Tag Archives: Game Development

Recipe for the perfect game

Games are hugely diverse and expansive, which is why they’ve become such a popular entertainment medium. But with such a vast choice of genres, cooking one up from scratch and ensuring the meal is delectable is a mammoth task. Fear not though, the recipe for gaming perfection is mere sentences away, and it will guide you fully in the preparation, cooking and serving of a most delightful meal.

burger

Shall we begin?

No, we shan’t! Put your cooking tools away and instead sit down and think about what you’re about to cook. The preparation is as important as the act; you need to know what kind of game you’re baking.

The options before you are vast. You can essentially make whichever game you fancy. You must decide which experience to focus on at this early stage and then commit to that idea completely. And there we have the first ingredient: the high concept stock cubes.

Now this idea of yours needs to be strong. It needs to be something interesting, unique, and most of all viable. No doubt the other designers in the kitchen are going to have ideas of their own and it’s important to crush those opposing ideas under the weighty brilliance of yours. And remember, however vicious and heated the argument gets about this key ingredient, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Of course their opinions will be wrong so always stick with your own.

Now you need to purchase the rest of the ingredients for your game. All are available from any good supermarket.

Ingredients:

  • Idea/High Concept Stock Cubes
  • Setting Authenticity
  • Graphics Flour
  • Aesthetic Flour
  • Raw Music
  • Innovation
  • Depth of Experience
  • Gameplay
  • Control and Interface Salt
  • Programmers
  • Level Designers
  • User Interface Designers
  • Publishers

Method:

First of all you need to create the flavouring mixture. Boil some programmers until they scream then add two high concept stock cubes and leave to simmer. As the agonising screams turn to tired moans, finely chop some setting authenticity and add it to the simmering brew.

Whilst the flavouring is simmering, you can prepare your base. Mix together a couple of tablespoons of level designers with graphics flour and aesthetic flour. Be careful with the measurements for both flours; don’t get confused by people telling you they are the same thing. The graphics flour will add technical visual power to your game; adding to the taste and making the finished meal more appealing to the eye, but aesthetics flour dictates the style of your meal; the mixture of colour and texture to each and every bite. The measurements don’t have to be equal but do be careful not to overpower one with the other. Once you have a firm dough to work with, line a baking tray with it and pour on three quarters of the simmering brew, allowing the flavours to soak into the dough. Place the remaining flavouring mixture back on the heat.

Keep the flavouring on the heat until you hear mutterings of discontent from the programmers. Do not allow it to boil over to cries of lawsuits or you’ll find the flavour too bitter. Whilst you wait, you can prepare the true substance of your game.

Cut some of the raw music into small chunks of sound effects and the rest into long strings of melodies. However, there are two things to remember when using raw music: don’t buy cooked music, otherwise it’ll ruin the tone of your dish when you cook it up later. Secondly, make sure you cut off all the high pitched tones from the raw music. If prepared incorrectly, music can kill on consumption.

Now dice up some innovation and marinade it with the sound effects and melodies in the remaining flavouring brew. Add a sprinkling of the wonderful spice depth of experience to really accentuate the flavours, before adding the meat of the simulator: the gameplay. Emergent or narrative based gameplay will be fine, chef’s choice.

The game is almost ready for the oven, but first it needs some kind of topping. You have a few different options available to you at this point, so keep in mind who your audience is and craft the topping to fit. You may want to ensure a more approachable, casual game, in which case mix together another batch of dough, this time with user interface designers instead of level designers, as well as the graphics and aesthetics flour. Then shape the dough to either cover the other ingredients entirely or semi-cover in a pattern of your choosing.

If your audience are gaming connoisseurs then feel free to leave you dish open, to allow your audience to really see the ingredients. Either way, before popping it in the oven, be sure to add a sprinkling of control and interface salt.

Now you have the choice of baking or broiling the simulator. Baking is quicker but there is always a risk of undercooking, broiling is the best option, if you have the time.

