Maaaalenky PDF-assembly of hardcore articles about GameDev

    I learned from publishers that from January 1 to 10, people read more than in a year. Therefore, a small gift from us - we agreed with Daniel Cook (a former game designer at Epic Megagames), took and translated several of his hardcore materials about game development. And put them in a hundred page PDF.

    • How games are formed by the external environment : how the market affects the plot of the game (for example, because of a decrease in the average income per game, the role of the open world decreases - it takes too long to do) and so on. Very good analytical review from the guru with specific tips.
    • Organization of game processes in a multiplayer game - how to bring players together, how to do asynchronous interactions, and much more with numbers and examples. Good hardcore.
    • TOP 5 disputes about the development of 2014 - last year's material about what trends were discussed. Everything is relevant now.
    • The declaration of independence of the developer is an American cry of the soul that "remove the dirty paws of the financial director from the plot of the game." Well approximately.
    • Criticism of criticism of games - what to do if amateurs write reviews, and how to stand out from the ballast.
    • Creating effective cause-and-effect relationships in games is an incredibly useful thing for all those who want to understand how cognitive game patterns work. Useful not only for developers, but also for UI / UX specialists.
    • Trophy tables - the mathematics of picking out loot from the corpses of enemies. It starts with educational program and rapidly accelerates to very cool solutions.

    Here are the PDFs and the full texts . Below in the post are the main points, if you are too lazy to read everything or want to here and now.

    How games are shaped by the external environment

    This is a story about how discourse affects the development process. Here is the pulp:
    • Digital distribution and low-cost tools: an advanced trend is the ability for small development teams to create and release low-cost games.
    • A huge audience brought up on the consumption of content.
    • Average product revenue falls. In fact, in the mobile gaming market, it is tending to zero.
    • The price for one copy is less than $ 0.99. As Steam evolves, game kits are gaining in popularity, and consoles are providing more and more free games, further erosion of prices for premium games is expected. You have to win a large audience and earn less money.
    • Not enough clarity. The channels are awash with games of dubious quality. In the first 30 seconds you need to show quality - otherwise there will be no more time.
    • The cost of production increases: cheap tools reduce capital costs, but labor costs remain unchanged.

    The need to achieve more and more high quality leads to an increase in the cost schedule. Five years ago, creating a first-class mobile game could have cost $ 50,000 (including employee housing). Now, with lower incomes, costs range from 200 thousand to a million dollars (or higher). Such expenses arise almost exclusively due to the race of content and options: more art, more animation, the use of 3D is growing, more and more “necessary” options.

    Accordingly, games are getting shorter, fewer options, the development time is shortened, people rely more on proven mechanics in their development. Next - forecasts where all this will roll and what will result. Damn useful.

    Here is the full text of the translation .

    Organization of game processes in a multiplayer game

    Here are two schemes of the game:

    The first is a shooter, strategy or card game, when the opponent needs an answer right away. The second is chess, turn-based strategy or something else where you can do something before the opponent’s move. Next is a story about how to design large games with asynchronous player interaction. For instance:
    • Single player: personal development skills, development, world exploration and storylines are available as development tools.
    • Two players: communication, relationships, status, gifts, trade, cooperation and competition become available.
    • Three to four players: alliances, politics, rumors, stereotyping, and juxtaposition of strangers become available.
    • A small group (more than five players): group interactions, official leadership, role specialization, official punishments.
    • Middle group (more than twelve players): faction formation, barter economy and the possibility of exile.
    • Large groups (more than forty players): the emergence of a hierarchy (leaders and their deputies), the monetary economy, the requirements for observing roles. Special management systems, consolidation of social norms in society.
    • Very large groups (over two hundred players): the introduction of trading classes, market regulation of prices, fixed management systems, subclasses, the presence of celebrities, and the use of propaganda. From this stage, the players are not exactly familiar with all the other players, and official structures are required to fulfill social norms.
    • Huge groups (over a thousand players): polls, development of resources at the city level. At this level, there is little that happens that would not have already been noted for groups larger than two hundred or even forty people.

    Further - about how to collect players at the same time, here is another quote:
    Active Player Trap: One of the common mistakes made by developers is that they think that a high number of active players will lead to strong communities. However, in fact, you need to look at the real number of simultaneous users, since in many games the simultaneity coefficient is extremely large. The game can have 1000 players, but if each of them enters the game for five minutes a day on a rolling schedule for a week, we get that the average number of simultaneous players is 0.5. If the selection system does not cope with such a tiny, unevenly growing number of players, the game dies.

