Evolution of Game Design

Champions Online
Lead Designer Randy "Arkayne" Mosiondz released a developer blog on the
evolution of game design and how community feedback has shaped
development of Cryptic Studios, Inc.'s latest superhero game:

No game design is perfect. There are so many factors that go
into the
design of a video game, especially a massively-multiplayer role-playing
game, that hitting on a perfect design from the start is nearly
impossible. There are unforeseen elements that crop up from the
interactions of dozens of game systems over a huge amount of game
content. There are technical budget limitations that force designers to
make decisions on how to evaluate whether to make game features simpler
or cutting them entirely. As game implementation proceeds over the
course of months and years, the initial game design may evolve into
something quite different than original conception.

The initial game design is largely based on a game design vision, IP
considerations, industry trends, and budget. The design process is
shepherded by the creative officer of a company and the

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style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online
has a strong IP foundation and Cryptic knows how to make superheros
come to life.

design leads, with additional consideration by company directors,
investors, publishers, marketers, etc. Decades worth of game design
experience go into the initial game designs for a project as it goes
through much iteration of conceptual design, analysis, and buyoff from
all parties involved.

Subsequent design revisions are based on tech constraints, internal
game play testing, and most importantly, player feedback.
Implementation brings to light many complications involved in the
initial design, and it is up to the game design leads to decide which
ideas are integral to the game and which need to be discarded in favor
of more lightweight and elegant solutions in order to still meet
project budgets.

Despite all of the complications and dependencies, at the end of the
day it's the user experience that matters. A gamer typically doesn't
really care how or why a game gets created: they care about if a game
is fun.
"Fun" is a highly subjective term, but most game designers get into the
industry because they like games and want to create a fun game
experience for other gamers. In short, a game designer wants to provide
the most fun game experience for the most players.

That's why listening to a game community is very
important for game designers – especially during game implementation
prior to launch. MMORPGs in particular are social games – they're all
about playing a game for a considerable length of time while
interacting with other gamers. It's part of a game designer's
responsibility to listen to community feedback with regards to game
design and consider the aggregate of their ideas when discussing
revisions to the initial game design while staying true to the vision
goals of the project.

Let's talk about archetypes with regards to
evolving game
designs in Champions Online. Earlier on in the
design of Champions
we discussed how archetypes such as Brick, Energy
Projector, etc., filled certain roles in the Champions
universe and how each archetype gained bonuses to powers typical of
their role. Power selection wasn't restricted by archetype – archetypes
just provided bonuses to certain types of powers. The idea was to break
the "class" mold prevalent in so many other MMOs while still providing
some guidance for players who were new to the superhero genre or new to
gaming. However, when we discussed this briefly in one of the Cryptic
Q&A sessions, the prevailing reaction by the community was
against any type of archetype bonuses whatsoever,
no matter
how small. Many people pointed to the "total customization" experience
touted for Champions Online, and how making
distinctions effectively restricted power choice by creating optimum
and non-optimum groupings of powers.

Collectively, the Champions Online community made
re-evaluate our initial game design with regards to archetypes.
Considering our open power selection system, did we really need
archetype bonuses? One of our vision goals was to provide a very
flexible powers system to players that they can play with to their
heart's content – why put impediments to this goal by adding in
archetypes? We took the community feedback to heart and went back to
the drawing board. We asked ourselves, would it be possible to create
an open character creation system that still solved the same problems
that character classes did? You'll need to stay tuned for the results!

In short: thank you for all your feedback to our game design articles.
This is ultimately your game and we want to make sure we meet any
reasonable expectations you might have. While it's impossible to please
everyone, we'll do our best to review all your ideas and evolve the
game design where we can.

Did the Cryptic team make
the right decision? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=28548">Talk
about it in our forums!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Champions Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016