Don't Miss: A game design 101 breakdown of Rez HD

[‘Design Lesson 101’ is a regular column by Raven game designer Manveer Heir. The challenge is to play a game from start to completion – and learn something about game design in the process. This week we take a look at Rez HD, a port for Xbox Live Arcade of the Dreamcast rail shooter.]

On the floor, Rez is nothing greater than a easy on-rails shooter. You can’t management your avatar, solely what you shoot. The degrees are finite, the enemies predictable, and the mechanics easy.

Nevertheless, the builders (headed by unique designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi) have utilized a quantity of visible, aural, and tactile parts within the game to create a surreal expertise that may typically defy rationalization. That is an expertise that goes past simply pure gameplay.

Design Lesson: It’s potential to layer and intertwine easy aesthetics with one another to be able to create a extra partaking participant expertise.

Earlier than I begin speaking concerning the game, I really feel it is essential, greater than most games, to have some understanding of what this game is like. In case you have not performed it, take a look at this video on YouTube or any of the opposite movies of the game out there. It does not exchange truly enjoying the game, however at the least you will perceive the game on a primary degree.

The aural element is probably probably the most vital of the three senses stimulated by the game. Every degree of Rez is predicated round a trance music monitor. Initially of a degree, a really primary beat is established. As you’re employed additional into every degree, the music itself turns into increasingly complicated. The essential beat all the time exists, however now there are further phrases of music which might be extra up-tempo and quick paced, finally creating the ultimate musical monitor of the extent.

By truly beginning with a easy beat and including further layers to the music itself, the game is in a position to attract the participant into its world progressively. Because the music depth will increase, so does the depth of the gameplay itself. It feels pure, by no means jarring, and it is one thing I did not absolutely discover till after I began enthusiastic about what actually made Rez work as a game.

What Rez does subsequent with the audio is the place it turns into fascinating. There are not any particular sound results within the game, a minimum of not within the conventional sense. Moderately, the sounds meld into the music itself, with synthesized sounds enjoying as you shoot that match the encompassing music and really feel like an element of the monitor.

The participant, in consequence, feels as if he’s affecting the music together with the gameplay, somewhat than the music being ancillary. This attracts the participant additional into the game, and makes the sound and gameplay really feel as one cohesive, intertwined unit, as an alternative of separate entities.

The visuals use the sound as a leaping-off level so as to add to the participant expertise. Rez makes use of a really colourful, however geometrically easy visible fashion. The game appears to be made up of easy strains and polygons, so it would not appear there’s all that a lot to be entranced by.

Truly, all the world is in-sync with the audio of the game; the participant avatar throbs with the identical beat of the music; the background of the world flashes and modifications colours in accordance with the musical beat as nicely. Couple this with the colourful explosions, reminiscent of audio visualization algorithms, and also you get a really stimulating, but enjoyable expertise.

The game additionally makes use of the rumble of the controller so as to add a ultimate, tactile, layer to the complete expertise. Because the participant creates havoc on display, the controller rumble matches the game, giving one other suggestions loop to the participant’s senses. Controller rumble is pretty normal of games, however Rez goes one step additional.

It presents “trance vibration”, which on the Xbox Stay Arcade model of the game is realized through the use of further controllers (There was a separate USB peripheral for this in earlier variations of the game). These further controllers will vibrate with the musical monitor and different sounds (thus additionally the visuals) of the game itself, slightly than simply participant actions.

A number of controllers in trance vibration mode create extra distinctive sensations, as totally different controllers are used to vibrate at totally different occasions. The influence of the vibration of the controllers ties the aural and visible elements collectively. You start to really feel the gameplay that happens on display.

Whereas different games stimulate these three senses, Rez is exclusive in the best way it really intertwines and layers them collectively. The idea of seeing the music exists within the game. Whereas enjoying the game, I ended up “zoning out”. I might not fascinated with what I used to be doing, however fairly I simply performed.

The suggestions from the game is such that it drove me into an extra state of calm and meditation, slightly than nervousness and application (one thing many games do). I typically discovered my very own bodily environment disappearing as my acutely aware thoughts turned one with the game.

This made me finally have a really totally different expertise than I’ve had with most games. Most games contain actively considering, processing, and choice making. That did not really feel just like the case in Rez. I used to be definitely nonetheless performing these actions, however I wasn’t occupied with them, fairly I used to be simply doing them. I used to be within the zone. That is finally what was partaking concerning the game.

It is extraordinarily troublesome to debate a game corresponding to this, because of its cerebral nature, however I hope I’ve made an excellent first step. I might love to listen to anybody’s ideas on Rez and the way its parts work collectively to create a singular, partaking participant expertise. With the ability to talk about a game corresponding to that is essential to realize extra understanding of game design, and I really feel I’ve solely scratched the floor with my restricted time to date with the game.

I can say, virtually assuredly, that I’ll play Rez quite a few extra occasions through the years, not solely to have enjoyable and zone out, however to additional perceive what makes the game work so nicely. A lot right here is troublesome to debate with out enjoying the game, so I might make the advice to test it out, in case you can, and see the way it makes you are feeling.

Rez has opened my eyes to raised methods to intertwine aural, visible, and tactile parts collectively to attract the participant additional into the game world. Typically we deal with these as complementary, separate parts in games, however that clearly doesn’t need to be the case.

[Manveer Heir is currently a game designer at Raven Software. He updates his design blog, Design Rampage, regularly. He is interested in thoughtful critique and commentary on the gaming industry.]

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