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How psychology can affect and influence game design

In a recent design test that I had received, I was asked a simple question — “What is a toy, and what is a game and what is the difference between the two?”. While the design test had a time limit and needed to be submitted, this question managed to give me a few sleepless nights after that. There was no way that the answer could be in the half-page theory I submitted, so I will be attempting it here again.

A toy, by its definition — “an object for children to play with”

A game, by its definition — “an entertaining activity or sport, especially one played by children, or the equipment needed for such an…


Taking your game’s experience to 1.0.

In the decade of the past, games were getting access to breathing room in development with being able to push out updates and patches instead of burning it all into a single, and importantly an unchanging, disc. This age of not being forced into one-stop retail sale has allowed developers to tweak, patch, and fix their games post-launch to ensure the appropriate reaction to player feedback. Many games have got balanced after launch, even further have managed to change core aspects based on feedback. This decade has brought in a new trend — the Early Access. This allows the developers to make even fewer design mistakes at launch, because it allows involving users in the development process. Users can be involved from every step between the drawing board to a version 1.0 …


The freedom and fun of moving through large spaces

As technology has grow to be the super fast, super efficient version of today, so have our game worlds. It’s possible to render billions of triangles, render lighting, render geometry and collisions, have hundreds of interactive objects, and showcase a variety of visual and functional materials.

Comparing Video Game maps

While worlds inside video games are getting larger and larger, their density varies based on the genre and themes. The increase in quality of art, level design, and visual storytelling now requires level designers to create sparse and empty locations where players can take in the beauty of the worlds they inhabit. The empty, barren spaces of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have a function in the world — to create a sense of mystery and exploration, or to simple bring some spatial serenity. The physical space of Red Dead Redemption 2 may be sparse to showcase the sense of wilderness yet untouched by civilisation, but the world is anything but sparse. Both these games are sandboxes with a highly complex ruleset in which the players can create their own joy, which is supplemented by the overarching level design of the world. Every mountain, valley, cliff, street, village, or structure can be explored. …


Helping players recall easily — using Gestalt principles, motion design, and Art

Lately, I’ve been addicted to a strategy game called Heroic from Nordeus. It’s got a great byte-sized gameplay loop, a nice selection of game modes, PvP and PvE elements. They even throw in various heroes, minions and equipment to collect and upgrade with their own unique functional and narrative reasons to exist. Even the game modes have a variety of things to do, from PvP duels with a progression to system to a chapter by chapter campaign, even PvE style raids against bosses. And with the control required over all these things, the game undoubtedly has a lot of resources to hand out to players. …


This is a case study to understand how nuances and flavours of UI elements are used to help immersion of players with respect to the expected fantasy and experience. It hopes to analyse a specific UI element in this regard — the weapons wheel.

Many action-adventure games rely on the feeling of thrills via bullets, fire, grenade, more bullets, and gigantic booms. The way to enable all these is to offer a massive arsenal, from machetes to assault rifles all the way till bazookas.

With game having evolved as a medium, sub genres have evolved within the space. What was considered as action games are now classified under open-world action games, linear action adventure games, cover-shooter game, and much more. Open world games are punctuated by sequences of linear set-pieces, linear games have sprawling sandbox levels in them. The nuances that have developed with the branches and evolution of media are staggering. …


Trade Fort is an app for casual and avid virtual goods traders based on the game Team Fortress 2. It offers a virtual marketplace for all kinds of commerce activities for people who want to buy and sell using the different in-game currencies and real money.

As a long time fan of Team Fortress 2 and someone who trades often, not only in this game but many games on Steam, I wanted to take up making this concept app as an exercise to attempt to make trading a better experience. The main problem I hoped to tackle was the detachment of “playing the game” experience and the “trading” experience and find a way for both of them to be a simultaneous experience with the playing the game serving as the primary experience.

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This case study presents my personal views on what could be improved in the User Experience of the 2017 PS4 exclusive game Horizon Zero Dawn

Step 1 : To identify problems

To create a basis for this case study, I have come up with a list of prevalent issues that users faced when tasked with certain objectives in the game menu:

  • Information Architecture in certain sections
  • Redundancy of information amongst multiple panes in the user flow
  • Identification problems with the iconography

Step 2 : Research, Needfinding and Validation

Without the resources to conduct any large scale quantitative research, I will be doing qualitative research with a small focus group

Step 3 : Proposing alternatives, changes or tweaks

By the end of this case study, I hope propose a set of changes that will attempt to remedy aforementioned problems. These propositions will be done via mock-ups and prototypes. …


This is a case study I did to understand what makes this extremely active, action filled rogue-lite game tick without it’s on -screen HUD being intrusive.

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This was the original screenshot that inspired me to make this case study. Since the game is in Early Access, the devs have made a few key changes since that screenshot was taken.

When I picked up the intent to try my hand at redesigning this, I wanted to try a system of hiding away the extra Boons (the special abilities in the game, on the left side) altogether. By the time I started this redesign, the devs had actually implemented a similar system along with dynamic organisation of the icons.

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Analysing a cult classic on how the physical interface can contribute to achieving a fun flow graph

(Be sure to check out the web hosted prototype and a link to try it out yourself at the end)

Video games are essentially systems that take user input and make changes to the system states based on rules. The user input can be be a variety of objectives or needs, from simple locomotion to coordinating complex and multiple game mechanics. …


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Into one tidy package!

(Be sure to check out the web hosted prototype and a link to try it out yourself at the end)

When it comes to action oriented, high paced, and dynamic First Person Shooter games, being rapid and quick is really useful. Being the first to land some damage is always an advantage, but being the quickest to move on your feet (or with your entire body) is equally essential. Not only does it bring you closer to the action or take you out of a sticky situation, it also adds another layer of thrill in the form of being in-charge of your personal roller-coaster. …

Bramha Dalvi

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