Most of us designers have an idea for a game, and often its a very grand idea. An idea with ALOT of elements like main character, storyline, heroes and villians, mobs, creeps, items, equipment, buildings, animals, nature, and ofcourse a world where all this is suppose to come together as a game. But if its one thing ive learned in my two years being a game designer and a graphical artist here at Lumi Games, it is to keep it simple. And by simple, I mean real simple. Keep it to the basics. Thats not only gonna be much easier for you as a designer to have control over, but alot easier for the programmers too.
The smaller the basic idea is, the better and easier it is to focus on getting the basics done right. We are working on a new game called Karma, its a game where you are merely a whisper in the wind that can help change the mindset of people in the world in any direction you want to take it. So lets say that a person has in interest in cooking. Most likely this person works as a chef. Hes cooking skill is somewhere between 0-100. You can influence his ability to cook in a positive or negative way, and his skill again will influence the cooking level of the resturant his working at. And that again will result in the resturant producing better quality food which has a better buff on the people who eat it. Easy right? Well, yes.
Its a good idea to have an overview of what the end goal of that system is, but do you need to focus on it in the beginning of the game? Well, no… The first thing you need to do is to find out the most basic systems of what you need to make the game work.
The important part is to keep everything REAL simple especially if the idea is grand.
Since Karma is a game where the world expands and new buidlings and roads are popping up alongside with the population of the world (like Transport Tycoon), you will need to create a road and housing system. Do you need it to be expandable at first before you can start implementing other elements? well, thats up to you really. We think its a good idea to have a basic solution where roads and buildings are generated depending on the population. So does that mean we have to make a thousand people walking around the streets to be able to test the expansion? well, no… We can use numbers instead. So lets say that when theres 500 people in the world, there should be generated a new building for people to live in, unless you want homeless people in the world, which is not a good thing… please be kind playing Karma.. Does the roads and building need to have the final texture and art style of the game before testing them? ofcourse not! It can be simple blocks in diferent colors. The important thing is that you as a game designer and/or programmer knows whats what. So make the buildings blue, the roads red, the grass green, and the inhabitants as numbers on a screen.
Most likely you would want the people of the world to be animated somehow, and actually walk from their home and to their job and back again. Well, make them too as simple shapes after working out a way to automaticly create a pathfining system. So the person can walk from A (his home) to B (his job), and back again. But how will the person know when its time to leave for work and when to get home again? Well, create a time system. at 7 am they leave for work, and at 3 pm they head back home.
To design a game is not hard, but to keep it simple is
In this post i clearly used some of the elements from our project Karma as an example, but you can simply adjust this to fit in any game or any other project for that matter. Its the same everytime you start something new, get a great idea, but narrow your way to the great into simple basic steps along the way.
I hope this was something that you as a gamedesigner og programmer are able to use. Propably you allready knew this, and most people do. But its not as easy to actually implement this mindset when desinging a game, but its utterly important.