Mini-Games: Oh What Fun!
Each one of us using these wonderful RPG creation tools has at one point felt the urge to design and implement the world’s greatest most awesomest mini-game that kicks the snot out of past mini-games and punches future games of mini with a set of brass knuckles that says “Falcon PUNCH!” I know I have.
Unfortunately, the world’s greatest mini-game is moot, if there is no reason for the player to take part in this gaming mini-ness.
What is covered:
Definition of a mini-game.
Components to a mini-game.
Tips on making quality mini-games.
What is not covered:
How to make a specific mini-game.
So what IS a mini-game?
Taken and quoted from Wikipedia:
Simple, right? Essentially, it is a game within your game to give the player more options in terms of gameplay, story progression, time filling, and/or item acquisition, etc. etc. Breath of Fire III is a great example, with its use of the “fishing,” mini-game. Players would be able to acquire various bait or lures, and fishing rods. They could then interact with numerous designated fishing spots in order to play the mini-game. They would be able to catch different fish, depending on the combination of bait/lure, rod, and spot. This was sometimes required for story progression, other times used to get rare items, unlock new content, and a great way to pass time.
“A minigame (also spelled mini-game or mini game and sometimes called a subgame) is a short video game often contained within another video game.”
So what MAKES a min-game?
Again, I will use the Breath of Fire III fishing mini-game as an example, hereby dubbed “fishing game” for this tutorial. The fishing game
can be broken down into components. Note, these are general, used only to get the point across. I’ll try not to go into too much detail, so as the main topic of this tutorial can be still be applied. These include:
Objectives:Purpose and/or goal(s) of the fishing game. Not to be confused with Rewards.
Requirements:Gear, event, and/or circumstance related requirements to access the fishing game.
Mechanics:How the fishing game is played/works.
Rewards:Rewards for successful attempts or completion of the fishing game.
As you can see, there are some key ingredients to a mini-game dish.
Objectives, requirements, mechanics, and rewards.
Each component is equally important, and depends on the others to create a fully functional and memorable mini-game.
The objective is the main purpose of the mini-game. Also, this is where the goals are, often seemingly small, such as catching a fish. However, that seemingly small objective was the defining point of the mini-game. Had the goal been instead to bake muffins, the entire mini-game itself would have changed, and no longer been a fishing mini-game.
The requirements are the limitations, such as requiring an item to activate, being at a certain area in the world, talking to the right person, etc. These requirements give the initial challenge of the mini-game, and can make great side-quest type material. They also are often used to prevent a player from accessing the mini-game too soon in the story.
The mechanics are how the mini-game works. They are the inner workings, the gears that turn. The process that forms the mini-game’s start to finish actions. Everything from button presses and timing events, to how things are calculated.
Rewards. Here it is, the big kahuna, the final result of the mini-game, and usually perceived as the main reason for playing mini-games. These are usually in the form of rare or unique items, but can be anything from new party members to quests opening up. The rewards can be tricky, you don’t want to give overly powerful items to the players to soon in the game, or give them weak items later in the game.
So you have a grasp of what a mini-game is, the core components to making one, and have an idea for a mini-game in mind, great! Before you go building this epic addition to your game… stop. Ask yourself why? Why are you adding that mini-game to your project?
How do you make a QUALITY mini-game?
How does it affect your game? How will the players view it? Does the overall objective of the game match the atmosphere of your main game? Does it blend well in terms of theme? For example, if your game is following a darker theme would it be natural to see a baking mini-game? Is it something the characters would do, as in is it feasible to see the battle-hardened, spell-wielding whirling death God of a main character frosting cupcakes? For the record, I have nothing against baking mini-games! They just seemed like a good example…
A good rule of thumb is, if the mini-game doesn’t fit the world, the characters, or the overall theme of the game, then you might want to re-think it. You as the creator may think the mini-game is the bee’s knees and everyone will absolutely love it, but if it doesn’t fit right in the game, then the player will notice it immediately, and usually view it in a more negative tone.
Just because you realized that your mini-game doesn’t fit your game, doesn’t mean you can’t take some of those concepts and make a new one that does work! Instead of fishing with a rod and bait, try dynamite instead.Instead of fishing, what about using guns for hunting and the rewards are the animal parts? Instead of baking, what about alchemy? Have an emo main character? Try implementing a poem writing mini-game based off collected snippets found throughout the world!
A mini-game should fit the characters, world, and theme like a puzzle piece, like something the PLAYER would naturally see in the environment, and something the PLAYER can see the characters doing. Mini-games are fun to make, and if done right can add loads of enjoyable playing time along with opportunities for gameplay development. If done wrong though, they can be a confusing and unsightly mess the player will likely not be coming back to for seconds.
Edited by TrogButtz, 22 April 2012 - 03:06 PM.