I love the smell of UnrealEd crashing in the morning. – tarquin
Gameplay is the overall value of a game as it is played. This term is also often used to describe the playability of a distinct part of a game, such as a Mod, a Mutator or a particular map.
Basic Game Elements
All games share similar elements that contribute to gameplay. Although the Unreal game engine provides a basis for these elements by default, an overview of Game Design elements can be useful to modders and mappers alike.
In any game, players must have a clearly defined set of rules to work with. These rules are used by the player to plan ahead and predict opponent moves. The rules of the game provide structure in an situation where the outcome is uncertain.
Chance is a critical part of Game Design. Without some chance or variety involved, the event is a series of predicatble incidents, like watching paint dry, which offers no incentive for the players to engage the rules or develop strategies.
Players need tasks to perform in a game. Examples of tasks include basic human behavior such as hunting, gathering, exploring, trading, and nurturing. In a first-person-shooter like Unreal, the most obvious tasks are hunting and exploring, but examples of item gathering and trading (weapons throwing) are common. An example of nurturing is the energizing of ONS power nodes in UT2004. More complex tasks like puzzle solving can involve a series of simpler tasks building towards a defined goal.
Ultimately the tasks a player engages in are meant to help achieve a goal. The overall goal or objective in a game should be very clear. Lesser goals can be less obvious and left for players to discover as strategies. The buildup of lesser goals towards a larger SuperGoal will help players feel more engaged and satisfied with the tasks they've performed.
Elements of First-Person-Shooter Gameplay
These are some of the more common and important gameplay elements that relate specifically to FPS games.
The ability for each player to make a significant impact on the game and to appreciate each other player's involvement. A game should allow each player to have a significant impact on the game. In CTF, if a defender simply stops playing then the flag is at risk unless one of the attackers falls back to cover that role. This fall back position then reduces the total attack capability of the team.
The ability to work with others to achieve a common goal and to act as a single entity. This is a basic social desire; to belong to a group that will increase chances of success.
An awareness of other player's involvement in the game and the motivation to challenge it. Competition is a basic impulse shared by all humans. Within clearly defined rules, a player is constantly comparing their situation to their opponent's, and attempting to do better.
The awareness of a conflict that involves planning in advance of action. Each game is a unique puzzle for a player to solve. Humans are consumate puzzle-solvers.
The player's ability to modestly alter some rules of play for more strategic opportunities. In well-defined systems set for emergence, some rules or guidlines are available to be modified by the players themselves during play; allowing for strategic action that reveals sub-strategies or tactics.
The ability to discover unknown items, situations or events. A fundamental human need that is based on the idea that there is a possibility for better conditions or circumstances as a result of exploring the unknown.
The ability to escape normal circumstances, situations, and locations. Whether the game simulated or iconic, the world of the game is one in which the player transports themselves to while playing.
The lingering thoughts and emotions related to a game beyond play. This extends the idea of escapism to include the mere thoughts of a game; so that the game persists in the mind of the player long after they have stopped playing.
SuperApe: Revision done. What do you think?