On this page I collect different things, views and methods on how to get into game design or how to get good results in game design. I also learn here, because I am get myself into game design at the moment – besides having made some games or prototypes in history.
Start out with the Engine
Start out making an interesting game engine with a fun game mechanic. Then spend the rest of the time working mostly on interesting level design and/or community features. Peter Liepa, the inventor of Boulder Dash (read this interview) worked that way on Boulder Dash. This way of designing is especially suitable for tile-based, (scrollable) single-screen games. You can develop the most important parts of the gaming flow completely independed from other people, like graphic or sound designers. They will not bother you when you design the game, but they will be more like: “Hey, can you put up my new stuff?
Strongly support narratives and a shared, big vision of what the game should be like
Good games should serve this: they are something, they have something they do, they have a strong vision that comes into mind when you play and you can tell this in one line. Lately I got stuck on designing a game, although everything was fine and ready: gameplay, graphics, game mechanics etc. Something missed, but what? I flicked over to the 400 Rules Project on Designing Games and found rule 30: “Provide a Consistent Single Vision for the Game”.
A strong narrative, even for the most simple game, not only support the users experience, but also keeps the game elements (also sound, graphics etc.) in a consistent way. Each simple part and little details should contribute to the goal to archive: to invoke a strong narrative and make the game a big vision – even in the context it appears.
All emphasis has to be on the game elements that you will use.
Dealing with the game elements has to be pure fun. You have to put all effort into making cool game elements that are fun to play with. Use every help you can find on this task: use animations, artwork, effects and most important cool sound effects to combine this also with a good overall concept of the game. Take your time in designing. For an illustation of this method look at this entry.
Do the polishing of details and work on the suspense level.
Lately finished my very first complete game and must say that making games is something completely different than for example making music. Not only because you will need high skills on many professions at the same time to make a game: programming, being inventive, making graphics or get someone to make graphics, same for the sounds. Writing stories, dose the suspense level, invent characters, testplay millions of times and also do the leveldesign etc… But foremost the difficulty is high, because without much polishing at the “end” of the basic development process even the best gaming idea will no fun remaining at a prototype level.
I assert that you can pretty quickly make good sounding music with a simple but strong basic idea. But even the best gaming idea will work out nothing if you not spend ages on polishing the details. From my experience this is one of the far most important things on making a game. If the gamer gets bored, the risk that she will break up with the game will increase significantly. That’s why one of the main focus has to be in not setting the game to be boring at any time.
Please note, that this is a work in progress article and will probably never been finished.