Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mechanics of Grand Theft Auto

On the most basic level of game play mechanics achieved by Grand Theft Auto is the art of theft with a good helping of mayhem and doom thrown in. You have your classic life meter with a twist: you can run faster and longer as you run across the map. You can add a bullet proof vest to add even more protection. Cars where another factor, rightfully so considering it was called Grand Theft “AUTO”.

Some of the original mechanics used by GTA1 were unlike any other seen at the time, helping to define in part “sandbox” style of play; not to mention the idea of emergent game play mechanics, there are so many of these that it would be almost impossible to list them all. I am going to try and point out a select few.

Sex, drugs and guns are very much at the heart of the GTA franchise. I intend to identify some of the mechanics that have advanced and point out a couple of examples of emergent game play mechanics, based around the driving and cars in GTA.

Example 1 - “The Driving Car Bomb”

First Mechanic is the driving of a car, seems somewhat simple but was done very well by GTA.
Second Mechanic receiving damage / dealing damage that would in turn set the vehicle ablaze.

Creating the final mechanic of dealing someone a car bomb! You could drive these cars into buildings, other cars, road blocks, etc to try and escape the situation you were currently in or just blow things up for fun.

Example 2 - “The Classic Drive By, With a Twist”

First Mechanic being able to shot a gun... really?
Second Mechanic was being able to drive a car, again something GTA has been able to do a great job at.

Coming up with the first game to ever have drive by shooting. I believe that it was GTA2 that sets some missions as being drive by shooting. As the game progressed, 3 and 4 make it a common occurrence in the world of GTA.

Example 3 - “Car Manipulation... Radio, Making the Car Bounce, Wheelies!”

I feel that this is a more localized mechanic but nevertheless, the all important transportation factor. You're traveling thousands of miles (feels like it sometimes) and needed a way to keep the player interested with the game while this went on. Now there are tones of things to do while driving; mess with the radio, honk your horn at people (we know what else this can do for a pimp), flash your lights, bounce (with hydro), hit people wreck people, make other cars wreck people, run over fire hydrants, shoot people, make other people shoot people... shall I continue?

GTA has changed the landscape for sandbox games forever! Not to mention the evolution of emergent game play mechanics!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Important aspects of game design

There are several aspects I believe to be critical for the development and deployment of a successful video game. The first being the ability to learn and grow while playing the video game including but not limited to; leveling up, health advancement, weapons / spell upgrades and just all around different ways to defeat your enemy in general.

When I play a game that does a good job in submersing me in my surroundings, making me feel more in touch with the game and the other aspects within the game, this increases my wanting to succeed. I also feel that a good tutorial / training level is important to the success of a game, if the player has no idea how to do something it is going to make it hard to keep their interest in the game longer, decreasing the re-playability value.

Some of the other aspects of game development that are critical: high quality graphics, large levels that are free roaming, ability to differentiate between other games, online and multi-player playability. Storyline and character development are also important. This can help to maintain a strong fan base.