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Controlling Chaos Designing Compelling Combat in Action Games - Adam Bormann - Game Design

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Published on Dec 29, 2014

In real life, combat is unpredictable and chaotic. If games tried to realistically model combat, it would create random-feeling combat, and wouldn’t be very much fun, not to mention far too difficult. In action games, we use systems and design principles to create scenarios where we can control the chaos and teach the player to predict what may happen. Once they feel comfortable, the player can start playing the game intentionally; understanding the choices they are making, and anticipating what challenges the designers might throw at them next. Once the player understands how to make meaningful choices in a combat experience, your game can become an engaging and compelling experience. We will look at decisions designers often make about weapons, player abilities, cameras, combat intensity and difficulty, enemy design and patterns and see how these choices affect a player’s experience and enjoyment. By examining how designers can clearly communicate the options the player has and whether or not they chose the right option, we can learn about how the player and the designers have a dialogue through the game. Players who understand the choices they are making in combat, can predict probable outcomes, and aren’t overwhelmed by the chaos of the game will be more engaged and will have more fun, even when the game is challenging.

Attendees should get a greater understanding of the moment-to-moment decisions that we ask players to make in action games and concrete examples of how to make them meaningful choices. They should understand how and why designers can manage the chaos of individual combat encounters.

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