[In this extensive design article, Chris McEntee, NHTV Game Architecture and Design student — who worked on Rayman Origins as a designer at Ubisoft Montpelier — examines the company’s core design philosophy and explores the techniques used to create the lauded platformer.]
“Rational design is all about eliminating unnecessary information, making things inherently readable, understandable and apparent, introducing mechanics in an orderly and easily digestible fashion, and preserving the learning and difficulty curves of a game, known as macro flow.
In principle, it is best to provide a player with significantly interesting and deep mechanics that are well explored and exploited through clever rationalized level design, rather than injecting the game full of one-shot gameplay mechanics to feign depth. A good mechanic, such as the portal gun in the Valve game Portal, can carry an entire game by itself with the addition of proper gameplay elements to help emphasize the usefulness and depth of the mechanic.
We try, as designers, to overstuff our games with content, ideas and objectives because we think that makes it more clever or fun. I have come to understand the meaning of the three quotes at the top of this page, and fully believe in what they preach. When we rationalize our game systems and keep things simple but deep, we can truly create a good and meaningful gameplay experience that is also efficient for the team and easy to troubleshoot through iterative play-testing. I feel that rationalization is one of the keys to success in the game design field.”