10 tips for building a better game

This is an edited excerpt from Chapter 5 of Playful Design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces, published by Rosenfeld Media.

"Okay,” you say, “I’m ready.”

You’re a seasoned designer with a long history of creating compelling user experiences. You see the advantages that games can offer to UX design. You like (maybe even love) the idea of building an iPhone game to serve as a tour of a historic park, a social media game for Facebook to organise a political campaign, or a freestanding Flash game to teach basic physics on an educational website. You even have a rough concept of what that game might be like. You may be in a position to get funding for the project within your company or to pitch the idea to a receptive client. You want to start putting your ideas down on paper, get development under way, and speed toward launch.

That’s an awesome place to be. Vision and ambition are written into the opening lines of all success stories. But there are some risks to jumping in too quickly. Game development is very time-consuming and resource- intensive. It can be difficult to make a significant change in direction if you discover midway through development that some of your initial ideas aren’t translating into the great gameplay experience you had in mind.

So before getting started and running with it, you need a primer to point you in the right direction, to steer you clear of the most common mistakes, and to maximise your chances of success. This is the chapter for you. Though the challenges of building an enjoyable game shouldn’t be oversimplified, the 10 general guidelines I present here will at least help you refine your ideas and break through some of the common barriers that could otherwise hold back your design.

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