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-   -   How do you start designing a game? (http://www.gamecareerguide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5872)

rvalenzuela 05-11-2012 07:54 AM

How do you start designing a game?
 
This is not a question asking for help, is more of a question to learn popular opinion.

When you want to design a game from zero, how do you start?

-From the beginning of the story?
-From an event that would be epic to experience in a game?
-From the looks of a character and then create a story around it?
-From a personal experience?

Example: I read somewhere that David Jaffe designed God of War thinking of "Epic Events" and then attached them together through the Story.

I would like to know your answers!

bob 05-11-2012 01:57 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
My process lately is: I think of something that I find enjoyable, an experience or activity, and then try to think of how you could make a video game that captures that.

A game I'm working on right now is essentially PONG, but played with a group of people, and as people get eliminated they become spectators and watch/comment on the remaining matches.

I realized that I enjoyed playing video games more when people were watching me, and so tried to make a game that revolved around it.

Your example approaches all seem to be talking about the plot of a story, rather than game mechanics. If you used those approaches, you could come up with a story, but you still wouldn't have a game. At that point you'd need to invent the mechanics of your game.

I'm of the opinion that games do better when they aren't trying to tell a specific story. Other artforms do that better. I think games are best when you create a set of rules, and let players just go to town with it. If you have interesting rules, then players will begin to create their own stories by doing interesting/meaningful things in the game.

For example, Halo had really deep mechanics that allowed for all kinds of awesome stuff to happen in a match. Specifically, the multiplayer: Epic rocket launcher shots, harrowing escapes in Capture the Flag, huge killing sprees, etc. And it was always a result of player choice - it wasn't a scripted event written by the developers. I think because the players could feel like they had complete ownership of what happened in those matches, it was more meaningful to them. Just like some crappy Flash game has more significance to its creator than an epic AAA blockbuster, simple stories can be more meaningful than epic sci-fi arcs if you feel like you contributed in a real sense to them. Every moment playing Halo with my friends where something totally awesome happens that has everyone yelling, that's the players creating their own stories.

bob 05-11-2012 06:41 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
Hey all you lurkers. Stop lurking and join the discussion. Seriously, you will enjoy yourself.

EvilLlama 05-11-2012 11:03 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
1) What is the core of the game? Is there anything specific I want the player to feel/experience when making this? An easy way to decide the core is to make the elevator pitch: if you can sum up your game into one sentence, what would it be?

2) What mechanics support this core? What engine/program best supports these mechanics? What visual style supports this core? What are the most important sound effects+music that support this core?
If game has a story: what are the most crucial events and emotional beats I want the story to hit? How do I control branching? How do the mechanics/art/audio support this story? How does the story provide context for the mechanics/art/audio?

3) What is the scope? How long will I work on this game? What skills do I contribute, and what skills do I need from potential teammates?

4) Since I'm artist, sometimes I draw concept art of a still of the game and ask people that given this were on screen what they would do/try. This helps me figure out the most important things to communicate via UI and/or tutorial.

5) Make game. Bug test. Iterate. Playtest. Iterate. Playtest. Iterate. Repeat until investment spent on further fixes does not have enough bang for the buck.

bob 05-12-2012 05:50 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
Hey Evillama,

Do you have a process for deciding what the core of your game is going to be?

rvalenzuela 05-15-2012 08:15 AM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bob (Post 28334)
Your example approaches all seem to be talking about the plot of a story, rather than game mechanics. If you used those approaches, you could come up with a story, but you still wouldn't have a game. At that point you'd need to invent the mechanics of your game.

I'm of the opinion that games do better when they aren't trying to tell a specific story. Other artforms do that better. I think games are best when you create a set of rules, and let players just go to town with it. If you have interesting rules, then players will begin to create their own stories by doing interesting/meaningful things in the game.

I completely understand you, but I think your reply is more from a multiplayer point of view.

For example, Indigo Prophecy and Heay Rain both try to tell a specific story, almost all adventure games do this and end up being really good games.

I think all kind of games can be good, short story, long story, general or specific. It all depends on certain factors and how they are combined (story and gameplay, gameplay and graphics, etc.)

