From Will Wright's MasterClass

The Fundamentals of Game Design

Meet your new instructor: Will Wright, visionary game designer behind The Sims. In your first lesson, you’ll learn the core tenets of Will’s multidisciplinary game design process.

Topics include: What Are Games? • Take a Multidisciplinary Approach • Explore Branching Paths of Decisions • Embrace Constraint • Design Beyond Zero-Sum Games • Expand Player Creativity

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Meet your new instructor: Will Wright, visionary game designer behind The Sims. In your first lesson, you’ll learn the core tenets of Will’s multidisciplinary game design process.

Topics include: What Are Games? • Take a Multidisciplinary Approach • Explore Branching Paths of Decisions • Embrace Constraint • Design Beyond Zero-Sum Games • Expand Player Creativity

Will Wright

Teaches Game Design and Theory

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Preview

All of us are set in our own little world view. We think we see the big picture, but we all see a little slice of the world surrounding the lens. I would like to imagine that people have the opportunity to see a much wider set of perspectives on the world, and that games might be the mechanism, the vehicle brings that to them. We can take almost anything and make it a fascinating interactive experience. What I'm really doing is, I'm giving the player a toy, and the player is turning it into a game. Every designer has the opportunity to create something incredibly unique. At the same time, every designer faces the risk of creating something that no one will be able to understand. As a designer, you're actually dealing with two computers. First, the electronic one, sitting on the table in front of you. But more importantly, the player's imagination, the player's brain. And that one is far more complex, and we have barely scratched the surface of it. During the course of this class, I'm going to expose you to a number of kind of fundamental concepts about game design. Basically psychology of the player, the mental modeling that goes on; how to use game mechanics as part of your tool set, and how to develop your tool set as a designer; how to think about the overall structure of what's going on underneath the hood; how to build emergence, surprise, cool, detailed worlds; and to try to predict what's going to motivate players of your games and pull them in, and get them emotionally involved to the point where they get into communities that are built up around these. And so there are many different levels of game design, and we're going to kind of start with the fundamentals and work our way outwards towards larger and larger more strategic levels of thinking around it. Every designer is unique in some way, and my games have tended to be very specific in terms of real world simulations generally-- games that tend to encourage player creativity, player storytelling. There are a lot of other approaches to game design. But I think a lot of the fundamentals that I'll be talking about in this class are going to be things that can apply to any genre of game. And I think by going down to that fundamental level, it's going to give you a lot more opportunities to kind of come up with creative inspiration to bring in new approaches, new ideas. Basically, how to amplify your own internal creativity in ways that are coming from a fundamental level rather than just the feature level. I'm Will Wright, and this is a simulation-- a simulation-- a simulation-- of my MasterClass. So you're probably watching this because you have an interest in games. But what are games? We all know what games are. We play games. More recently with electronic devices, games have taken a totally different kind of turn and gotten much more elaborate, more ubiquitous in our lives, I think. But games really are something that have been around for thousands of years. Different...

Explore the Possibility Space

Learn the art and science of game design with Will Wright, the mind behind SimCity and The Sims. In this game design class, Will teaches you how to create games that empower players and unleash their imagination. You’ll develop a tool set for understanding player psychology, as well as learn Will’s approach to generating and pitching ideas, prototyping, playtesting, and building a community.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I am one of the co-founders of Adventure Aide. The lessons have helped me and my team understand a bit more about how to make our app feel more like a game to our users and the communities that are forming within our network. Thank you!

Great start to what I hope will be a window into a new world

I'm interested in applying game techniques to a business application we're working on with firefighters. I found this class very inspirational and intstructive for my project. Thanks.

Will Wright is a genius! Watching this a single time is probably not enough because I take notes all the time. One of the best classes for me!

Comments

Molly E.

My favorite part of the Sims was always designing the houses and then decorating them. I'm interested to see how he thinks about building these worlds and the rules in the games.

Robert S. D.

Best Course I ever taken in Game Design. Such a cool teacher and pioneer in game making. Please fix the Diploma glitch bug MasterClass. I have watched ALL chapters many times over. Still cannot have my diploma for this course. Thank you for the course though! Invaluable for my game creative future. For anyone's game creation future! Thank you Will Wright! One day I hope to thank you in person with a game of my own in my hand. Or at least a great concept prototype!

