segunda-feira, 16 de maio de 2016

Missile Command: a game design class in Atari platform

I have played many Atari games in the last weeks. From time to time, I have this nostalgic feeling and I start to remember the good old classics from my childhood. In these “archeological sessions”, I once again played this masterpiece: Missile Command. Well, this one has special importance for me because it’s the very first game that I have ever played in Atari and I can perfectly remember the experience.

Missile Command is a class in game design. Seriously. Everybody that is developing or researching games must, at least one time, play this Atari title. The interface is very simple, but the idea is elegant and instigating: you are in the control of a defense tower and must destroy waves of missiles to protect six cities. The game goes like this: you need to move a crosshair across the screen to launch a counter-missile from the appropriate battery. Before continue the reading, take some minutes to watch the gameplay below and play the game in this online version (click here).

Missile Command
offers some excellent points to discuss the game designing process. Let’s put them in a short list to dwell over:

1) Minimalistic design: with a few pixels is possible to create an instigating gameplay (the game’s cover tells the narrative to the player).

2) Procedural information: stage after stage the missiles become faster. It’s important to understand the patterns of the game to launch the counter-missile in the right place.

3) Elegant game mechanics: point, click and destroy. As simple as that. Missile Command has one interesting and inspiring mechanism. We can reimagine this process in lots of other situations (specially for mobile platforms).

4) Infinite gameplay: Missile Command has no end. You play it until all cities are destroyed. It’s a test for higher rankings, a very common logic in mobile games.

The simplicity from Atari is one point to be highlighted nowadays. In times of extreme complexity in many games, it’s good to look back and find inspiration to create objective, simple and rich new experiences.


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