Task 8 Elements of game design, part one from Pong to next-gen…

Game design starts with an idea, often a modification on an existing concept, but the game idea may fall within one or several genres. The genre of a game often defines how it will be designed.  Designers recently have been experimenting with mixing genres. Many decisions are made during the course of a game's development about the game's design. It is the responsibility of the designer to decide which elements will be based on, for example, consistency with the game's vision, budget or hardware limitations. Design changes may have a significant positive or negative impact on the overall game play. The typical approach to game design seems to be starting with a concept or a previously completed game needing a sequel, and from there create a game design document. The game designer usually produces an initial game proposal. Containing the concept, game play, feature list, setting and story and target audience. The design document is to map out the foundations of the game, and act as a reference for the development team. This document should ideally be updated as the game evolves through the process.
Setting, story and character concepts require a research and writing process, which is then used by designers as a reference. Designers concept and prototyping can be sometimes be improved by using existing engines and assets. Level designs might be done first on paper and again for the game engine using a 3D modelling tool. Important to remember, is all the time the design needs approval in the commercial side as a continuous process from the earliest stages until the game ships.

A personal favourite game of mine with strong design and clear fast moving narrative is BioShock. BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and designed by Ken Levine.Set in an alternate history 1960, the game places the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones. Bio Shock clearly incorporates the design features in role-playing and survival games. The game received overwhelmingly positive reviews, which praised its "morality-based storyline, immersive environment and Ayn Rand inspired dystopian back-story”. While the game play is similar to what resulted in the released version of the game, the story underwent changes in the design throughout the making. Levine says it is Irrational Games “guiding principle” of putting game design first. Levine also noted that it was never his intention to do two endings for the game. It was a change very late in the design and was something that was requested by somebody up the food chain from me. In response to an interview question from the gaming website about what influenced the game's story and setting, Levine said, "I have my useless liberal arts degree, so I've read stuff from Ayn Rand and George Orwell, and all the sort of utopian and dystopian writings of the 20th century, which I've found really fascinating”. Levine has also mentioned an interest in "stem cell research and the moral issues that go around it”. In regard to artistic influences, Levine cited the books Nineteen Eighty-Four and Logan's Run, representing societies that have "really interesting ideas screwed up by the fact that we're people."