A beginner’s guide to designing typing games and exploring their niche market
A short article based on this genre study was published on gamedeveloper.com
If you already know some typing games, you probably have an opinion, good or bad. If you don’t know much about them, no worries, that’s what I expected. The genre is very niche, and for good reason: how odd to want to control a game with typing! It is indeed so odd that it brings unusual and pretty exciting design challenges. But the genre is so niche that there are few, if any, design resources available. That’s where I come in! I’ll try to give a good overview of typing games based on my personal experience as a game designer on Epistory and Nanotale, various typing games I’ve played, and interviews I’ve had with other typing game developers.
I plan to cover a bit of the history and background around popular typing games, then delve into the design considerations that typing poses and the solutions we can find. Finally we’ll look at where the genre is headed.
Continue reading “Typing Games: how and why?”
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In the best levels, the level design structure makes you feel like you are exploring areas you are not supposed to, while never being stopped in a dead end.
Continue reading “Exploration Feeling in Spyro the Dragon’s Level Design”
The last edited level is playable directly from the main menu, removing any obstacle for the player to resume its work.
Continue reading “Playable Title Screen in Mario Maker 2”
Progress in Story mode is marked by two metrics, which both come from completing levels. It makes completing levels feel more rewarding at a low development cost.
Continue reading “Progress Feedback in Mario Maker 2’s Story Mode”
Crystals are spent on Plots to get power-ups. Both are limited ressources that require taking risks to get, and you have to chose you power ups wisely.
Continue reading “TumbleSeed’s Loop of Crystals, Plots and Power-Ups”
The circular grid placement pushes you to place buildings in non-optimized ways that you will want to rework when new types of buildings are available.
Continue reading “Imperfect Placement in Circular City Building Frostpunk”
The avatar’s unique ability is to sing, which is controlled with the right stick. Through singing, the game features all kinds of ways of using thumbstick controls.
Continue reading “Versatility of Wandersong’s Singing Mechanic”
Fourth wall breaking reward acknowledging players who achieved something special.
Continue reading ““Thank you” in Super Mario Odyssey’s Final Level”
Prankster Comets appear randomly on previous levels, giving them a new objective, sometimes with adaptations of the level design.
Continue reading “Prankster Comets of Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2”
Branches of levels (presented as metro lines) are connected to each other to add an exploration aspect while keeping some control on the order of discovery.
Continue reading “Exploration in the WorldMap of Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion”
Increasing a stat decreases the others, so you have to increase them back if you want to keep them balanced.
Continue reading “Stats Upgrade Unbalance in Golf Story”
In the gamepad’s radar, crows and rats are detected (and emit a “beep”) as if they were zombies, creating tension and apprehension.
Continue reading “Rats Detected as Zombies in ZombiU”
This article written during Nanotale’s development describes how we kept an archive of decision-making within the design documentation with the help of a few simple icons.
Before starting production on Nanotale, we took some time to prototype various typing gameplay ideas. When prototyping, you have to focus on the things you want to test, and iterate on them as fast as possible. There is no time to document everything. But the prototypes do not always speak by themselves. (Sometimes there is no playable build to keep, like the time I tested interactive dialogs by acting as the NPC and talking through Slack with a colleague. We will get back to that.) So we needed a way to archive what we learned from each iteration, in a format that would be quick to write and read.
Continue reading “A simple format to archive design decisions”
As level designers on Shift Quantum, when experimenting with newly designed blocks (even before they were implemented) we identified and listed the different micro problems they could generate. Complex puzzles are built later by combining them. Each micro problem has a micro resolution pattern that the player has to figure out and learn. I call those atomic blocks of puzzle resolution “solving patterns”. Continue reading ““Solving patterns” in Shift Quantum”
To get to what I mean with that enigmatic title, I should start with an example. A few days ago, with a fellow designer, we started working on the level design of a puzzle game. Because the project is in early development, we try and playtest different approaches. One of them is a large level with a lot of open space. Near the end, there is an empty corridor longer than the screen’s width.
Two out of five playtesters, while crossing that corridor, immediately asked for a sprint feature. Of course we expected that reaction: it takes just too much time to simply cross that level. But that’s why it’s a great example of the phenomenon I want to talk about. Is the scale of the level too big? Or the character too small? Maybe, but what players wanted, running through that corridor, was to press a button and sprint.
Continue reading “The problem behind the solution”