Design

Design can be considered the process of conceiving and shaping something. And that entails e.g. defining the game genre, the mechanics and managing the process in a good way. On this page you can read about:

Idea Generation

Creative teams and individuals often have unstructured and creativity inhibiting ways of generating and shaping ideas. In a good idea generation session it can be efficient to work concentrated inside three zones. Each zone must concentrate on the goal of that zone, and nothing else.

Zone: Problem Area

The first zone concetrates on defining the problem, and nothing else. The subject the brainstorming session will be about is defined here. If you are designing a character or level, you should define the theme, the target audience or other elements.

Zone: Brainstorming

This zone is the actual idea generation zone. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible without and inhibitions. Usually brainstorming is only considered "emptying the brain of ideas". But apart from allowing all ideas from everybody to be recorded, teams should try to provoke ideas. This can be done by defining artificial constraints, like only working with squares or imagining what Google or Jesus would do. In any case, the answer to all ideas is only "yes!".

Zone: Critical assessment

This zone is where you critically assess all the (sometimes crazy) ideas. Here you critically address the ideas generated in the brainstorming zone, and combine the different ideas. You apply reasoning, theory, principles and common sense to select the best ideas.

Edward De Bono wrote the book "Six Thinking Hats" in which he has a much more elaborate model for you to apply. It is a highly recommendable book no matter what kind of creative work you want to do in your life. Click the image to grab it on Amazon.com.

Story and script

Conflict: Every game has some sort of resistance. You get controls of something, you have a goal to achieve, and then something else opposes you when you try to get to that goal. This is conflict.
Story: If you have a story about the conflict, it's participants, their roles and how the conflict progresses, you can more easily draw characters, decide what happens in levels and much more.
Screenplay: Writing a screenplay is a great way of thinking of a lot of things before constructing lots of assets and code. Here is an example of a screenplay:

Screenplay example

Notice how the screenplay considers where, what and who is in the scene. It defines what happens (conflict, possible outcomes?), which translates directly into game design. Here are some books to teach you how to do it:

Character Design

Designing a character is a bit like designing a logo for a website or a visual identity. It has a huge impact on the visual identity and style of the aesthetics of the game. It's somewhat hard not to think of the story of the game in conjunction with the character design. But that's the nice part of designing: It's all so dynamic! Here is a Pinterest board with some tips:

Character design is of course also a great matter of drawing the character. These books may be a help on this subject as well as the story and personality related issues of character design:

Pinterest: Here is a lot more inspiration from others on Pinterest:

Level Design

What is level design: Once you have decided on the mechanics of the game, the characters, the enemies, the weapons and the world it all happens in, the arrangement and distribution of these can be the next important step. Level Design may include:

  • Map layouts: Rooms, doors, interior design.
  • Positions of enemies: Where are the best positions for enemies and other obstacles to create a fair and fun challenge?
  • Positions of powerups: When is the player rewarded with a new tool or weapon, and how does this affect later levels and enemy positions?

Map Layouts

And here is a lot of inspiration from others:

Process

Controlling the game design process is crucial for the success of the game. Processes are about what to do when, and managing processes is about time and resource management. First we'll look at different approaches to the process.

Waterfall Model

The waterfall model consist of:

Following this process is better than not following any. But this traditional model has some major drawbacks. You may find grievous mistakes during testing without having time to fix it. And you may find during construction that your design is flawed. So what to do? Use an agile model instead!

Agile Process

An agile or iterative process seeks to design, construct and test all the time. Here you divide the game into chunks that you design, construct and test. In this way you can get some experience and use it in the next round. Compared to the Waterfall model it looks like this:

The most widely used method in game design is SCRUM. Read this book and succed in getting your game done in time.

Preproduction

Before starting the development of the game, it is a very good idea to have an elaborate preproduction phase. In it you get proof-of-concept on your game through prototyping, sketches and communication with the target audience. The purpose is to get a deep understanding of your game before starting a lengthy production process.

This book is about preproduction for level design. For a good preproduction process for a whole game, you need to consider more elements, like target audience analysis, prototyping and more.