"My design skills improved a lot thanks to him. He was a driving force in my education."
Léo Lefebvre, master Game Design student, Bellecour Ecole
"Thank your for your knowledge, your time, your pedagogy, your interest for video games, for us, for everything you gave us!"
Anonymous, master Game Design, Bellecour Ecole
"Best Game Design classes I ever had! \o/"
Anonymous, master Game Design, Bellecour Ecole
For decades now, psychologists and other experts have studied games and their broad array of effects on players.
Thanks to their work, Game Designers can better understand their audience and design experience to better suit their needs.
Based on the work of Koster and Czikszentmihalyi, this lesson covers the seminal theories of game-related pleasure. They will learn to think games as a learning space and apply this idea in their design.
A player isn't as free as he expects in a game. An array of psychological mechanisms are meant to maintain him on the intended path.
Students will discover the various conditioning schedules as theorized by J.F. Skinner, their use in game and their effect on player's behavior. They will also get a primer in Behavioral Economy techniques meant to use the players cognitive biases.
This lesson gives a special place to Free-to-Play games, as they rely heavily on such techniques. Students will be made aware of the fine distinction between guidance and coercion, so they bear in mind to alway work toward a positive experience for the player.
The succession of goals to fulfill and subsequent rewards is the cornerstone of most games. This lesson covers the anatomy of these key elements and how they combine into complex rewards structures that allow the player to engage gradually with the game.
Why do we enjoy play? According to the Self-Determination Theory made famous by Ryan and Rigby, games are a great opportunity to fulfill our need for autonomy, competence and relatedness. Students will take a closer look at these basic psychological needs in order to satisfy them.
As many other media, video games have what it takes to tell stories. Their deeply interactive nature opens new horizons, but it also comes with unique constraints.
No storytelling without a story. Students will learn the building elements of stories and their structure. They will be made aware of the symbolic dimension of stories and how they blend together into culture-defining myths.
Games have access to a wide array of embedded media to tell their stories. But they also have their own language: the central role of the avatar, layered levels of story within a single game, storytelling by mechanic or space...
In an everlasting chase for interactivity, video games constantly experiment with new ways to give the player authority over the unfolding of the storyline. Many models try to maintain narrative cohesion along with player freedom: branching stories, parallel story threads, dynamic or precedural stories, etc.
The quest is where the plotline of a game turns into playable content. This lesson covers the production pipeline of a quest, from a mere concept all the way to implementation in a game engine.
One doesn't write dialogs for a video game the same way as for cinema or theater. Every line must fit the guidelines of a complex system, and provide the player with necessary info for his progression.
This lesson is a glance at the diversity of dialog systems and the writing constraints that come with them. Students also have an opportunity to hone their writing skills for more depth and efficiency.
Balancing a game is tricky and somewhat tedious job. But, although mathematical models help maintain internal consistency within the system, it is a time of intense creative authorship in order to give its soul to the game.
"A game is a series of interesting choices", said Sid Meier. This lesson explores the concept of meaningful choice and why they matter so much in games. Students will learn to spot faulty choices and fix them. Beyond maintaining equality between options, they will discover the reasons why some subtle unbalance may enhance the play experience.
All game can be described as a system of exchangeable resources. Students will look at the diversity of resources in games and how their evolution can generate very different play experiences.
In a competitive environment, players end up fighting for the control of limited ressources. In games that allow them to set the transaction rates between themselves and the game system, things can rapidly turn in the advantage of the strongest. It is wise to anticipate such issues and have some answer ready.
One of the most powerful tool in a designer's box. Feedback loops allow to adjust success odds according to the players current situation. It can be used for a variety of purpose: help a winner stand out, allow underdogs back into the fray, or have game adapt its difficulty on its own to the player's skill.
Players left free to go against the interest of other players without restrain can ruin the play experience for everyone. This lesson addresses the issues of king-making, king-bashing and Mexican stand-off. It describes the circumstances in which these situations develop, and some solutions to prevent them.
All players don't start on the same foot, and all games don't need them to. Asymmetrical games, skill gap between players... This lesson gives an overview of exotic players configurations and of how to make them seem fair.
All topics don't fit properly in a box...
The days of player manuals are over. In-game tutorials have become a mandatory feature, and yet many players resent them as dull and restrictive.
This lesson describes a set of principles to bear in mind when designing tutorials and look at their deployment over a variety of commercial games.
In little more than a decade, achievements have become a trope in video game culture. What do they stand for? Why do player grant them such value? This lesson explores the diversity of achievements out there and propose the students to design their own achievements for the game of their choice.
Who's ever played a game ruined by intricate menus or a bad controls distribution?
In this lesson, students discover general principles on how to design an efficient interface and map controls so as to minimize unnecessary inputs for a quicker, nicer, more immersive game.
Every cultural field has a taste for self-referencing. New titles are built upon the legacy of iconic masterpieces. For a designer, awereness of the weight of traditions might make the difference between the drive for innovation and a creative standstill.