Eudes M.

Sims - getting to max cook level Game concept In Cooking Academy, players take the role of normal people that want to learn how to cook delicious dishes. Players will get a goal to achieve at their chosen class, take classes, get ingredients and learn how to cook delicious meals. Any player that achieve the goal of its class will win against the game and the player who achieve its goal in the best possible way will be the number one student of Cooking class. Win states Completing your goal card makes you win against the game Getting the highest note on you goal card makes you the number one student of Cooking Class Lose states Not completing your goal card makes you lose against the game Not getting the highest note on your goal card makes you lose against the other players. Hope to get some feedback and also help by sharing how i approached this assignment.

Eryn B.

I joined masterclass for the writing classes and thought this would be one of the last things I'd ever be interested in watching. Goes to show that you need to go beyond your comfort zone and explore outside your interests! This is all so interesting!

James P.

People do not realize the historical perspective behind games. Native Americans solved many of our intertribal issues using games notably Stickball. Disputes between villages or tribes were more likely to be settled by stickball than the great expense war depletes blood and treasure for families and tribes. War was not as predominant fact of life as historians. Stickball was a suitable alternative substitute. Opposing tribes gathered their teams then camped on one end of the chosen field while the other tribe took up an opposite position that could extend to a couple of miles. Warriors from both tribes would ride back and forth taunting the other tribe at all hours of the day or night. Players would begin their fast abstaining from certain foods and only drinking herb teas provided by Shamans. Betting and food tables were set up for both teams to wager anything from trinkets to horses, wives, and even children. People outside the tribes were also allowed to watch and bet. Before the game began, the disputed issue between the two tribes is determined as that game’s greatest trophy. Losing team must accept defeat honorably and agree to the victor’s claim. Majority of the time this was the honorable solution to avoid war unless a tribe felt cheated then a war would start. The night before the contest both tribes would feast and honor their players. Shaman would bless the players and notch their sticks (kapucha) to draw more blood from their opponents. The players would be worked up in a frenzy of anger that would maximized shortly before the game started. There was great pageantry in pre-game by both tribes slowly walking their teams in a parade. Teams would begin jeering and taunting the other team as would spectators. Women and children would gather along the ‘sidelines’ to assist with injured players. A Shaman would throw the ball (towa) into the air to being each quarter of time. Today it is four 15 minutes quarters. In the past the game could go on as long as 12 hours of daylight. The length of the game and scoring limits were established before the game began. Shaman and medicine men were coaches on the sidelines. Stickball is a uniquely North American and one of the oldest recorded team sports. It is a tradition belonging to tribes of the United States and Canada. After a bloody match in 1892 by two tribes settling a dispute, US Gov’t made it illegal to hold the matches without deputy marshals to prevent outrageous cruelty and violence. The game played today is not that different than the historical version as far as game rules. Today’s contests are held on football fields with ‘poles’ set up at each end of the field.

Hrachia S.

Games Played I have been playing games for a long time, and my memories of them have been rekindled due to this assignment. Some of the examples include Simcity, The Sims, Sim Ant, All the C&C’s and Red Alerts, StarCraft and the Original RTS of Warcraft games, Black and White, Dust, Annon, Incredible Creatures, Spore, Sim Earth, No Man's Sky, Afterlife, Civilization games, Plague Inc…, Age of Wonders, Simulators like Flight, Train, Truck, etc… What I found happens is just like how it was when I was playing with toys as a kid my mind finds a narrative. A story for why these things are doing what they’re doing. It becomes a story, a different world that I am observing and participating in. Game Concept Idea Go Green, An Earth Saving Experience. Coming close to becoming extinct we need to fight against the clock to save our planet. Develop technology to battle the devastation that humans left behind. Save wildlife in trouble, replant vegetation and coral, save animals. Clean ocean from plastics, clean land from pesticides etc… Bring life back onto the planet. Chairs Foldable metal chair They’re cheap to produce, are foldable, save a lot of space very lightweight, and you can stack them in a corner or on top of each other for easy storage. You can move them easily from place to place. The loss in these cost-effective chairs are comfortable, and aesthetics. Gaming Chair Very much focusing on comfort, aesthetics, mobility, support of back, and ability to recline. It goes around the moderate area with cost, great material, with beautiful stylish details, medium in weight. Can take up more space than required, so will have to space them out one per desk. Artist Made Chairs eg. The Dragon Chair Beauty is one of the main aspects of these chairs, highly focused on aesthetics, details, material, It’s one of a Kind Comfort seems to be there, however, it's more of a statement piece. Chairs unreasonably expensive, and looks extremely heavy to move.

