The course will tackle common challenges, obstacles, tried methods and solutions for designing games from a visual standpoint, while keeping focus on in-depth insights where color represents emotion, word becomes story and we become characters.
Whether we started gaming with Pong or Nokia snake, as technology progressed and platforms evolved, the design impact in games provided a brand new and wide canvas with a new palette of colors, choices and emotions. It is hard to distinguish the design in the narrative and visual development since both of them, along with many other factors, need to become one in order to form a harmonious approach and present each segment in a manner where they are lived and not skipped through.
The course starts by designing a narrative for a game, which is one of the main key points in the entire process from the main storyline, secondary and tertiary storyline, scripts and emotional context, choices between guidance and exploration, tailored pacing or endless freedom, emersion through details and impact, to genre, flare and connection. If one carefully places all pieces of the narrative puzzle together, while not making everything visible, known and explained, the product life will be expanded, its emersion integrated and there will be room for improvement since untold stories are often written in sequels or continuation. Therefore, defining a direction in a creative and artistic sense, along with product placement, audience, media of play, platforms, rewards/achievements, genre considerations, player challenges and gameplay difficulty, presents a unique approach to solutions that often seem simple in the eyes of the player.
By game design, we differentiate the design of the word, mechanics, content, characters and level design, along with the user interface and user experience as a whole, together with the audio design and its look and feel. Again, the task to seamlessly blend all elements together is not an easy task to accomplish but one of the utmost importance. Design by genre takes a role of defining rules of the craft in which certain key elements must be met in order for the emersion to take part, from mechanics and key points to expectations and places open to endless possibilities. An escape from the boundaries of genre often provides a double-edged sword of success and failure, yet if the design process is based away from the script and the narrative, forming on the visual take from the initial sketches to layout, concept and design prototype, all the way to changes and correction, after testing and interaction, the path to success is much more viable. This does represent a cyclical approach to design development and is often used in top grossing and most successful games, where everything is taken into consideration. During this process, teamwork represents a pillar upon which every decision rests and excels towards a more focused result.
In order to accomplish good delivery of the game content to the player, support design should be implemented to the furthest extend, ranging from in-game animations, cut scenes, cinematics, control design, visual aids and clues intended for game play, hints and tutorials that reinforce the experience and ease of use. But despite the scenery and environment, narrative and style, mechanics and achievements, everything would stop if it wasn’t for the main character that represents the embodiment of the player. Character design with key points in form and function, readability of silhouette and intentions, mood and story, age and diversity represents something relatable or desired.
When continuing to discuss game design, we can’t shy away from the business side of things, which is often connected with design when requests for change and room for improvement appear as market and strategy demands, leaving the game a bit imperfect but with planned routes of content ready to satisfy issues raised by the community of players. In the end, from its early adoptions, iterations and merchandising, the design must be ready to respond in a manner suitable to sustain a game narrative, direction and connection with players.