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  • Just One More Turn: Game Development Tips From Sid Meier

    [10.21.21]
    - Darenn Keller

    Game Development Tips

    Not every culture view games the same way.

    We see and create games through the lens of our culture.

    [...] not every culture viewed games the same way, and that there was definitely such a thing as an American game. What would a truly international game look like, I wondered, with no cultural bias, and universal appeal?

    If you target a specific culture it might be a good idea to keep that in mind. But I believe we should create games the way we see them through our own culture and personal experience.

    It's always refreshing to play games from a different culture (compare the Street of Rage with Aurion : Legacy of the koriidan, the first professional game of Central Africa that I discovered during indiecade).

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    Implement and try instead of pondering for hours.

    It will depend on your skill in programming, and the scope of the design you're thinking about.

    • Is it really interesting?
    • Is it mandatory for the game to work?
    • Can I implement it quickly?

    But in any case, don't lose too much time trying to figure out if it will work out. Playing is the best way to know. You should not be afraid to make mistakes.

    When balancing a value, double it, or cut it in half.

    Say you're trying to find the perfect movement speed in your FPS game. Instead of adjusting it by small amounts, directly double it or cut it, and observe the result. If it's way too slow, just double the speed again and repeat the process.

    This method is actually inspired by the binary search algorithm.

    One good game is better than two great games.

    It's better to make one good game than making two great games into one. You will be creating several games. Avoid applying all your ideas into one game if it seems like it would be better off in another game.

    The rule of third.

    Civ designers pursue a rule of thirds. One-third of the previous version stays in place, one-third is updated, and one-third is completely new.

    In my experience, at Ubisoft it's more like 90% reused or updated and 10% new.

    Seek joy elsewhere, because you never know where inspiration will strike.

    As designers, part of our job is very rigorous and analytical. But the other part is based on creativity, which we fed with our everyday experiences.

    One of the first games ever created was based on tennis, and I bet the designer did love playing tennis.

    Of course, you can get inspired by other games. But be careful to avoid serving the same plate every time and bring about your own unique designs. Make sure you read, learn, and seek joy elsewhere. You never know where inspiration will strike.

    See technology in terms of progress, rather than limitations.

    I'm wondering if we still have limits nowadays. It seems like there are no limits anymore unless you're talking about realism and size. A lot of new technologies aren't widely applied to video games yet. It might be because of price, comfort, and the lack of interest from developers.

    However, some of them have a huge impact on the design of games. Pokémon Go is a huge hit that used Augmented Reality technology, you don't see that in every mobile game.

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    I feel like a lot of developers have no desire to transform the media. I develop games to play with a pad or keyboard. I keep the exotic techs for small and funny projects. It's not a bad thing to keep doing what you love -- There are games that are still released on retro consoles and people enjoy it.

    But let's keep updated about new technologies and think about what we can achieve with all this new stuff.

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