When you start making games, and you have built-up reasonable skills to create what you’d like, it is always interesting to look at how you could improve the game play and make it more fun. Ideally, you’d do that initially in a brief design document, but it’s always possible to add small tweaks that really improve the game; these don’t need to be very complicated, but small changes can make a big difference. So these 5 simple tips should help.
1 – Random & Variety
Players usually don’t want to repeat themselves, and many enjoy when the movement of teh actions of the NPCs are not always easily predictable; this means that they’d prefer to play an environment that may be different every time; they may also prefer not to be able to predict some of the NPC’s behavior, which adds to the challenge. So how can you add these features. You could do the following: instantiate NPCs, health packs or ammos in random locations, add a probability that the NPC may not act logically (instead of attacking systematically when the player is in sight, there might be a slight chance for them not to act this way). NPCs could use random paths (this makes them less predictable). As long as the game is essentially based on skills, adding random events should bring some interesting challenge.
2 – Different ways to achieve a goal
One interesting thing in a game is to give a way for players to achieve their goal in different ways and to give them a sense of control and choice. By giving them this choice, they will feel that they relate more to the game and also possibly feel more immersed. So for example, they could reach the end of the level using different paths, using a secret door, or “teleport”.
3 – Rewards
It’s often good to reward the player when they have achieved a significant milestone (e.g., bonus at the end of the level); but you can go a step further by rewarding them for taking risks. So, if your game makes it possible to reach a goal in different ways (easy and difficult), make sure that the latter provides more rewards. So, for example, they may need to pick-up item1, item2 and item3 to complete the level or (more risky) defeat opponent 1.
4 – Provide different types of rewards
Players play your game for different reasons; it could be for exploration, escapism, competition, or just to challenge themselves. So what is perceived as a reward may take different forms, based on the player’s preferences. So you may provide a wide range of rewards in your game including: score increase, extra lives, extra-powers, a spot in the high-score list, beautiful rooms (for those who are more visual), new sounds or sound effects, etc. You get the idea here.
5 – Allow the player character to grow and change
This means that the player may acquire new weapons, skills, or assets. The idea is that the player character will evolve overtime; so in the case of a FPS, you could include different weapons to the level, add power-ups, etc.
There is of course more to game design; however, with these simple tips, you should be able to improve the game play by adding small (but effective) changes.
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