Theory: Everything I Needed to Know About Game Design, I Learned from Space Invaders

  • Start players out slow, then add more challenge.
  • Safe places create moments of respite; moving out of them then creates moments of excitement.
  • Simplify the player’s interaction with the game as much as possible.
  • Forgive enough player mistakes to let the player learn, but not so many that the game is trivial.
  • Keep the effects of your medium in mind. If, for example, your computer chips are going to move the aliens faster as they get blasted, you want to know that in advance if at all possible. 😉
  • Let the player do things that clearly provide progress, but make it hard to tell which action offers the most progress.
  • Related to the above, make it easy to be OK at the game, but as soon as the player reaches that point, let her see how much more there is to learn and do.
  • Cute, appealing monsters are easy to like.
  • Related to the above: art doesn’t need to be complicated or realistic to be cute and appealing.
  • Tune everything. Player movement, enemy movement, victory requirements, average game time, everything. If it can be expressed numerically, tune it precisely.
  • Don’t be ashamed to monetize a good product.

One thought on “Theory: Everything I Needed to Know About Game Design, I Learned from Space Invaders

  1. I generally agree with your points, except that from what I remember the characters were not particularly “cute”, nor did many aspects of the game seemed “tuned” precisely.

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