    About the game with friends and strangers, examples of games, matches and generally a lot of hardcore. The full text is here . As you read, see our example already, about how Vlaada Khvatil gathered people in multiplayer , and about the history of the Hive ( in the end, about tournaments ).

    TOP 5 disputes about the development of 2014

    • Holivar "what is a game" - yes do not care, the main thing is that the definition does not help in the development.
    • Story-oriented games against mechanics - you still can not separate one from the other. I already wrote about this , the conclusions are generally similar.
    • The role of randomness and the role of the player’s skill - the fact that randomness is needed so that beginners have chances, but skill at later levels decides.
    • The importance of realism. “The realism of graphics and game physics is no longer the main goal for most game developers. In practice, it turned out that realism is not a prerequisite for developing a successful game. ”
    • Casual vs hardcore. “The variability of the game in each case is enormous. In almost every game of medium difficulty, you can find more than half a dozen styles. Each game can be compared with a city in which thousands of different people live. Thinking only about average values, you will not get a complete picture of how to improve your game qualitatively ... In my understanding, dividing players into ordinary and hardcore is an offensive and incorrect labeling. ”

    You can fully enjoy the argumentation in holivars here .

    Developer Independence Declaration

    • Development is at the forefront - there is no Game without Dev.
    • The game designer’s vision for the game.
    • Amateurs overboard.
    • The developer must understand all aspects of the game.
    • Do not be silent about your views.
    • New markets and trends need to be invented.
    • The right to make a mistake.
    • The right to choose.

    Apparently, someone stupidly got a stupid leader. And this phenomenon is massive. Full translation here .

    Criticism of criticism of games

    “We need authors with a deeper understanding of art, production, and game design. Most gaming publications are based on information received from a narrow circle of players, journalists and representatives of the humanitarian academic environment. Often not offered a view from the standpoint of the classical sciences or game developers. I believe that most of these authors are simply partly illiterate in game matters. It’s like taking the people who watched figure skating on TV and never danced on the jury for dancing. ”

    In short, we see it every day on Habré, but besides complaints there are also specific proposals. And for some who write topics here, this will be useful:
    • Justification: Does your theory have empirical evidence? No need to write something that seems to you.
    • Awareness: have you written about this before? Look for information and be armed with it.
    • Content: Does your article offer a new perspective or tool for further discussion? No need to raise the old arguments, expressing your opinion about a new chip.
    • Practical focus: Does your article offer a solution to the problem? Do not let your idea hang in the air. Encourage the reader to take action, build knowledge that is useful to the gaming community as a whole.

    The text is here .

    Creating effective causal relationships in games

    A very cool thing with hands-on UI tools, development and heaps of everything. I recommend reading in full, even if you are not a game developer. A couple of quotes:
    “I'm a mechanic repairing broken black boxes. One important concept helped me well. It lies in the fact that when considering the relationship of the system and the response used by the game to describe the interaction with the system, these relations can be divided into "dense" and "free". In a dense system, cause and effect are clearly defined. In a free system, it’s more difficult to distinguish between causal relationships. ”

    “Skills are stacked on top of each other. Jumping in Mario gradually develops into complex navigation skills between platforms. I believe that the stages of the game, in which the player acquires basic skills, should be the most dense. These systems need to be made the most obvious from the first seconds of the game, they are a kind of gateway to the game, to the rest of it, so to speak. Reduce the number of choices available, use existing thinking models and make causal relationships as clear and visible as possible. Then, when the player learns the basics, you can enter into the game more loose connections, the development of which will require more effort. "

    Here is the full text .

    Trophy Tables

    A couple of quotes:
    “Here's how to make guaranteed trophies.
    • When you receive non-guaranteed items during a throw, the weight of all such items is reduced by X%
    • X = 100 / maximum number of throws, until guaranteed items are received.
    • The modified trophy table is saved for the next roll. ”

    “Sometimes I want to check whether objects based on a certain external variable can drop out. In the game Realm of the Mad God, we wanted to avoid players getting trophies for killing the main enemy, just like that, without inflicting the slightest damage to him. And for this, we added the conditions for obtaining trophies in the table of trophies. When a valuable trophy falls out of the table, it is immediately checked whether the player has caused enough damage to the enemy to receive this trophy. ”

    Page here.

    От хорошей разработки к отличной

    И напоследок – интервью с Ричардом Гарфилдом, рассказывающим, в частности, про прототипирование. Простое и лёгкое после всего этого. Его нет в PDF, только текст вот тут.

    Ну и если вы не читали Сирлина «Играй на победу» — мы её тоже перевели давно. Вот пост, там ссылки на PDF и тексты.

    Всё. Хороших праздников.

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