The whole process of creating a video game, from design to development, is a bumpy road that is often difficult to overcome. When designing a game, there are many factors to consider if you want to create a satisfying and enjoyable experience for players.
what kind of game will it be, what mechanics will it use, what theme will it have, what story will it tell?
It can be overwhelming to think about all the elements that go into the development of a game, but it is important to take the time to study them carefully. Keep in mind that the decisions you make will determine the success or failure of your video game.
To help you, we bring you a list of 10 key tips to guide you on your game design journey. Combined, the following concepts that we will explore will help you understand some of the critical elements of game design and development.
10 key elements of good game design and development
#1 Focus on the user
This is the first thing to keep in mind when developing any product, but when it comes to maximising engagement, as is the case with video games, it is absolutely critical.
Before you start creating your app, you need to have a clear idea of who your target user is. It can be useful to create personas about the types of people who will gravitate towards your video game. In addition, you should conduct market research on the wants, tastes and needs of your target audience, so that you can create a product that responds to these interests and improve the user experience (UX) .
#2 Assess trends and competition
In addition to determining the interests and desires of your target users, i.e. potential players, you need to take into account the conditions of the market itself. What ideas are in vogue? What types of games have stood the test of time? What are competitors doing?
It pays to research the ins and outs of the video game industry to better understand the climate and the types of products that tend to succeed, as well as those that are doomed to fail, to ensure that yours is not one of them.
Some ways to conduct market research are:
- Assemble a focus group to test early versions of your game.
- Conduct surveys on what potential users are looking for.
- Attend game events to see what else is out there and network with other game developers.
#3 Make your game different
Now that you know your competitors and your own audience, you'll need to find ways to differentiate your game from existing products and newcomers. Sony itself keeps releasing new versions of its popular PlayStation to keep up with the times.
As you probably already know, the video game market is vast and saturated, so your app's vision must offer something that your competitors don't: elements that players can't find anywhere else, or a familiar formula with a good twist.
Your game must do something better than your competitors', elevating the user experience or addressing weaknesses that exist in their products.
#4 Find the hook of your game
The hook of your game can be the story, the characters, the mechanics, or even the aesthetics. The hook is the factor that makes players like your game. It's what grabs or "hooks" a player from the start and keeps them playing.
It's something you need to consider from the beginning of your project because it will ultimately determine the long-term appeal of your game. Once identified, you need to leverage it to attract newcomers to the app and keep long-time consumers hooked.
#5 Keep it simple (at first)
If you're new to game development, keep it simple and avoid overly complex elements. Otherwise, you risk deterring players with a confusing product. Remember, the goal is to attract and retain users. Once you've been at it for a while and have established yourself as a great product maker, you can experiment with more complex concepts.
This extends to UX (User Experience) design as well. Menus should be easy to navigate, the interface should be intuitive and the overall look and feel of the application should be simple and fluid. Adding too many cluttered or complex elements will confuse users and could overwhelm them.
#6 Find a balance in the pace of the game
The speed or slowness of a game is an important factor. If a game is too slow, players may get bored; if it is too fast, they may feel overwhelmed. It is important to find a balance so that players always have something to do and never feel stagnant.
When adjusting the pace of a game, you should take into account different aspects, such as the player's experience level, the type of game and the players' opinions.
For example, in a strategy game, a novice player may need more time to plan each move, while an experienced player can make decisions more quickly. The pace of the game should be adjusted accordingly to suit different types of players.
#7 Keep different elements of the experience in mind
Video games require involvement, perhaps more than most mobile or computer applications. The experience is not static: it is highly interactive. All elements of the experience need to be considered, for example:
- The story
- Colour scheme
- The hook
Each component contributes to the video game as a whole. For example, the colour scheme can set the tone and communicate the mood of your product, while the story engages and draws the user in.
These are just a few of the many moving parts you'll need to consider in the design and development of your game.
#8 Make the controls intuitive
The handling of the game is closely related to the user experience and influences the effectiveness and ease with which users learn to play. Incorporating intuitive and easy-to-use gameplay elements are key to motivating players and keeping them engaged.
In addition, controls determine the progression of players throughout the game, so it is no small feat to make the game controller or keyboard and mouse functionality as comfortable and manageable as possible.
#9 Balance the gameplay
There is nothing worse than playing a game where you feel disconnected or at a disadvantage. Weapons that don't deal consistent or appropriate damage, visually confusing levels, unchallenging enemy AI... these are all problems that represent poor gameplay balance.
Gameplay balance is one of the biggest challenges for any game designer, and for good reason: the definition of "balance" changes with every game you create. An imbalance in one game may be the exact effect you want in another project, depending on the type of game you're creating. Perhaps the best way to test the balance of your game is to let other people play it and give you feedback.
#10 Test it
Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant error could ruin the entire game. To minimise the prevalence of defects, the game must be thoroughly and rigorously tested throughout the development cycle and before deployment. This is absolutely critical because games are interactive, dynamic products that require attention to detail.
Highly experienced QA testers will not only be able to identify bugs in your game, but will also find ways to improve other aspects of the product, such as usability, performance, functionality, user load adaptation and many others.
Designing and developing a video game is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either. Video game development can be complex, but nowadays there are thousands of tools that can help you make it as easy and simple as possible.
In addition, these tips can make the process much easier.