I’m going to talk about some of the things that we consider important when developing games. If you want to know more about our process and what’s important to us, this is the place! Our design philosophy has matured a lot with time and no doubt will continue to. Often, learning something new forces the introduction or emphasis of a new idea. Hopefully this offers you some useful insight into the thinking behind a Miracle Tea game.
We want our games to say something. To mean something to someone and feel meaningful. To be real and honest and authentic and personal. To reflect the human experience. To question how someone thinks. To be memorable. Even if it’s just one person that takes any of this away from our games, that’s all that really matters us.
When designing, we prioritise the emotional response above all else. It’s arguably the most important thing. All the matters is how our players feel, once we know what emotions we want to create, we start studying and prototyping ways of achieving that. The very best game designers are those that know how to juggle all different types of emotional responses. Knowing which ones complement each other and which ones leave a bitter taste to send players on an emotional roller coaster ride.
We’re try to get to the essence of our idea throughout development. Often, that means adding components just to take them away. Anything that doesn’t compliment or support the core is usually not needed. Embracing the removal of content that doesn’t reflect the essence can sometimes be tough and discouraging. We’ve found though, that embracing this gets us closer to that thing we’re trying to communicate with much more elegance and grace. We’ll go into more detail about core pillars in design in a more fleshed out post in the future, so look out for that!
We imagine our players to be forward thinking open minded and intelligent individuals with their own thoughts. We try to not pander or come off condescending. We try not to hand hold and to let players discover things for themselves. We try to make them feel special and let them know that we made this game just for them.
We’re a very small team, it’s important to remind ourselves of this fact. A part of that territory means we have to be wary of our capabilities in what it is we make. Embracing our limitations often results in creative solutions to solving problems. Though, we’re not shy about pushing something as far as we possibly can – especially in terms of design!
It’s useful to listen to people’s suggestions. Though, sometimes this can throw a curve ball of confusion into the vision of what you’re trying to say which can be paralysing. It’s most useful when it comes usability. We take on board feedback, digest, interpret and meditate on it before we ever act. Acting too quickly isn’t always productive for us. If you listened and acted on everyone’s feedback, you’d never get anything done and you’ll never have work that is interesting or that pushes evolves the video game medium forward.
We try to communicate ideas with visuals rather than overtly making things obvious or defining the gist to them. Meaning we don’t report on a character feeling shy or cute, we show this through their actions! This is the key to rousing players emotions allowing them to step into someone’s shoes and experience their feelings.
“If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.” -Alfred Hitchcock
In our games, we don’t like to bombard our players with many ideas or visual elements at once. Doing so can feel overwhelming and cause confusion. Confusion leads to frustration. Frustrations leads to immersion being broken. Immersion being broken leads to people walking away. We break our gameplay/visuals down into chunks and gradually introduce more components overtime. This is especially true when it comes to tutorialising.
Time is all we have. It’s a real treat to have people devoting their time into something you’ve made. When you consider the ethical ramifications of making games, you quickly realise how much of an impact you could potentially have. Your creation could be played by thousands if not millions of people in its lifetime. That time is precious. If the position of a button takes a fraction of a second longer to load or it’s hard to find, that will ultimately add up to hours of wasted time for humanity that could’ve been spent elsewhere.
We want to make video games well into the later stages of our life. This means that we need to learn to sustain ourselves over a long period of time. We’re in this for the long haul. Whenever work is too much, we take the time we need to recover. This is very important. We’ve pushed ourselves to the point of knowing where our limits our and whenever we teeter on that, we reign it in. Our projects take as long as they need. As a result, we’re happier and healthier and still making games.
Having an inflated ego is a killer a deal breaker and often a real turn off. The moment I start thinking I know it all or have the answers I try to tap into the part of me that is observing myself to consider why I’m saying what I’m saying. Freud called it the superego. Usually it’s tied to wanting to one up someone in some hypothetical game or competition I’ve made up in my head. Ultimately, it’s seeking for approval or gratification. Acting on that makes me realise it’s just an extension of my insecurities and believing it stunts my growth. It feels redundant and unproductive and surface level. Being grounded through self-awareness is a trait I really admire in people.
Spending all day indoors hunched over a PC staring at a screen that’s spewing radiation into your face can sometimes feel very soul draining and inhuman. No matter how much we love making and playing video games, we try to stay balanced by hanging out in nature, touching soil and exploring the world. Having down time and switch off is an important part of the creative process as it tends to supplement deep work.
Having a design philosophy, especially if you’re pursuing creative work, is vital. It lays the foundations of intent in your work and opens the doors of potential in the pursuit of goals with greater purpose. It’s something that all game developers who are starting out should work to define. You’d be surprised at how many developers never seem to consider this kind of stuff or just shrug off its value. At first, it perhaps doesn’t really matter what your design philosophy is, so long as you have one. All that matters is that you’re thinking about why you’re doing what you’re doing and what’s important to you as a person.