For my analysis using The 100 Principles of Game Design I wrote about the game Rogue Legacy – a rogue-like game that involves dying over and over to make incremental progress in defeating an ever-changing dungeon.
For the principles I wanted to look at in Rogue Legacy, I chose to discuss the use of a core gameplay loop and imperfect information. I chose core gameplay loop as a principle, since Rogue Legacy operates on the basis of entering a castle, exploring, dying, and continuing on as one of your three children. Some of these children have negative traits, such as near/far-sightedness or dementia, resulting in an imperfect view of your surroundings.
It was interesting to write about the core gameplay loop in Rogue Legacy, as some games with a cyclical format can become repetitive, whereas Rogue Legacy stays fresh even after playing for over an hour. The two principles work in harmony here, where the use of imperfect information keeps each cycle interesting, as you sometimes have to pick the least bad traits available, giving your attempt at the castle different challenges each time.
These principles are relevant to me as I love rogue-like games and would like to make one in the future. Furthermore, many games in this genre use these two principles so it was key to understand how they were implemented in one of the best examples of the genre.
When following The 13 Basic Principles of Gameplay Design, I wrote about They Are Billions, a zombie real-time strategy game with a steampunk apocalypse setting. I decided to use Matt Allmer’s principles as they covered all aspects of They Are Billions and how its different components work.
The most important principles for me when writing about They Are Billions were sound, anticipation and communication. These are cleverly weaved together in the design of the game, with sound acting as the unifying factor. Sound design is particularly important to me as a player, since I have been a part of two national music organisations, so I’m often keeping an ear out for interesting use of music and sound effects in games.
Anticipation is core to They Are Billions, as from the very start of the game you are anticipating a giant wave of zombies coming to attack at the end of a set period of time. This is built upon through the use of music, from the Final Wave (Build Up) theme using frantic violins to the brass section blasting out through the speakers whenever there is a wave of zombies approaching.
Finally, They Are Billions would be a far worse game without the clever way that it uses communication. In games where many things can be happening at once, ensuring the player never misses a beat is crucial, otherwise the game could feel unfair, and punishing the player for trying to complete more than one task at any given time.
These two games are very different from one another, except for one common factor of crushing difficulty. I found it interesting to analyse two games from two distinct genres, and in doing so I learnt more about how each game worked, such as the strategy game nestled inside of Rogue Legacy, and the rogue-like features of They Are Billions where if your command centre is destroyed, you have to start over again when no two maps are the same.
Despain, W. et al. (2012) 100 Principles of Game Design. San Francisco: New Riders. [book]
Allmer, M. (2009) The 13 Basic Principles of Gameplay Design. [website]