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The Art of Computer Game Design
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Many games employ multiple key elements. For example, most combat games include both movement and shooting. This is not necessarily bad; if both key elements are kept simple, or if one key element retains primacy, the game can be successful. However, too many key elements violating too many of these principles will rob the game of its focus. Your main problem with creating the I/O structure is overcoming constraints; your main problem with creating the game structure is realizing possibilities. Your previous work with the I/O structure defines the limitations on the structure of the game. You can take more liberties with the internal structure because the player will not directly encounter it. For example, for the game TACTICS I developed a very complex combat algorithm that realistically calculates the effects of armor-piercing shot. The complexity of this algorithm would have confused the player had I tried to explain it. But the player does not need to understand the internal workings of the algorithm; he need only grasp its effects. I therefore did not feel constrained to design a simple-minded and intuitively obvious algorithm. Concentrate an providing enough color to guarantee that the game will convey the authentic feel of reality. Keep your sense of proportion while adding details. It will do your game no good to provide exquisite detail and accuracy in one sphere while overlooking the most fundamental elements in another sphere. A very common mistake many designers make is to pile too many game features onto the game structure. In so doing, they create an overly intricate game, a dirty game. As I discussed in 4, dirt is undesirable; a game is a structure that must fit together cleanly and well, not a brushpile. Dirt creates a second problem not mentioned in 4: it gums up the I/O structure of the game. For example, the long-range scan feature of STAR RAIDERS does provide some nice additional capabilities, but it adds another keystroke to be memorized by the player. That s dirty input. Fortunately this problem is overridden in STAR RAIDERS, because the fantasy puts the player at the controls of a starship, and so the player finds the intricacy of the control layout a supporting element of the fantasy rather than a hindrance. In most games, you may well be forced to give up nice elements in the game structure in order to maintain the quality of the I/O structure. On the other hand, you may be forced to go back and change the I/O structure to incorporate a game feature you are unwilling to abandon. If you do so, do not simply tack on a now command; rethink the entire I/O structure and modify it so that the new command fits well with the rest of the I/O structure. Designing the game structure is emotionally very different from designing the I/O structure. While designing the I/O structure, the designer must thread a precarious path between the Scylla of expressive power and the Charybdis of expressive clarity, even while the storms of hardware limitations toss her design to and fro. While designing the game structure, the designer finds herself on a placid sea stretching flat to the horizon. The challenge taunting her now is "Where do you go "
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The Art of Computer Game Design
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The program structure is the third object of your design attentions. This structure is the vehicle which translates the I/O structure and game structure into a real product. One of the most important elements of the program structure is the memory map. You must allocate chunks of memory for specific tasks. Without such safeguards, you may end up expending excessive quantities of memory on minor functions, and having insufficient memory remaining for important tasks. Definitions of critical variables and subroutines are also necessary. Finally, some documentation on program flow is important. Use flow charts or Warnier-Orr diagrams or whatever suits your fancy. This book is not primarily concerned with programming; if you need guidance on program development, consult any of the many excellent books on program development.
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