Game Design Process: Designing Your Video Game


Want to take you place amongst the great designers
in the video game industry? This is the second video in a two part series
where we are going to show you how to properly design a video game. After watching this video
you will know how to conceptualize and differentiate your vision, how to define your design priorities,
and how to communicate your vision so that you can gets others on board with your plan. This is the same design process that we’ve
observed at big gaming studies – and we’ve seen designers use this methodology to build
momentum and support for their ideas in the most competitive of industry studios. Welcome back! If you’re new to Ask Gamedev,
we make videos to help you learn about the games industry so that you can elevate your
games and Inspire others. If you’re on a gamedev journey, consider subscribing. We’d
love to help you along the way. As we mentioned at the top, this is part 2
of a series of how to design a video game. In part 1, we reviewed how and where to research
a design idea so that you can confirm that it has merit. Click the link here if you want
to go back and check that video out first. The research you complete from that video
will be very helpful in defining the design elements that we will review here. Deciding on “how” to design a video game
is a tough choice – there are countless different ways to approach design. In this video will
– but this framework is meant to be a guide only. You’ll definitely want to adjust it
to meet the specific needs of your game. The first step is to define your design pillars
– they are what makes your game great. Your design pillars are the must have elements
in your title, and is more than just a feature set. You need to define what makes these pillars
important – and you have to do it for each in one sentence. You should also not have
more than three to five design pillars- by limiting the # of pillars, you will make sure
to focus on what really matters. Let’s take a well-known game and give some
examples for design pillars. Fortnite is hugely popular at the moment – and you could potentially
define its design pillars as: hyper-competitive multiplayer battles
Limitless building capabilities Deeply strategic battle tactics
Accessible and fun visuals Light-hearted and humorous tone Those are just examples, but you get the point.
Design Pillars are not necessarily features, but what the consumer will think of first
and foremost what they think about your title. Once you have your design pillars defined,
you can start defining the details of the user experience – starting with your game
loop. A core game loop is the basic process that
the user will repeat throughout your game. Sometimes called an addiction loop, the core
game loop is the crux of your user experience. You’ll want to define the loop, and be sure
that you have the right incentives and rewards layered throughout this loop to ensure your
user retention is as high as possible. In mobile games, keeping your audience playing
the game is critical – and defining and optimizing the core game loop is a never ending effort.
Let’s take a look at a popular mobile game like Clash of Clans. In a simple illustration
– there are three major parts in Clash of Clans’ core loop: Collecting Resources, Building
& Training, and Battling. The player will continually progress through these three stages
throughout the game, with incentives sprinkled throughout in order to reduce the desire to
put the game down. Define your own game loop, have it align with
your design pillars, and make sure it’s fun and rewarding. If you know of any games with
great core loops that your fellow viewers should check out to help with this- let us
know in the comments below! Next you should define the magic moments in
your game. These are the specific points in gameplay that will delight or leave lasting
impact on the player. These are the moments that players will tell their friends about
– the moments that will cause users to jump out of their seat, or laugh, or scream.. Or
whatever it is you do when you are wowed. The magic moments list needs to be specific,
and again, should be defined in one sentence and be no more than 3-5 in total Let’s take a classic Nintendo title like
Mario Kart and give some examples for magic moments. In Mario Kart, you could suggest
that the user is delighted during the The moment when you cross a finish line and
your cart zooms off in the distance. Or, during the
The moment when you knock an opponent in the air with your red shell. Or, during the
The moment of just timing a drift perfectly and coming out with speed Again, you will want to customize this list
of for your specific title – But these are moments that will need to shine early in the
development of your game. You’ll want these moments to be front and center during every
demo you make as they will have huge impact and be memorable. Do you like mario kart? Let us know in the
poll above what you think about it’s most magical moment. So now you have design pillars, your core
game loop and magical magical moments. Now it’s time to define your full feature set
and what matters most in each feature. Your feature set is different from your design
pillars in that it is a list of all major elements of your game – regardless of their
importance to the end user. Some features may not even be visible to the user – like
content tools, or build systems. You’ll need to define your feature set so that you
have a holistic view of everything that is necessary for ship – and everything that will
need its own design. It’s also important to define “what matters most” for each
feature – which is what the key goal of the feature and what cannot be compromised. The
what matters most will guide your decision making when you design the specific features
– as well as when you have to make the tough compromises regarding the scope of your game. Let’s do a simple feature set and what matters
most example for another classic title – this time let’s use Grand Theft Auto. If you
were designing this game, part of your features set would be
the map feature that shows where the user in located in the open world. What matters
most for this feature might be “intuitive and simple location information.” Another
feature might be the driving mechanic. The what matters most of this feature might be
“accessible, failure-free driving” as GTA has easy to understand driving controls
and a very forgiving driving system that allows the user to run over virtually anything. So define your feature set and what cannot
be compromised by defining what matters most – as this will be the basis for your overall
development plan. So now, you have the pillars of your design,
your core game loop, and your magic moments. You’ve also defined the underpinning feature
set and what matters most for each item. The next step is to reflect all of those pieces
in short descriptors that will allow you to communicate your idea to others efficiently.