The game you are working on sounds cool, I also enjoy being watched while I play.

bob 05-15-2012 10:16 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
I don't think its a multi-player vs single-player thing.

I mean, I hear Diablo 3 has pretty good story-telling in it. That can be a multiplayer thing. Same with the new Star Wars MMO.

I guess my problem is basically, I feel like we are still discovering how to tell stories in games. I think most games do it poorly. For instance, I thought LA Noire was a really weird mishmash of movie and game. The cutscenes would last multiple minutes, and were really good, and made me want them to not end... but when they did end, I was no longer in game-playing mode. I wanted to watch a movie!

Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a game with a cool story. It really let you discover the story as you went and never drowned you in exposition like a lot of games do. And the story was very subtle. And of course Portal is another game with a great story.

So you're right that games can have stories, but a lot of AAA games don't tell the stories too well, in my opinion.

EvilLlama 05-16-2012 01:05 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bob (Post 28338)
Hey Evillama,

Do you have a process for deciding what the core of your game is going to be?

Basically I sum up the game I want to make in a sentence (elevator pitch). I think about what experience I want the player to feel and avoid sectioning the game off into its disciplines (gameplay, visuals, audio, technology, story, etc).

Re: story debate--a lot of books have terrible stories. Some games have good stories. However story is only one part of a game.

A game, or any creative media for that matter, ultimately delivers an experience. I like to think about the experience as a big fat bag of weight. The components of the game (story, art, mechanics, etc) are working together to try to carry that weight. Depending on your game, some of those components will need to have huge muscles to do the heavy-lifting, while others are just carrying the train. The less weight one component carries, the more another will have to carry to make up for it.

For example:
In text adventures the visuals carry barely any weight--basically just maybe the font or a title screen. Therefore they need better stories or word puzzles to make up for it.
Hidden object game rely primarily on story and visuals to make up for their lack of mechanics.
Arcade games such as pacman rely on polished mechanics and sound feedback, so they don't need to focus on story or visuals as much.

SteveByDesign 06-11-2012 01:19 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
First thing I do is I have a set of leisure activities that I partake on to help get the creative juices flowing, example taking a walk. Ones surrounds is a very good way to come up with a basic feeling or expression for the game, walking in a city as opposed to hiking will create several different ideas.

Once I have thought of a feeling I want the player to experience, I begin brainstorming specific ways to impose that feeling on the player. Take basic emotions and think of all the several ways this emotion can be generated, not just situations but mechanics.

Mechanics are huge, once I have in my head the emotion I want the player to experience I brainstorm how this can be achieved in different genres of games and then onto a new way of conveying this through GAMEPLAY in each genre. I emphasize gameplay because in conceptual phase it is very easy to forget about that and essentially I craft a film instead of a game. At this point I am sure you will be able to scratch off several genres that do not fit the experience you want to craft.

From here it is simple, list of mechanics, how they interact with the overall game experience. Then I begin my design document work, this is when visuals become important in order to convey them clearly to the artist reading the document and the mechanics become more fleshed out to describe the system and amount of interaction with the environment and any objects in said environment for programmers sake.

Story and visuals for me all hammer home the experience or experiences you are trying to convey to the player, they can either reflect the mechanics or vice versa depending on the game you intend to create.

halleylight 06-13-2012 12:49 PM

Re: How do you start designing a game?
 
I would agree with bob's #2 post. The first step you should take is to decide what kind of emotion you would want your players to experience by playing your games. Games are all about emotions, things like story, mechanics just act as mediums to deliver these unique experiences. Whether it's the feeling of overjoyed when achieve something or the bitter sadness of seeing someone die or the fear of ghosts... Just decide on at least one for your game. Successful titles didn't include innovative ideas from nowhere, their designers also had to work on this very first step before anything else. Then, after we have some kind of emotion we want our players to feel when playing, it's time to give it some physical elements, which are theme and mechanics. This is where most designers spend their time working on the most to ensure these elements blend well with the emotion. By "blend well", I mean you have to actually be able to feel that certain emotion through "theme" and "mechanics". Don't focus too much on additional stuff like "depth" or "logic" at this step, you can do it anytime.

I hope this advice would help you somehow !


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