Errant Works straying, coding, telling stories since 1337

Method

Don’t write games on paper until they are perfect, build prototypes early.
Test and iterate on your design, the game will be better for it.

From Ideas to Prototypes

  • Establish a problem you’re trying to solve.
    What does your game aim to do?
  • Find a solution.
  • Prototype it.
  • Rince.
  • Evaluate.
    What are the results, risks, and values?
  • Repeat or stop.

Example

  • Problem: make a console RPG but with a smaller, attainable, scope.
  • Solution: reduce the length, make it replayable.
  • Risks: lose too much of what constitutes a console RPG.
  • Values: to the point, offer new views on the genre.

From Prototypes to Projects

Some questions you should be able to answer if you have a direction.

  • What is your project?
  • What are some inspirations?
  • What are some similar projects?
  • What will your game do very well or different from them?
  • Who are you working with? What is your budget?

Example

  • Project: an arcade version of a console RPG.
  • Inspirations: Dissidia Opera Omnia, Battle Chasers: Nightwar, Indivisible, Mega Man X.
  • Similar: For the King, Dungeon Rushers.
  • Comparison: not a roguelite or roguelike.
  • Means: me (programmer, game designer), earnings of my company.

Find the Pillars

Start with Concepts: genres, philosophies, intents, … Select a handful, describe them with a sentence explaining how the project is influenced by them.

Find the Aesthetics you’re aiming at:

  • Sensation, sense-pleasure.
  • Fantasy, make-believe.
  • Narrative, drama.
  • Challenge, obstacle course.
  • Fellowship, social framework.
  • Discovery, uncharted territory.
  • Expression, self-discovery.
  • Submission, pastime.

Finally, establish your Pillars. They should be drives or over-arching parts linking Concepts and Aesthetics.

Example

Concepts:

  • Arcade: discrete game playthroughs, easy to pick-up, hard to finish.
  • Non-linear structure: different paths must generate different situations.
  • Turn-based battle system: core of the game.
  • Platforming: exploration must be good enough on its own.

Aesthetics:

  • Sensation
  • Challenge
  • Discovery
  • Expression

Pillars:

  • Traversal - platforming - sensation, expression
  • Tactical - battle system - challenge, expression
  • Replayability - arcade, open structure - discovery, sensation

From Ideas to Tasks

When you try to add a mechanic or feature:

  • Why do you want to implement it?
  • Who is gonna benefit from it the most?
  • In which situations will it be active?
  • How the project would be improved by it?
  • How simple is it to explain?

Filter them out if the answers to these questions are not satisfying.

Then try to evaluate it (each component is noted from 1 to 10):

  • Effort = Time + Risk + Cost.
  • Value = Rayonnance + Usability + Depth.

Use Effort and Value to establish priorities.

Example

One button fast invincible reversal.

  • Why: panic button.
  • Who: beginner players.
  • Situation: anytime, but there would be a cooldown or a cost.
  • Improve: add a low execution option.
  • Explanation: trivial.