Starting point/method in game design


I was wondering, when people start creating a game do they generally plan out the details of the game first (before beginning to code) or do they just have the broad strokes of an idea and start coding (adding to the idea as they go along), is it some mixture of the two or something else entirely? I’m sure that different people probably use different methods, I was just interested in getting the opinion of people from the community.

Cheers :slight_smile:

This is a rather good article on the subject: … mentation/

A no-brainer point but an important one (implied but never directly stated in the article above) is that the bigger a game is, the more important planning will be. A tiny speedIF or game-jam-sized piece can often survive on the strength of an initial concept and some seat-of-the-pants improvisation. Trying that in a larger game will result in a mess. (Sometimes ‘big entertaining mess’ can be part of your design concept, of course.)

Typically, I will have a brainstorming phase where I think of a gameplay system and the basic foundation of a story to go with it. My first task is to prototype some of the system just to see if I can actually do it. If things look promising, I’ll set the code aside and start thinking of the finer details of the story. At some point I’ll start making the game-specific plans such as the rooms, how the player should proceed, the desired mood, etc.

Then at some point I finally start getting into the code.

I would have to say that having a plan is useful, but don’t let it shut down your creativity. Sometimes the best ideas just won’t come until later on. At the same time you do have to show some some faith in your plan by not drifting so far from it that your project becomes disjointed.

The way I like to put it is that planning/outlining/flowcharting etc. creates a body for the work to orbit, a point of gravity. You never need to actually land on the planet; you just need it there so there’s some concept of “up” and “down.”

Thanks guys - very useful advice and greatly appreciated :slight_smile: Hopefully should be starting writing in the next few days (although i’m still getting used to TADS 3).

Cheers :slight_smile: