As game developers, we constantly strive to create captivating and memorable games that keep players coming back for more. However, achieving this is often easier said than done. It requires skill, patience, and an acute understanding of what gamers want. In this article, we’ll explore how Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series became a game design masterpiece and what we can learn from it as game developers. We’ll also take a look at other games that got things right.
Don’t Tell Me About It; Let me Do It
One of the biggest problems that game designers face is trying to force gameplay into a story. The result is often a game where the story and gameplay are completely divorced from one another, leading to an unenjoyable experience for players. To avoid this, designers need to ensure that the player interacts with the story in a meaningful way. This is where Uncharted got it right.
The game allowed players to do everything they wanted to do. Whether it was action or talking, players were given the freedom to play everything they wanted to play. This was made possible because the designers focused on the parts of the story that players would enjoy. In a film, this would mean focusing on the couple falling in love, fighting, breaking up, and getting back together. You don’t need to see them use the restroom, get dressed, eat lunch, or turn up the air conditioning.
Other games that got this right include The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, and God of War. All of these games understood what players wanted and built the gameplay around it.
Build the Gameplay Where the Player Cares
Another essential aspect of game design is building the gameplay where the player cares. If your game is about solving mysteries and tracking down a criminal, then make the gameplay about solving mysteries, figuring out what to do next, and making choices based on evidence that affect the story. If the most exciting part of your story is about gunfights and chases, then build the gameplay around shooting and running.
One game that got this right is Grand Theft Auto V. The game’s developers understood that players wanted to explore a vast open world, commit crimes, and drive around fast cars. They built the gameplay around these aspects of the game, which is why it has become one of the most successful games in history.
Always Keep the Game Flowing
Finally, game developers need to ensure that the game keeps flowing. In Uncharted, the game was designed to keep moving, even when the player lost. This was achieved through the use of a hint system that allowed players to get unstuck when they were struggling. The game also saved a checkpoint at every action sequence or gunfire scene. If the player failed at the challenge, the game would send them back a few moments to the beginning of that scene, which reduced frustration and kept the game flowing.
Other games that got this right include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Super Mario Odyssey. All of these games were designed to keep the game flowing, even when the player lost. This ensured that players were always engaged and never lost interest.
Uncharted is an excellent example of how game designers can create a masterpiece by focusing on what players want. By allowing players to do everything they wanted to do, building the gameplay where the player cares, and always keeping the game flowing, Naughty Dog created a game that was both enjoyable and memorable. Other games that got things right include The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
As game developers, we need to take these lessons to heart and create games that are truly unforgettable.