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  • Applying Polish: Tips & Tricks

    [06.14.18]
    - Tristan Tran
  • You don't need to change your video game's gameplay or graphics to improve the final quality of them. You just need to think a little bit about design.

    How do I make my game better? This is a question that is often difficult to answer. There is no real definition of a ‘good game' or steps you can follow to make your game exceed. Though, this doesn't stop us from thinking about design to create the game we've always wanted to create.

    Plus, who doesn't want to make an awesome game?

    Play to your strengths

    The first thing to consider when designing your game is to think, what skills am I good at?

    Everyone in this world is different, people have their own strengths and weaknesses. What you need to do is play to your strengths.

    If you're good at programming but not that great at art, make a game that is program heavy and has simple art.

    This applies to the other end of the spectrum. If you have a flair for creative artwork but lacking in programming, design a visually appealing game that is simple to play.


    Look at Thomas Was Alone, a puzzle game created by Mike Bithell that consists of only squares and rectangles. This unsuspecting game earned itself a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Games Award in 2012.

    Of course, this shouldn't stop you from improving what you're weak at. If art is a weakness, and you want to learn and improve on it, don't stop yourself from doing so. Persevere, and eventually, you will end up with zero weaknesses.

    Apply the correct music

    You might not be the best at creating music, but most will argue that music is one of the most important sounds in your game.

    Music sets the tone and mood of your game. It can strongly influence the players' emotions as it runs in the background throughout the whole duration. Without it, players hear nothing and the impression of the game is bland.

    Players need to consistently be given feedback and information. That's why music loops over and over again. As a result, it is a vital aspect of designing to create the perfect tone and mood of the game.

    Decide on the type of music you want to implement first. You will then be able to design the sound effects you want to add.

    Mega Man X's music is phenomenal. As soon as you boot up the game, you are introduced to this piece . This track begins to hype you before beginning on the adventurous journey of Mega Man.

    Assort and identify sounds

    Once you have the music in place, you can now start to think about what sound effects you want in your game.

    Sound effects are what make or break your game. Without it, your game won't be immersive and will feel empty. But with the correct amount and types of sound effects, your game will be a complete experience.

    Sound effects should be in and throughout your game, whether it be from a ‘bleep' for hovering over a button to a ‘BOOM' for an explosion, sound effects should be everywhere.

    Don't go out and start adding random sound effects for the sake of adding sound. This will do you worse than good. You need to think of sound in categories.

    Have a category for the enemy, player and user interface. For each category, give them an effect that every sound would use. For example, the enemy category might have a stronger base effect.

    This makes the game sound consistent and more believable.

    As Tim Ruswick, a Game Designer for 5 years, claims, "Add base to everything [...] it really, really, really, really, really helps [...] it makes the sound effects more powerful."

    Take a look at this gameplay trailer for Persona 5. The first 30 seconds of the trailer is riddled with sound effects. Already the viewer is immersed and wanting to experience more.

    Use sound effects effectively. Create effects that fit into your game and put these effects everywhere.

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