Bud L.

My first thought when seeing these chairs was yuck. But after taking the time to follow through on the 'thought' expirement on paper. I started to like Verner for his goals. Cheap, durable, portable, aesthetic different but modern. Breuer seemed like some horrid middle ground, ugly yet not as cheap, durable, easy to clean or modern as Verner. And Eames seemed like the most comfortable, but now I get why you wouldn't want an office or public space full of them, hard to manuever, hard to clean and non very stackable. It was worth the time to do this exercise!

XHXIAIEIN

Hi, everyone. The Player cannot download subtitles. So I extracted it. I wanna to download the subtitle and translate it, so that I can read. And I will share with you here. --- # Chapter 01: The Fundamentals of Game Design WILL WRIGHT: All of us are set in our own little world view. We think we see the big picture, but we all see a little slice of the world surrounding the lens. I would like to imagine that people have the opportunity to see a much wider set of perspectives on the world, and that games might be the mechanism, the vehicle brings that to them. We can take almost anything and make it a fascinating interactive experience. What I'm really doing is, I'm giving the player a toy, and the player is turning it into a game. Every designer has the opportunity to create something incredibly unique. At the same time, every designer faces the risk of creating something that no one will be able to understand. As a designer, you're actually dealing with two computers. First, the electronic one, sitting on the table in front of you. But more importantly, the player's imagination, the player's brain. And that one is far more complex, and we have barely scratched the surface of it. During the course of this class, I'm going to expose you to a number of kind of fundamental concepts about game design. Basically psychology of the player, the mental modeling that goes on; How to use game mechanics as part of your tool set, and how to develop your tool set as a designer; How to think about the overall structure of what's going on underneath the hood; How to build emergence, surprise, cool, detailed worlds; And to try to predict what's going to motivate players of your games and pull them in, and get them emotionally involved to the point where they get into communities that are built up around these. And so there are many different levels of game design, and we're going to kind of start with the fundamentals and work our way outwards towards larger and larger more strategic levels of thinking around it. Every designer is unique in some way, and my games have tended to be very specific in terms of real world simulations generally--games that tend to encourage player creativity, player storytelling. There are a lot of other approaches to game design. But I think a lot of the fundamentals that I'll be talking about in this class are going to be things that can apply to any genre of game. And I think by going down to that fundamental level, it's going to give you a lot more opportunities to kind of come up with creative inspiration to bring in new approaches, new ideas. Basically, how to amplify your own internal creativity in ways that are coming from a fundamental level rather than just the feature level. I'm Will Wright, and this is a simulation-- a simulation-- a simulation-- of my MasterClass. --- ## What Are Games? So you're probably watching this because you have an interest in games. But what are games? We all know what games are. We play games. More recently with electronic devices, games have taken a totally different kind of turn and gotten much more elaborate, more ubiquitous in our lives, I think. But games really are something that have been around for thousands of years. Different cultures have played games-- board games, social games-- for a long, long time, for a lot of reasons. Games, really, right now have different genres. We have things like puzzle games, first person shooters, strategy games. These are different subsets of the game space. But games really are a subset of a larger thing called play. Play is just exploring. Its experimenting. It's trying different things, usually in some symbolic representation. You know, some little toy of the real world with a very low cost for failure. In a lot of ways, I think games have been somewhat misaligned. We've associated games with violence. You know, it's something that little kids play. But that's actually been true of any kind of new media that's come along. In any kind of media-- you know, radio was actually looking down on film when film became popular. Film looked down on television. Television looked down at games. So it's really-- games are the up and coming thing that in some sense is breaking boundaries, doing new things. And that's what makes games interesting to me, is kind of a topic as a medium. Games borrow from so many other different design fields, you know. Not just entertainment, you know, storytelling, things like that, but also things like architecture, product design, fine art, mathematics, cognitive psychology. Games incorporate all these different design fields in an interesting way. And the more you can expose yourself to these different design fields, the better a designer you'll be. --- ## Take a Multidisciplinary Approach I think game design is probably one of the most challenging design fields there is. And I think to be a good game designer, you first and foremost have to be a good designer. And so I think just, you know, getting into the idea of the mode of thinking of, you