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Everybody knows legendary games like Tetris or Breakout. These games are regarded as cult and didn’t need to gain recognition from the players. This came by itself. Even today, these game principles still work and are – albeit in a refreshed form – for example for apps again “rausgekramt”. The secret of a good game lies in its design. We give an introduction to a very interesting topic.

On the other hand, some modern 3D games fight with bombastic graphics and incredible sound for the favor of the players. Despite the best technical conditions, it might end up as a flop. Why? The magic word is Game Design. On a theoretical level, game design deals with the properties and factors that must be present in order to create an exciting game. The aspects of game design have to be considered before a technical implementation takes place.

These also apply regardless of the context of the game, the chosen platform and its scope. The topic is gaining momentum against the background of producing smaller – but nevertheless exciting – games in the form of so-called apps. Now the development of apps has also become interesting for Microsoft Windows programmers with the introduction of Windows 8. Many apps are used to entertain the user for in-between and this includes games, among other things. So what could be more logical than to combine an introduction to app programming with the development of a game? The learning curve is steep, and not to forget, the end product provides fun and interest. In order to keep the player “captivated” for as long as possible, basic principles must be observed.

This article will therefore deal with the principles and recommendations for the design of a computer game. Of course, this article can only deal with a few topics of game design. The selection has fallen into the following areas:

Game Balancing: deals with the balancing of certain characteristics of a game.

Players: some comments on the expectations and motives of the people who will use the game in the future.

Game test: Game tests are a quality assurance measure and should help to identify possible problems in advance.

Simulation and real-time in computer games: a few analytical thoughts. Before developing a computer game, you should also think about the type and direction of the game. This is called the genre of a game.

Genres of computer games

Computer games are divided into genres. This classification is not always free of overlaps and unambiguous. The more realistic the games become, the more there is a mixing of certain genres. Nevertheless, the assignment plays a role, for example, in the selection of the game by the user. The category – i.e. the genre – must also be specified for the provision of the finished computer game in the stores and databases for the customer. The following main categories are distinguished:

Action games

These usually include complex 3-D or first-person shooter games. Fast reflexes and good spatial orientation are required. Tactical and strategic skills are also required.

Adventure

It is mostly about replaying an adventure. The focus is on logical thinking and planned action. The plot is usually developed on the basis of a red thread. In this category belong text-, graphic-, action-adventures and role plays. The latter are occasionally regarded as a genre in their own right.

Think, puzzle and skill games

These are mostly small games where the main focus is on solving smaller problems, and which are played “in between” to pass the time.

Simulation games

Certain aspects of reality should be translated as accurately as possible into a playable model. Typical simulations are sports simulations, driving and flight simulations and economic simulations.

Strategy

These games usually involve complex thinking processes, complex resource management and tactical or strategic considerations. A distinction is made between turn-based games and real-time simulations.

The following categories also belong to computer games, but also have an interface to other software areas. Playful aspects and the elements of a classical application mix.

Edutainment

It is about the combination of play and learning in the sense of a playful transfer of knowledge.

Learning software

The focus is also on the transfer of knowledge. A main target group are pupils. The contents are adapted to the requirements of the school. Learning programs for adults are, for example, language trainers and exam preparation for driving licences.

A distinction is made between training programmes, drill and practice programmes and tutorial applications.

Funny tool software

The focus is on creative design, for example print studios, music generators, etc. Fun and fast results are in the foreground.

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