This might seem trivial – but this is a critical step. Most people need help from others with
developing a great game – and if you can’t communicate your vision in a way that gets
people excited, you should take that as a signal that you may be missing something important.
We recently did a video on mistakes to avoid when making games – check it out in the link
above. .
The first objective is to define your elevator pitch – or how you could sell your game vision
in a short elevator ride. This is a definition of what makes your game great in just a few
sentences. Let take the EA Sports flagship title Fifa
and suggest an example elevator pitch. For Fifa you might say: Authentic football action
using the stars and teams from around the world that you know and love. Unparalleled
strategic realism lets you control your squad with incredible precision. Visual accuracy
that showcases the beautiful game on the game’s great pitches. Now that you have your elevator pitch – you
will want to get even more specific and break your vision down to a single sentence – what
is often called a x statement or product razor. This is your game in one succinct phrase.
For an example of this let’s stay with Fifa – a good x statement for that game might be
“authentic football that makes the user the star”. Good X statements can act often
as branding tools – so make sure to iterate on this and spend the time needed to get it
right. Try out your elevator pitch and X statement
on friends and family. See if they react positively to your wording and understand your message.
Take feedback and iterate as needed – these definitions are living concepts and should
be updated as needed. The next thing you will want to define is
the order in which you will develop the various elements of your feature set. You’ve want
to start with a first prototype – typically on the most important of your feature pillars,
and something that is central to your game loop. From here, you will then want to create
the complete feature a roadmap – which is essentially all of the remaining elements
of your feature set put in order of expected delivery by development. Development planning is a deep topic, and
if you want more information on how to build a world-class development plan – check out
our recent video through the link above as it outlines the key tools and tactics that
industry experts use. We also wanted to address the common question
of how to detail the specifics of your design when working with a teams. We definitely recommend
erring on the side of brevity, as long design documents that outline minutiae in the game
can be inefficient to create and outdated as soon as development challenges your assumptions.
Often the right approach depends of the size of your team and the complexity of what you
are trying to build. When there are more people involved and the design is complicated, you
are probably best served by doing more documentation so that everyone has something concrete in
writing to work from. If it is a small team working on simple gameplay, sometime whiteboard
sessions or sticky notes can be effective. It all depends on the specifics of your situation
– but we do know that spending a lot of time writing documents is typically counter productive So now you know how some of biggest and best
publishers in the game space create video game designs. As we mentioned at the start
of this video – definitely adjust this framework to align with the needs of your specific game
idea. Thanks for watching – and let us know in the
comments what you plan to use – and what you plan to avoid from this design framework?
Don’t hold back – the viewer community needs your opinion! If you do like this video, considering
hitting the like button, or subscribing as we publish new content every week on how to
elevate your games. Hit the bell below to be notified as soon as a new video is available. What will you use – or avoid from this design
framework? Let us know in the comments.

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