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.
What are the results, risks, and values?
- Repeat or stop.
- 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?
- 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.
- Arcade: discrete game playthroughs, easy to pick-up, hard to finish.
- Non-linear structure: different paths must generate different situations.
- Battle system: core of the game.
- Platforming: exploration must be good enough on its own.
- 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.
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.