Game Development Reference
playing field. In many games the identification of the player with the on-screen
representation - the avatar or player character - is an important part of the
gaming experience. Few such representations have become as widely known
as Lara Croft, the all-action heroine of the Tomb Raider games, but her iconic
status is as much a testimony to the importance of strong game characters as
to the compellingly interactive nature of the games she appears in.
Interactive software can take on many guises. Feeding columns of data
into a spreadsheet programme is interactive, but is hardly something that
most of us would call a fun experience. And that is at the heart of what
should distinguish a game from any other interactive experience - fun! A
game is something with which players should enjoy interacting; something
that gets their hearts racing, tests their reactions and skills or makes them
laugh out loud.
Creating fun, interactive games is about setting challenges for the players
and giving them the means to meet those challenges in a satisfying way.
Challenges and objectives should be a mixture of short term and long term.
In a simple game like Pong , the short term, or ongoing, challenge is to keep
the ball in play.The long term objective is to beat your opponent.The style
of challenges will depend on the type of game, but will often be quite mixed
and varied.Very few games will succeed that are based on a single gameplay
mechanic or do not vary the nature of the objectives, so power-ups, better
weapons, decreasing time limits and more complex game levels are pretty
much par for the course. Interactive variety is very important.
Passive elements do exist in many games, but these are viewed very
differently depending on the context in which they are used and the type of
player involved. One such element is the cut-scene - a scene triggered by
conditions in the game in which the player has no input. These are pre-
defined sequences that often appear at the end of levels, act as a game's
introduction or convey necessary story information at regular points through-
out the game. Depending on the nature of the player, these cut-scenes may
be seen as a reward for completing the level or as an obstruction on the way
to getting to the next bit of action.
The nature of cut-scenes is changing and becoming more integrated with
the regular gameplay. Some game styles are moving towards cut-scenes with
an interactive nature, which stops them from being cut-scenes in the strictest
sense but keeping the term enables the developer to separate them from the
majority of the interaction. Interactive cut-scenes are not entirely new. Most
adventure games and many role-playing games have skilfully used dialogue