Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles How can you avoid game design mistakes? Well, when it comes to making a game, it all can sound deceptively simple: You just need art, code, music, and a game design right? Well the truth is, there are a lot of moving parts and challenges within each discipline. What everyone is working towards though, is executing on the game's design. Everyone on the team needs to be working towards a single vision, and quarterbacking the team is the game designer. The best music, art, engineering, and marketing in the world can't save a game from poor design. In this video we are going to give you game design tips straight from expert game designers that will ensure you save time, money, and build excellent designs. These are the same tips that we've seen used while building smaller indie games all the way up to massive triple-A titles. We are Ask GameDev, AKA Handsome Boy Programming School, AKA I saw De-sign, AKA The Ace of Base of Camel Case, and these are seven common game designer mistakes to avoid! Welcome back! If you're new to Ask Gamedev, we make videos to help you learn about the games industry so that you can elevate your games and Inspire others. If you're on a gamedev journey, consider subscribing. We'd love to help you along the way. Let's get into it. Here are design mistakes to avoid. We're starting with this one because it's arguably the most consistent mistake that we see in our industry. It's great to have a grand vision, but one of the biggest mistakes we've seen game developers make, is just simply starting too big. Say you have 10 features to hit, and you're designing them all at the same time. What happens if the first feature turns out to be a dud? Would that affect the other 9? Would it render the other 9 pointless? Designing too big reduces your ability to pivot or modify your ideas. Instead, it's better to take the opposite approach. Define what your core is and tune that until you are positive it works. Once you're happy with the core, you can start layering the rest of the game on top of it. In a nutshell: Keep your game simple and add to it when you are confident in your core. Just remember the ASK rule: Avoid Starting Kingdoms. Start with a house, then grow from there. A lot of today's great games started from bite-sized demos, or even emerged from game jams. The dev teams took a small idea, made sure it worked, and layered from there. The concept for Superhot, for example, was originally developed for the 7-day FPS challenge. #2 - Not considering how to onboard the player Designing complex systems or deep mechanics can be fun, but it's always import to consider how the player will learn to play. As a designer you will understand every little aspect of your game, but you also need to consider what a fresh player's experience will be like. If people aren't understanding your game, it's not the player's - or the playtester's - fault. It's an indication of something that needs to be fixed. Remember, you won't always be there with the player explaining things as they play. Here are some ways that you help the player learn: The most simple way is to have solid tutorials with well-explained concepts, and feedback loops, that teach through difficulty ramping. You can also just have a really intuitive design. How do you know if it's intuitive? Playtesting! And finally, you can have a well-designed onboarding process built into the experience. For example, if you're building a platformer, you can design levels in a way that compartmentalizes things that the player needs to learn, in a step by step fashion. Do you ever wonder why Mega Man games have an intro level before they get into letting you pick which Robot Master to fight? Well, the intro levels are designed in a way that you'll learn all the basics first, so that when it comes time to choosing one of the next levels after, you'll be prepared for any of them, regardless of your choice. #3 - Being too committed to an idea Like they say: ideas are a dime a dozen. A particular design might sound brilliant during a brainstorm, or look awesome on paper or in your head, but the truth is, you don't know how much fun that design will be until you actually execute on it. If after prototyping it, or getting feedback on your design, it doesn't seem to be working or isn't fun, you need to be able to iterate, adapt, or let the idea go. It's great to be a champion of your own ideas, and selling your ideas is definitely a much needed skill in this industry, just don't get too attached. Know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. One of the most famous videogame pivots in recent history has to be the story of Fortnite. Epic's initial vision for Fortnite was “Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead”, and it was launched as a cooperative sandbox shooter. With the success of Playerunknown's Battlegrounds skyrocketing around the same time of Fortnite's launch, they decided to pivot. They added a Battle Royale mode and the rest is history. #4 - Creating an overly rigid design Don't focus too much on "what's supposed to happen" or "how the player is supposed to play". Games are experiential and should be fun to play. If your design is too rigid (e. g. This is the only correct strategy) then your game may not be any fun. You're creating the experience, but not controlling the experience - make sure you make that distinction. If your players are just following a series of instructions, exactly the way that you want them to, then the experience becomes akin to just painting by numbers. Some things you can do to make your designs less rigid are: Add open-world elements to your environments Provide secondary or tertiary paths through gameplay Use real-world physics. And have destructible environments that let the player decide how to advance. Broforce is an excellent example of this. In Broforce you can play through a level like a basic action platformer, but since mostly everything is destructible, you can also just tunnel your way through a level. And since you use a different “Bro” with unique skills each life, there are numerous fun ways to take down enemies, and get through a level. #5 - Focusing on story too much up front Unless you're a making a visual novel, don't focus too much on story up front. There may be exceptions and story is important but don't put all your effort into writing a plot if you don't know how the game will play yet. Like a lot of the common game designer mistakes on this list, this takes away room for you to pivot, adapt, or completely change your design if you feel the need to do so. With a few exceptions, most of the core Mario games have the same basic story: Bowser takes Princess Peach. Mario saves Princess Peach from Bowser. Even know we all know what's going to happen, we're always psyched for new Mario games because they're extremely innovative, charming, and fun to play. #6 - Underestimating Polish Polish, polish, polish! Never underestimate how important tuning and polish are and how much time it will take. When you are working on a feature, and you think you are 80% done, you're probably only halfway there. When estimating time, be sure to allocate a sufficient amount of time on the schedule for tuning and polish. We've seen a countless amount of games rush through or even skip this phase, and just end up crashing and burning at launch. Don't get your game skewered by rushing through tuning and polish. As Shigeru Miyamoto says “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”. And lastly #7 - Arbitrarily adding things When working on games, it's easy to get carried away and just arbitrarily add things. You'll hear the phrase “Wouldn't it be cool if….?” a lot! Sure a lot of things sound cool, and probably are, but you have to be purposeful in everything you add into your design. Beware of feature creep and know why you're adding something. Don't just add a feature simply because “it could work”. An unnecessary feature may be harmless, but some may actually harm good features and take away from the overall experience. So at best, you're just eating up time that would be better spent polishing the rest of the game, and at worst, you're adding things that ruin the overall experience. Some of the best games that we've played are also some of the most minimal. Take Thomas Was Alone for example. With great writing, excellent level design, and a gamefeel that's tuned perfectly, Thomas Was Alone was able to breath life into basic, colored, rectangles. Well that's all 7! If you'd like to protect more freshly authored game code, you can take a look at our previous gamedev mistakes video, 8 mistakes to avoid when making your first game, here: What other game designer mistakes can you share with the Ask Gamedev community? Let us know in the comments! And before we leave you this week, let's take a look at the Ask Gamedev Community Member Game of the Week! This week's game comes from Sharky, who shared their game on our Discord Server. Chromasia - Rock Paper Tactics by Nexus Games. Chromasia is a turn-based tactical RPG that puts an interesting spin on Rock, Paper, & Scissors. Explore your way through a dark but comical story, and choose your own path to 1 of 8 unique endings. Chromasia was built by a team of two people and made with a custom engine that uses the LIBGDX framework. It's available now on Steam. Thanks for watching! we are Ask Gamedev and we make game development videos on how to elevate your games and inspire others. We publish new content every week so consider subscribing - and hit the bell below to be notified as soon as a new video is available.