know, how does a designer think, how do they learn, where they pull inspiration from. And don't close yourself into just the gaming world, you know, look at all sorts of things all over. I've learned so much from weird fields like, you know, Japanese gardening, or biology, or economics, whatever, You can pull all these things in, you know, and as a designer, use these as parts of your creative palette. One of the things that I really would inspire--try to inspire up and coming game designers to do is, think how do I learn continually? You know, from other people, learn from myself, my own mistakes. But then also, just do it. Try it, you know. You can do something as simple as design a little game on a piece of paper and go show your friend, let's play this game, here are the rules. See-- you know, see how that works out. And the more you're doing that, just always inventing little games, you know, even if it's with toothpicks on a tabletop, you're going to learn a lot that way. And that's much better than just, you know, sitting in your head for two years coming up with your master design, and then one day trying to realize it and finding out that it's too complex to realize. You'll be much better off doing continual, ubiquitous, everyday kind of local game design. --- ## Explore Branching Paths of Desicions Any designer, basically, when they're designing something, has to look at a number of factors. You know, basically you're trying to balance all these things against each other. So think about just a chair and all of the different things that you kind of would like a chair--you know, different properties you would like from a chair. You want it to be, you know, cheap, easy to move, easy to produce, comfortable. And these functions can actually be kind of broken down into a tree, you know. So games have very much the same property. You know, there's certain functional things about them. There's certain things that are economic about-- what does it take to produce the game? How much does it cost? What kind of a team do I have to build? What kind of skills do I have to have as a designer? And the designer needs to kind of understand how to balance all these different things against each other, because your final design is going to be a balancing act. You're basically balancing all these plates on top of each other, and it's the designer's job to make them balance well. Now, as you're exploring your design, you're actually going through this very large branching tree of possible designs. You know, there are infinite number of designs that you could be building in your game, and you can end up with one very specific design. And when you start out, you might have some sense about where you're going or kind of the area you want to be, but you do not know exactly how to get there. And you're basically exploring this branching path of design decisions, you know, starting with very fundamental design decisions. You know, what kind of a game am I Making? What's it about? What are the controls? Down to very incremental design decisions. You know, what color is this button? You know, how tall is the character?Very, very minor things. And a lot of these decisions are distributed throughout your team. And you need to make sure that your team kind of understands the vision so that as they're balancing their little parts of that tree, that they are in line with the creative vision for the whole product. Basically, as you're exploring this tree, there are a lot of different methods you have as a designer for figuring out which direction to go on what branch. Now, you're really trying to prune these branches as efficiently as possible. That's why when we build a prototype we want an answer from that prototype. We want to find out, you know, do we go down path A or B? If the prototype can't answer that, it's basically failed as a prototype. So we're really trying to efficiently prune the branches and continue down the right path toward our final design. You know, as I said, you don't know exactly where you're going to end up on this tree, but the designer also needs to kind of know when you've gotten there. A lot of times, I've seen, you know, game designs, or even other designs where somebody went a little bit too far, you know. They, you know-- Some movies, you know, I think had a perfect ending, went a little bit too far. And the designer needs to kind of know you've hit the sweet spot. --- ## Embrace Constraint One of my design heroes is Charles Eames. Charles and Ray Eames were a design team, husband and wife. And he had a great quote, which was simply that "design is constraint." You know, design really is how do you, you know, work around constraint. And without constraint, there's no design, you know, it's just pure imagination. So, you know, to be a good designer, you have to kind of embrace that constraint and say, okay, within this constraint, what can I do that's really cool? And, you know, that constraint is really going to become your foundation. It's going to be, okay, here was my starting point, and within that constraint I was able to do this. The constraint could be, you know, the technology in front of you, how fast the processor, the graphics. But the constraint can also be, you know, what does my player know? What kind of skills do they have? Where does their imagination take them? Those are constraints just as well. And the more you understand your constraints, you know, the more you can now kind of use that as your starting point to go off and do something really cool that nobody else has done against those same