Earlier this month at the Game Developers Conference, Deadly Premonition director, Swery, gave a talk titled “Game Design in the Coffee,” on how to keep players thinking about your game by linking it to real life activities, and how to keep them from growing bored of it. You can read the full talk here, and some of the points we found interesting summarized below.

 

One way Deadly Premonition does this is by highlighting scenes of protagonist, York, doing everyday things, such as eating, sleeping, shaving or lighting up a cigarette. Swery says that the next time you go to bed or you’re eating, you’ll think of Deadly Premonition.

 

Another way to keep players from getting bored with the game is “allowing for a change of heart,” Swery says. There are times when, part of the way through a particular quest in a game, you change your mind and decide you don’t want to do it any more. In most games, backing out of a quest equates to failure. In Deadly Premonition, however, effort was made to allow players to be able to take a break from what they were doing and branch off into something else.

 

This strengthens the sense of freedom and removes the sense of being forced to doing something against your will. This is further reinforced via the game’s script, with York willingly going along with the player’s desire and expressing his agreement through dialogue: "That’s exactly what I was thinking!"

 

As far as characters go, Swery created notes that helped him write up a resumé for Deadly Premonition’s cast. Furthermore, Swery believes it’s important that your character can be mimicked, as, again, this allows fans to mimic them and causes them to think about the game. For this reason, it’s important to give your characters signature styles and poses.

 

It’s also important to give them a negative side, Swery says, as this helps make them more relatable. “In life when we are in love with someone we are actually in love with both the good and the bad sides of that person. We’re in love with that unique blend.”

 

Swery’s talk ended on an interesting note. He touched very briefly upon the kind of games he’s interested in making, and one idea was a game in which every character could become the main character.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and a contributing writer at GamesIndustry.biz. He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.

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