An interesting exercise for the holidays

With my winter holidays less than a week away, I’d like to talk about an exercise that one of the lecturers suggested for us in university that could be done over the holidays. This exercise centers around a question that all good game designers are meant to answer: what does the player do? The question itself is not necessarily about what the main character does in the context of a story, but chiefly concerning player actions within a game, what the player is able to do within the game world.

This exercise consists of the following steps:

  1. Take a game idea you have and the main protagonist, and write down some answers to the general question.
  2. Look at the challenges you want to design for primary gameplay, beginning with basic, low-level challenges that tend to be encountered by the player on a regular basis (like defeating enemies for instance).
  3. Consider the intermediate and then higher-level challenges in gameplay, and whether or not they can be met by previously defined player actions or whether or not they require additional actions for the player.
  4. Consider options unrelated to gameplay that you may want to make available to the player.
  5. When a comprehensive list of actions has been created for the primary gameplay mode, repeat for all other gameplay modes.
  6. When a comprehensive list of actions has been created for all modes of gameplay, you can user interfaces for each mode.

My plan is to do this for a few game ideas that I have, including the subject of a game design document to be made next semester (providing all goes well after my assessments at the end of this semester), as well as do this for my alter ego character and his universe. May or may not post the results of the alter ego character going through this process. I think it might be interesting to go through this exercise and see how my understanding of constructing game ideas develops, and how it could potentially affect their future development, or how it generally affects my understanding of imagining characters.

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