Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Vitruvian Game Design

Vitruvius, thinking about building Architecture, came up with his popular triangle. These are 'Firmitas, Utilitas and Venustas' (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio 'The Ten Books of Architecture' 1st C AD).
Which means: Form, Function and Fabric. Applied to all aspects of architecture and design.

Game design is no exception.

Form in game design would be related to the visual representation of the game world and characters. The game graphics in other words. What we see in a screen shot. Audio can be added to this category also since that is about the audio forms.

Function would be related to the actual game play. The game mechanics that make the game play.

Fabric is the quality of building the form and function, in other words the code which is the foundation for the rest and the quality of this code base.

So every game design can be viewed from these three very important aspects and a good design should have high quality in the three words starting with the letter 'F', the Vitruvian Triad.

One interesting reality which we've found out is the challenge to come up with a design that provides high quality for these three aspects since there isn't a linear sequential relationship between these three and they are all inter-connected. Sometimes increasing the quality of the Form will decrease the Function quality or a specific Function might not have the required quality for its Fabric and so on. It is a tough job deciding where to start from. Design can start from any three, and balancing the quality of the three, in the absence of any existing scientific solutions, is where the whole design process leans more towards being an Art form.

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