Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
Recently I gave a little presentation on making Hide The Body using Subtractive Game Design. So, for this week's blog I've decided to post those slides and talk a bit about them.
So, why specifically Subtractive Game Design? Well Game Design is such a broad topic, you could spend hours talking about the various aspects of it. I decided to speak about Subtractive Game Design because I most recently applied this design method to my latest game Hide The Body.
My approach to subtractive game design on Hide The Body started by first applying subtractive design to my game design document. I reduced the document from a large document spanning multiple pages down to a one page design document under the following headings.
So, what exactly is Subtractive Game Design? With subtractive game design, you reduce a project down to its most effective features. This allows the games core gameplay to stand out. By using subtractive game design, we also avoid the risk of feature creep which often is a problem with projects once they have established a core gameplay loop.
With subtractive game design, the games is built purely around minimal mechanics and systems which as a result allows more time to focus on polishing these systems which should result in far fewer bugs in the game.
A few examples of games who are built around subtractive game design include, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Crossy Road and even Minecraft at its core.
To better explain the subtractive game design process I took, I'll be using Hide The Body as my main example.
When starting out with your games design, you'll need to come up with a quick overview of the game. This is so you or people you are describing the game to can quickly understand what the game is about and what it might be like.
For Hide The Body, the game is about covering up the scene of a crime in a very short space of time before the cops bust in and catch you. The game takes its inspiration from Noir crime in terms of its aesthetics.
Your Objective should be a quick summery of the goals of the game and its structure. In the case of Hide The Body, the goals are:
When talking about the gameplay and mechanics in your game design document, you want to describe a typical scene from the game and how it should play. Explain the core mechanics of the and the features of the game.
You should have an established core gameplay loop at this point. It's also always very good practice to prototype your ideas as early as possible. They may sound good on paper but you won't know for sure until you prototype a scene to test them.
As you can see, even though the prototype on the left is a very rough representation of what the game aimed to be, you can still see that even at prototype stage the game had quite a clear vision of how it should be laid out.
The design of the win and fail states of the game where simple enough. While the game does not use much text to convey information, it does make use of audio and animation to a great extent to convey the current tone of the game.
Above you can see the win state on the left and the fail state on the right. When the player beats a level the win state is represented by the player character doing a slow motion fist pump into the air along with an audio cue that plays a positive track.
The fail state is represented by the player dropping to their knees crying along with an audio cue that plays a dramatic music clip associated with defeat.
When talking about the style of the game you'll want to describe the art style as well as the audio sfx and music and how they will be used in the game.
For Hide The Body a low poly art style was used as it allowed for a lighter take on the games dark premise. A more high fidelity realistic style may have made the game more disturbing than fun. Low poly also allows for better optimization of the game too. The B&W color scheme created a more uniform look to the game that prevents the player from being distracted by other colors in the game while searching for objects.
As you can see, Subtractive Game Design has its pros such as it reduces feature clutter and allows for a more polished game.However, it may not always be suited to your game. If you are working on a larger game that requires many systems beyond just the core gameplay loop, then you have to look beyond Subtractive Game Design and think about Additive Game Design. It all depends on the type of game you want to make.
Until next time!