Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 2.7: Premise #GDWW

Each week, I’ll go through an exercise from Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Third Edition. Fullerton suggests treating the book less like a piece of text and more like a tool to guide you through the game design process, which is why the book is filled with so many exercises.

You can see the #GDWW introduction for a list of previous exercises.

This week, I’ll be identifying the premise of a handful of games.

Premise

This section of the book continues identifying ways to engage the player. Premise provides the context for the other elements in the game.

You can touch or avoid arbitrary positions in an area, or you can eat all the pellets while chasing or evading ghosts in a maze.

No one says, “I almost fulfilled the victory condition before I triggered the loss condition.” They say, “I almost ate all of the dots, but then the ghosts killed me.”

As games involve submitting yourself to constraints and trying to achieve some goal, the premise gives you the reason why.

This week’s exercise tasks us with identifying the premise of a few popular games.

  • Risk: each player is in charge of an army and fighting for world conquest.
  • Clue: each player is suspected of a murder and trying to identify who really did it.
  • Pit: it’s all about cornering the market in commodities
  • Guitar Hero: you’re struggling to become the next big rock star

Exercise Complete

You can see how a premise could make for a good starting point when trying to create a game, as it gives you a focus in terms of the player experience. The premise also lets your players know what to expect.

If you’re making a golf simulation, you want to mimic it as best as you can with wind speed and silence, but if you want to make a strange fighting golf game, you might have zany music and fast-paced action, with golf carts used as a means to quickly close in on opponents to strike them with your unrealistic and mechanized clubs in order to get the ball in the hole first. A fan of the first could be disappointed with the second.

If you participated in this exercise on your own, please comment below to let me know, and if you wrote your own blog post or discuss it online, make sure to use the hashtag #GDWW.

Next week, I’ll talk about games with gripping stories.

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