Typically I've been working on standard story driven shooter
games, but our current game has some very new elements to it,
so I've approached it with different design ideas then in the
past. I'm working on several other new designs and each one
of those have a very different in design approach as well. In
a nutshell, the goals or the style of the project can really
dictate the process. Just coming up with a story is not enough,
just as having a game type in mind, i.e. FPS, RTS, or FRP, is
not enough. You really have to get into the root of what you're
trying to create.
It usually starts
out with me thinking, "You know it would be really cool
to play a game where you can ____________". That gets the
ball rolling. Then I start doing some research in the areas
that might apply to that initial inspiration.
I then start a notebook
so I can have a place to write down ideas research notes,
characters, plot points, weapons, game-play and design goals.
It helps to keep all that information in one place. Sifting
through books, reviewing similar games, and looking at artwork
is an important part of this process as well. It's pretty messy
in the beginning, with me photocopying visuals ideas and taping
them into my notebooks. The Palm Pilot also allows me to take
notes on the run.
Then to make a long
story short (too late), I take all those notes and "hide"
them (within reach), start over, and begin to write what I think
will be the "treatment" or "outline". That
is then taken to the next level, the design document. I usually
have two documents (both are updated throughout the production
process), a design doc, and a story doc. Both have very different
goals. The design doc focuses on detailed design issues; weapons,
enemies, controls, naming conventions, essentially everything
that a person might need to make the "game". The story
doc, is what one would use to make the levels, record dialogue
and find out what the hell this thing is "about" and
where the game may take you.
Only reading both
documents will one get the full picture of what the game is
And to answer the
question about whether I, "consciously make an effort to
remember you're developing this for a computer game": yes......
I mean, I like to
push the limit. You can ask anyone that has ever worked with
me and they might say (other than the fact that I want things,
"bigger"), that I'm fond of saying, "No one has
really done that before. "But with pushing the envelope
comes a lot of compromise and potential failure. Then again
some people might say I don't do anything innovative at all.
It's a madhouse out there.