresh appreciation for the game designers who take the time, and bear the headaches, of creating and crafting the games we love and obsess over so much.  I tip my fedora to those guys and gals who put up with it all!

Posted in Game Design, Tainted Sword

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