Starting a new game. Design decisions, risk assessment and prototyping.

I have been reading a very good game design book called “The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses“.

I am thinking of putting the development of Dragons High on hold and start a new game.

In the book they suggest to design and develop your game in loops.

The idea is to think of the risks and the uncertainties in your game and to try and see if you can address those issues with a prototype.

For my game I have decided I want to make a kind of JRPG game for mobile devices.

I draw my inspiration from games such as Miracle Warriors and Phantasy Star.

I have thought about a few issues in this game that I am uncertain about and need to address:

  • GUI – Android and iOS devices have limited screen space that also need to be part of the input for the game. The GUI will affect how accessible the game will be and what kind of art work and stats I will have room for. This is important to figure out because I need to tell an artist what kind of assets to make.
  • Story – The story in an RPG game is very important. It can affect the gameplay, it will influence on what art assets I will need and it will require a settings.
  • Settings – The settings is important to get an inspiration for the story. It is important for the art assets as well. It will help me make decisions about the game from a coherent virtual world the game lives inside.
  • Gameplay – Gameplay is the game mechanics, the game mechanics needs to be fun. How would I decide which game mechanics are fun?

Seems like every aspect I am not sure about is affected by all the other aspects. And this is true.

What I can do is try to create prototypes that will attempt to answer each one of these issue.

One prototype for each issue.

I don’t need to create one prototype to solve all the issues at once.

For me the most important thing to solve first is the gameplay. For this I will create a prototype that will use placeholder assets and won’t have fancy animations or graphics.

It will just try to build the entire gameplay logic of the game. Not only that, it will not have a story or a setting.

I will not create a game, I will create a toy prototype.

A toy is like a game with a set of game mechanics but with no purpose or goals. Like a sandbox.

If the mechanics are fun to play with then they are a good basis for gameplay mehchanics.

I can also prototype the story by witting a story and post it on forums for people to review and comment about it.

I am not sure how I will choose the settings, I guess I will try to research a bit and ask people what they like.

The GUI seems like the last priority at this point, it will be easier when I have my sandbox toy prototype more fleshed out.

Making a list of issues already helped me plan what to do next and focus on the problematic issues first.