Errant Works straying, coding, telling stories since 1337

Method

Don’t write games on paper until they are perfect, build prototypes early.
The more times you test and improve your design, the better the game will be.

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: introduce people to fighting games.
  • Solution: reduce the complexity of execution, focus on decision-making.
  • Risks: too much streamlined for friends that are already into fighting games.
  • Values: easy to pick-up, introduction to a difficult genre.

From Prototypes to Projects

Some questions you should be able to answer if you somewhat 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 easy to pick-up 2D fighting game to introduce people to the genre.
  • Inspirations: Street Fighter IV, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Similar: Fantasy Strike, Pocket Rumble, Rising Thunder.
  • Comparison: a little more complexity, inputs closer to classic fighting games.
  • 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.
  • Open structure: you can choose different paths and it must generate different situations.
  • 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 quick 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.