Commandments of game design: Antti Ilvessuo, creative director of Trials Evolution
Continuing our series of developer commandments, RedLynx creative director and lead designer on Trials Evolution Antti Ilvessuo offers up his ten rules for making better games. We published our ten commandments last week, and you can keep track of every doctrine using the Commandments of game design search tag.
Don’t annoy the player
Be very clear about the rules you set. Whatever you do, don’t irritate the player. That may sound weird coming from the Trials guy, but, for example, when you fail in Trials it’s your fault. Not the game’s. The rules of the bike and the physics of the world don’t change. It would have been easy to create Trials in such a way that there were random mines all around and, oh boy, would that be a challenge – but it’s not. Not really. It’s just irritating. It is irritating because it sets random conditions that are unfair to the player.
Some people might say, “OK, what about the Steam Vents in Trials Evolution?” Well sometimes you can get close to almost breaking the rules about annoying people, and people will complain. Those vents aren’t random, but they feel random. Judging from the amount of comments about how much they are disliked, that just proves the point!
Focus on what’s important
Even if you have unlimited time and budget to make a game, you still have to finish it someday. When it’s ready, your core features need to be clean, tight and solid. Focus on those. Make all the things in your game work around them. Too many times in different projects, the amount of time used for things like fancy loading screens or weird menus take away from the core game. And when the game comes out, one core feature is broken in a way that annoys the heck out of players. Do those fancy menus still feel justified? No.
Reward the player
When a player get’s something done, and done well, give them something. It’s a digital medium, so giving stuff is easy! A medal is good. A beeping sound and a green light when you pass a checkpoint is good. An explosion, fireworks and total mayhem of music and visuals when you get a Platinum medal is good. Whatever it is – honours, storyline progression, glory – just give them rewards.
Challenge the player
Here it is. Wits, skills, questions about the situation: let the player unwrap it by using the game mechanics that you have given him.