How Do Game Designers Miss The Flaws In Their Games?

Bad DesignOne of my Game Design students was complaining to his classmate about frustrations with a game he was playing. As I approached, he turned to me and said, “How is it that the game designer could not see the flaw in the game he was playing when it was so OBVIOUS?”

Well, I replied, t is very difficult to see the flaws in one’s own work, especially when you’ve worked on it for a long time. You begin to accept all the little details as givens, and you don’t see the trees for the forest. This is why writers need editors and game designers need play testers.

Even then, such things are subjective. What is a flaw to one person is a design choice to another. Many design choices are trade-offs, because adjusting a “flaw” in one design element may reveal an even bigger problem in another. There also may be technical limitations of the game engine or other software component that make the flaw difficult to fix.

Also, there is the limitation of time. A flaw may not appear or become obvious until the entire game comes together, and by then, it may be too late (or too expensive, if many other resources need to be involved to fix the flaw).

A good designer will playtest his or her game with other players early and often, allowing problems to be spotted and resolved before they become too ingrained in the game to be eliminated. However, different types of players have different ways of playing and having fun, so there will always be those players who disagree with a design choice that the game designer makes.



About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on March 31, 2014, in Game Design and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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