It’s about that time again when you need to start to design a new game. Be it because your last design had flaws or that you finished coding it want to start on a new one. But anyway you look at it, you need to think of something new… something amazing!
How do you do it?
This has always been a problem for me when I design a game. I hate mimicking others or cloning them (as so many online games do). But I have figured out a way (for myself at least) to start a design but not steal idea’s from others. So I thought I would be kind enough to share these insights with you :p
My first step is to define the genre I want to be in. Do I want it to be RPG, strategy, sim? Or a mix? A lot of people I have talked to about design don’t have this simple question answered when they start. If you don’t know what genre your are developing in, how can you ensure all your idea’s will fit in nicely with the game style? And don’t say “I want a strategy game” and neglect to define the era. Make sure you have this nailed down before you start. It will make design easier.
Next is to figure out what are the core features of this genre? For example, all RPG have experience gains, weapons, levels, skills etc. All strategy games have units, money, buildings, communications, war, alliances and so on. If you can figure this out it becomes simple separate original ideas from the standards. Also, I like to do this to see if there is any logical way I can change the core for my designs. I like to do things differently. Like I stated earlier, I hate copying/mimicking others.
Step three: Go study the genre for a little bit. See what others are doing, see what the community wants. Don’t just jump in and expect to create a game everyone will love if you don’t know what the community wants or what has failed or succeeded in the past. And don’t study just one game. Do a good cross section by picking 3 or 4 unique games. They don’t all have to be PBBGs either. I have gotten idea’s from D&D, Axis and Allies (board game and miniatures) and even things like Zork.
So, genre, core and research. Your three steps to designing your next game be it a pbbg, board game or a full blown pc game.