Game design don’t have to be a science! There are quick and easy implementable things which can have a great effect on the fun of your game. This post will give you 4 useful tips which you can easily apply to your game and will improve it a lot.
Note: The tips in this post are mainly written out of the perspective of an 2D-shooter game but can be applied to games out of every genre in a similar way.
1. The perfect start
It is our goal to keep frustration levels low in early game. Which means you should keep the difficulty low to give new players the chance to get familiar with your game. I prefer a tutorial like level in which the player gets slowly introduced to the main features and controls of the game. You either could work with textboxes to provide the info to the player or designing the level in a way the player can discover all features by himself which i personally prefer. Another important thing to hook new players are quick and cool rewards in the beginning.
5-minute-task: Make enemies really weak, reward player for almost every action he performs.
2. Surprise, surprise!
Nothing is more boring than a predictable game. Keep it varied! Give the player rewards where he don’t expect it like achievements for trivial things like walking a specific distance in a shooter game. Hide enemies in places where the player is not expecting them. Build secret rooms. Give the player a lot to discover!
5-minute-task: Use a random generator to randomize key parameters of your game. Like enemy speed, health or damage and so on.
3. Feedback is the key
Graphics and Sound that is how your game communicates with its players. Every action a player performs in your game like shooting, killing an enemy or collecting a coin should have a appropriate and satisfying reaction by your game. For example a shot is hitting an enemy there should be some kind of hit indicator. It can be a sound or maybe some particle effects like blood or both.
I guess everyone knows the sound when you open a treasure chest in The Legend Of Zelda. This kind of game feedback is really important and you can’t afford to forget working on that.
5-minute-task: Create cool screen shaking effects.
4. A good challenge
When a game is too easy it will become boring quickly. The value of rewards a player can get is defined by the effort it takes to achieve them. Keeping that in mind it is important to make the game challenging for most players. Don’t make it too easy but also not too hard (frustrates players). You have to find a good balance and focusing on your main targeting group. If your game is targeting hardcore gamers it can be more challenging than a casual game.
Difficulty can be handeled in many different way. The classic approach is to implement different difficultiy levels from which the player can choose. A modern approach would be to make the level more easy after a specific number of fails or offering power-ups which can be bought either with ingame money or with real cash a bit like Candy Crush Saga does it. Character progression is another solution too the difficulty problem. The player can replay easier levels collect coins and experience points, invest them too make his character stronger and after that he can try the hard level again and he may be successful.
5-minute-task: Play your game a lot if you never loose something is wrong. Keep in mind that you are a pro in your game because you are developing it so don’t make it too easy.