Have you ever thought about designing your own game? Sure you have, in fact this is something that many of us have likely daydreamed about before. The principle of game design, ie, the ability to create your own entertaining universe, has an allure that is hard to resist.

For those that go beyond daydreaming and actually decide to create their own content however, the basics of game design sometimes catch them off guard. It’s easy to imagine creating something , yet far harder to actually do it. If you’re in this category, or just interested in gaming in general, you must remember the four key game design principles required to give life to virtual dreams.

Principle of Game Design No. 1 – Honesty

Games design philosophy is predicated on the player expecting a fair game that isn’t rigged against them. Even in casinos where the odds are stacked against the gamer, they understand that they still have a chance to win. This applies to the principles of game design too even if money isn’t involved, the player must feel they are able to win fairly.

The challenges the player faces in any game must be fair with an expectation of success, without recourse to cheating. The basics of game design dictate that instructions for challenges, characters etc, should be easy to understand. Make your game hard to play if you want, but try not to make it too complicated either.

Principle of Game Design No. 2 – Core Mechanic

Every game needs a solid centre on which to be grounded, therefore one of the most important game design principles is creating a core mechanic. This is one simple rule that your game is based on that doesn’t change. For example, if your game principles are based around an action hero you may want to make your game a first person perspective shooter.

The key to a good core mechanic is like many other areas of game design principles –  simplicity is key. Don’t over complicate this, especially if you’re starting out. Keep your core mechanic easy to understand and constant. Focus on improving this aspect rather than adding more, and the player will enjoy their user experience by being able to focus better on gameplay.

Principle of Game Design No. 3 – Reward

There are two reasons why a gamer may decide to neither try your game nor continue playing it. The first of these is reward, or the lack thereof. The basics of game design dictate that the player finds their experience rewarding. Every challenge they overcome, or new difficulty level they play under, should be rewarded proportionally.

The trick of course is balancing reward without making the game too easy. Make your rewards sparse, but enriching, including character development, and offer benefits like exclusive content for success. Think of this gaming principle like sugar: a little is good for you as it encourages you and gives you energy, but you wouldn’t want to guzzle it down all day.

Principle of Game Design No. 4 – Fun

The second point about game design philosophy that determines player uptake or continuance is pretty simple; Fun! A game needs to be fun and entertaining if it is to be popular and successful. Games that are poorly made or glitchy sometimes become cult classics simply because they’re so fun to play.

So while the first three game principles are really important, the fourth and last point of fun is the most crucial of all. That’s why truly magnificent games cannot be based on data alone, they have to have heart, as that’s where the fun comes from. Think about the first time you played a game that opened your mind as a kid: capture that sense of wonder, and let it govern how you implement the principles of game design.

These are the key principles of game design that you need to implement to be successful, but what other aspects of game creation are you thinking about? There’s never been a greater captive market for gaming technology. Are you thinking about creating a game this year? Let us know, we’d love to hear about how you fare with the basics of game design, and remember, have fun!