Dynamic Game Design

A videogame can be seen, in very simplified terms, as an outcome of strategies that two players chose to maximize their utility. The players in this game are videogame designers and videogame players and the designers want to maximize the videogame players’ fun and the player wants to maximize his or her fun while playing the game. The players have their own set of strategies to achieve these same outcomes. The designers have the strategy of level design to keep the videogame player having fun, and the videogame player can choose to keep playing the game if it is fun or not play the game if the game stops being fun. This means the game designer already has to know the videogame player will have fun once the game is released; to ensure this outcome, game designers have to know how a videogame player will play the videogame to continue having fun. Travis Hoffstetter in his article The Art and Science of Pacing and Sequencing Combat Encounters discusses how videogame designers know how a player will play a game and this knowledge is used to create levels in a game that have proper flow and keeps the player having fun.

The videogame players have three ways to play a level in a videogame: assess, attack, move. These three simple ways to play are the key to making sure a videogame player is having fun and keeps playing the videogame. When a videogame player assesses, he or she is looking at the level environment; when attacking, a player is fighting the enemy and when moving a player is going to a different location of the level. The designer uses enemy spawns to move the player between these three choices. This can be done by having a few easy enemies at the start of the level, making the player attack, then introducing a harder enemy that comes through a doorway. This makes the player asses what to do: move or attack. The designer does this to keep the videogame player going to each new level and to progress through the entire videogame and to have fun throughout the entire experience.

By developing a game in such a way, the game designer makes a videogame where the designer knows the videogame player will have fun. The designer has used a form of dynamic games to build each level. The game designer makes the first choice by making the level, the videogame player will than choose how to play the level. If the game designer has done made the level correctly, the designer has already made the decisions for the videogame player. The videogame player will continue playing the videogame making decisions the designer wants to maximize the videogame player’s fun while playing.

It is interesting to see that videogames, which are seen as an open sandbox where the videogame player can do what he or she wants and the designer can only make a game that attempts to keep up with the player is actually the result of a detailed dynamic game where the designer has tailored everything to make the player respond in such a way to keep pushing the game forward.

Author: DonJavo

I am a content creator and co-founder of Where'd the Time Go, a company dedicated to videogame culture through filming lets plays and other videos. Don't hesitate to contact me here on WordPress if you have any questions or comments.