Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's Important When Designing a Game?

Here are important questions to guide you in making a game:

Why are you making this game? What are your goals when making this game?

Why is knowing your goals important? It lets you define a set of boundaries from the sea of possibilities, to make the project a doable task, instead of an abstract idea.

Some examples answers:
  • You are trying out a game mechanic.
  • It is your job.
  • You are experimenting.
  • You are responding to another game you played.
  • You are trying to achieve a certain feel.
  • You are trying to get a game out in a certain amount of time (it happens...).
  • You are trying to make a game work in a certain medium.

Knowing the medium (board, card, computer, online, etc) the game will be in, the # players, the estimated time to play, and so forth, should figure heavily into your answers.

More complex answers might be:
  • I am making a card game because I played a different card game and it was mediocre, and I think I have a better way to do it.
  • I played a game on the computer and it would work better as a board game.
  • I am employed by a computer game company, and they need to make a game to stay in business. Since I am getting no royalties, I will do a good but not great job, in order to retain my paycheck..

Some of my usual goals, which are important to me as a designer, when making a game are:
  • Trying to make it different enough from other games to be worth making.
  • Trying to make it as compact as I can.
  • Trying to make it fun.
I often make partial games to try out mechanics, too.

After asking those initial questions, you can continue to ask more defining questions to help keep your game design clear, such as:
  • How much time do I want it to take to play this game?
  • How many players can play it?
  • What will I do with it once I am done?
  • Will I make derivative works, or sequels to it in the future?