With your game cooked, it’s time to bring in the publishers to help you serve the dish. It may be the best cooked meal of all time by no one’s going to eat it if it’s sloped onto a plate with no care for its presentation.

Now bring an unsuspecting tester in off the street and present to them a plate full of your game. Encourage them to dig in, to play with their food, and then ask them what they thought of the presentation and the meal itself. If after a few bites they are still breathing, then that’s a great sign, it means you prepared the music correctly after all, good job! Now take the testers thoughts on-board and adjust your presentation accordingly. If the meal itself raises concerns then try adding a selection of spices. Depth of experience, setting authenticity, or even some whisked up developers and programmers can add spice to your meal.  Now see if the tester finds them suitable solutions, or even begin planning for side dishes – also known as expansions – to compliment the meal. Be warned though, if the tester hates your meal or dies from tasting it then I strongly advise you start again from scratch.

And there you have it, a perfectly cooked simulator ready for mass consumption. Bon Appétit!

The Magic Circle: Gold Edition review

The Magic Circle is more about games than it is a game. It’s a parody of game design, game testing, player entitlement and auteurism, and as such it’s a fascinating and captivating experience to play that’s like no other.

You step into the shoes of a game tester, entering the game The Magic Circle after it’s been in development hell for over a decade. Minimal staff remain, having been fired or driven off by the obsessed lead designer, Ish. Maze, a former esports star is trapped with Ish, having to lend her voice to the game as part of a contract signed years ago; she can’t quit but instead tries her best to be fired. Meanwhile, a new, plucky programmer has joined the team, having been a lifelong fan of Ish’s work, but her real agenda is quickly revealed. Then there’s the entity within The Magic Circle that needs your help in finishing the game so he can finally be free.

The small cast are superbly voiced and explore the aforementioned concepts with each other and you through tremendous writing. It’s smart, funny and entertaining throughout. Meanwhile, an aesthetic that shifts between black and white fantasy and brightly coloured pixelated industrial design, provides a strikingly unique visual playground to explore as you test the game for Ish and soon alter it for the mysterious entity.

The Magic Circle 1

With the few remaining staff involved in their own personal battles or self-delusion, you are left largely unchecked. Before long, thanks to the mysterious AI entity within the game, you’re whisked away into a large area in-game that’s inaccessible to any normal tester. Here the ability to materialise previously deleted game assets, as well as edit objects and enemies, is introduced and the meat of the game is revealed: explore the game-world and hack enemies and objects to acquire the ability to get close to the in-game representation of the new programmer, hack her and gain god-like abilities in-game to allow you to finish what was started over a decade ago.

Editing objects and enemies is the crux of the experience. By changing their allies, foes and abilities you can create powerful friends to aid you as you explore the strange and hostile world. With no weapons and only the ability to edit, having an army of modified monsters follow you around to protect you is mighty handy. Meanwhile, imbuing them with the ability to fly, resist fire or shoot projectiles aids you in overcoming the puzzles set out before you. Before long you can search the world unimpeded.

The Magic Circle 2

Additionally, thanks to the ability to edit objects and enemies, you can explore different methods to overcome obstacles. However, the scope is fairly narrow, usually with one primary way to solve your quandary and any other solution feeling exploitive. As such, once you’ve mastered this editing mechanic it doesn’t take long to fully explore the world and make you way toward the programmer’s avatar.

Beyond this point, The Magic Circle becomes an entirely different experience, and we wouldn’t dare ruin that for you here. Expect more excellent dialogue, enhanced versions of your previous editing abilities, and a delightfully entertaining and revealing glimpse at game design.

It’s unfortunately a short experience, and one that doesn’t lend itself to repeat playthroughs, however, it’s amusing and impactful whilst it lasts and should be at the very top of everyone’s ‘must play’ list. The Magic Circle’s parody approach and unique mechanics that change your role from player to developer are truly fascinating to explore and you absolutely must experience it.

Thanks to Xbox and Question for supporting TiX