• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

From Function comes Form!

  • Azzie
  • 03/09/2020 11:25 PM
Welcome back!

This is the next blog on Wonder Robot D's game design. If you’ve missed the first one on the battle system you can check it out here:
blog 1 - Balanced Combat with distinct spells

This entry is about the principle form follows function and how it helped me design Wonder Robot D.

Form follows function
This principle comes from industrial design and means making sure the design of an object matches it function or purpose. e.g. A traffic light displays a green man walking or a red man standing still, this is a design that fulfils the purpose of telling you when it's safe to cross.

I wanted to apply concepts like this to my own game design.

No main character design!
When I first started planning I didn’t even have a concept of what the main character would look like! My idea wasn’t even “A game about a robot and demons”.

It was a concept, a RPG where the main character abilities would be based on items they’ve equipped. I wanted something like adventure games where problems would be solved with weird or everyday items, and to bring these ideas to a RPG battle system.

At that point my idea was a character who draws magic powers and solves problems(battles) using items…but I still didn’t have a character design

A Design from Science!
Much like Science harnesses elements in the natural world to create energy. I thought a machine would be good in a world where magic is natural and thus…Wonder Robot D.

I drew some inspiration from Chibi-Robo and Guz from Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 and came up with a cute and heroic design! See if you can spot what elements I used from each character.

Applying it to gameplay and story
I designed the rest of the game around how each item/spell could be used in battle. The narrative was designed around the ideas of why Robot would be built and what kind of conflicts could occur as a result.

In game you'll see differences in how certain characters react to Robot: Some initially doubt Robot’s abilities, some fearful and others awestruck. Robot eventually proves themselves, causing a shift in opinion as the plot develops.

Later parts of the game include greater conflict unfolding stages of the story and how Robot’s abilities tie into the resolution.

To Conclude
Form Follows function as way of designing a game is a great way to keep a game focused and develop not only character designs, but gameplay and plot ideas around the key mechanics.

Please give Wonder Robot D a try to see it in action!

Thanks for Reading


(Form follows Function concepts had also been cited as being used for how Splatoon developed their characters and the way Nintendo designs Mario games. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto studied Industrial design, perhaps that’s where the idea to apply form from function in videogames originated.)