Tuesday, October 2

Echochrome: Principle-Based Design

Echochrome is about playing with perspective. The game is currently in development at SCEA Studios Japan for PSP and the PS3 Network. Echochrome isn't the first game to play with perspective, another recent title, Crush, featured a similar play style. But perspective as a play structure isn't really what we want to look at today anyway, instead we want to look at perspective as a function of game design. Echochrome features a simple but highly effective design schema: principle-based design. Many, and indeed, possibly all good video games use this very same design method. Alot times people want to make video games far more complicated than they need to be, which in the end just makes them convoluted piles of confusion.Principle-based game design, to eschew the non-descriptive title, can more easily be defined as a style of designing games around a set of guiding principles. The beauty of principle-based game design is its functionality in gameplay. Echochrome is a perfect example of principle-based game design because it really strips the term down to its most basic roots.

Watch this video:

Echochrome has one overarching principle: what you see is true. The gameplay is governed by five principles, all of which rely on the same method of control, which is perspective. The five principles are as follows:
  • Subjective Translation
    • Connect pathways to create new avenues.
  • Subjective Landing
    • The character will land on what appears to be below.
  • Subjective Existence
    • Cover over gaps to form a continuous pathway.
  • Subjective Abscence
    • Same as Subjective Existence. Cover up holes to make it as if they aren't there.
  • Subjective Jump
    • The character will land on what appears to be above.
The game is run by these laws, or principals. Once the players understands the laws, all that is required from them to solve the puzzles is critical thinking and the use of this knowledge. More broadly, designing a game with principles for gameplay allows designer's to build the game around those laws, kniwning that players understand the rules by which the game is governed. And really, this is how most games are played. You learn a game's mechanics, then you use them to overcome the game's challenges. Obviously there are plenty of other factors, like skill and chance, but truly, principle-based game design is an excellent foundation.

Here is another demonstration of Echochrome's principals taken from an earlier development state.

No comments:

Post a Comment