Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Some examples of core gameplay are:
Civilization V Map, cities, settlers, warriors
Unreal Tournament Map, players with first-person controls, a gun
StarCraft II Map, command center, workers, Marines
Each of these complex games has at its core a simple interaction loop
that creates worthwhile experiences all by itself. Even with just workers
and Marines, StarCraft II generates interesting decisions and strategies
to explore. One of the most popular ways to play Unreal Tournament was
InstaGib mode, which removed all but one very simple instant-kill weapon.
The core is the game, good or bad. Everything else is just variation and
In many cases, core gameplay defines a genre. For example:
Tower defense Map, a thing to defend, towers, approaching enemies
Dungeon crawler Character, dungeon, hero, monsters, leveling up
Fighting game Movement, punch, block, throw
Core gameplay is the proper foundation of the dependency stack, be-
cause everything else in the design depends on those basic mechanics. By
identifying the core, we find the shortest path to having a testable platform
for iteration. Completing the core as early as possible gets the game to a
testable state as early as possible. It's only then that the benefits of test-
driven iteration begin. So, as a designer, identify the core and build that
first. And once that core is built, draw something from the design backlog,
put it on the design, and iterate outward.
If you can't find the core, or you build it and it's terrible, consider re-
starting with something different. A game should have a very good reason
for having no strong core. And sometimes there are good reasons for this.
For example, point-and-click adventure games have no real core gameplay.
Pointing and clicking aren't a working game by themselves. These games
are exceptions; they work because their experience is driven by content,
not mechanics.
Some games have multiple possible cores. Consider the open-world
RPG Fallout 3 . One core of Fallout 3 could be player character , guns , mon-
sters . Another could be player character , dialogue , quests . A third might be
player character , open world , world art . The three cores make the game a
simplistic pure shooter, a walk-and-talk dialogue story game, and a world-
sized art gallery, respectively. But each one is still a functional game. The
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