constraints. --- ## Design Beyond Zero-Sum Games In a competitive game, you know, usually with two players, there's a concept of a zero sum game, which is that if a player wins, he gets, you know, a positive 1. The losing player gets a negative 1. If it's a tie, they both get 0. So basically, the sum of the two players is always 0. You know, either I won, you lost, you know, and it sums to 0, or it was a tie, sums to 0. That's a zero sum game. So you can't have two winners or two losers, you know, out of a two-player game. A non-zero sum game, you can. Both people can win. The kind of games I do are not zero sum games at all. In fact, most of the things I do don't even really have a clear win state. When you play something like "Sim City" or "The Sims," what actually I found very interesting was to leave it to the player to define the null state. When a person sits down to play "Sim City," I don't tell them they have to build the biggest city, or have the happiest people, or the least crime. Players in their own mind decide that. You know, they think, okay, what is, you know, my ideal city? And they try to build that. So the player is actually the one building the rule set and the structure, and the player is the one scoring it. I'm really just kind of giving them an open-ended toy. And then you get a lot of kind of interesting different play styles. You know, certain players trying to achieve things. Other players don't even really try to achieve anything thing at all, but try to use it for creative storytelling or creativity. A lot of people were playing "Spore," not really trying to get through all the levels, but trying to just make really cool things within the game that they would then go out and share with other players. So for them, the win state was more social--kind of make something really cool in this game, maybe even just tell a story that other people really like. And to me, that's the win state. So, you know, I think games have the opportunity to go, you know, way beyond just this kind of zero sum approach. - ## Expand Player Creativity You can take almost any technology that we have and view it as an extension of the human body. For instance, you know, television, telescope--our eyes, our vision. Telephone, you know, our speech. Car really kind of extends our legs. If somebody hits your car, you know, you don't say that, you know, my car was hit, you say, somebody hit me when I was driving, you know. So me--you know, the car becomes me, it becomes an extension of your body. I think that computers and games and things that we're dealing with on the entertainment side can extend a lot of these in a lot of ways. When I was watching players play "The Sims" initially, it was like, he was hungry, then he did this, then he did that, and they very smoothly shifted to--then I got tired and I went to bed, and then I woke up. So they kind of shifted from he to I very smoothly. We now, with these little micro worlds, have the ability to basically externalize what's in our imagination and share it with other people. You know, it used to be that you had have, you know, a very rich skill set, like you had to be a fine artist to do that--you know, to paint something in your imagination and then share it with other people. But now with these tools, the creative leverage they give us, you know, average, casual game players have the ability to externalize, you know, create things out of their imagination, share it with other players, and actually have these shared imaginary worlds. In "Spore," we actually had all these editors where the players were making cool things. In some of the levels, the design of your creature really influenced, you know, the way you would play that creature in the world--its performance. Other parts of it, you know, like designing your spaceship, didn't really have a whole lot to do with the performance of the spaceship, it was purely aesthetic. But people would spend just as much time crafting this very unique thing that was part of their player identity in the game. And as they were playing in the space level, they were, you know, front and foreground all the time with this spaceship. And so they really felt, you know, like that was them. When you get to the space phase, there are actually millions of planets you can go to. And we could never create millions of creatures, so we decided that every time a player made a creature, it would go up to our server and we would use it to populate everybody else's world. And we were hoping to get, you know, maybe 100,000 of these creatures, you know, in the first months, you know, after we'd uploaded the creature editor. Instead, it was so popular that we got a million in the first week. In fact, we passed, I think, five or six million in the first month, which is more than the number of species on Earth. So it was, you know, kind of extraordinary how much players embraced that. Basically, we were turning the average player into a Pixar artist. They were able to create, you know, a brand new character out of their imagination and have it come to life. And so I think that's one of the examples of the computer giving creative leverage--a creative amplifier. And a lot of people are using computers for different creative fields, but same thing--it's a creative amplifier for everything they do. ---

Reza K.

Can someone help please ? Where is the best starting point to become a game designer/developer ?

Nathan M.

I use Design Thinking to create Hyper Personalised Experiences. Thought this class would help me inject some Game Design into our experiences. Get start & very excited.