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Writing Out Games

Discussion in 'General Gossip, Troll Wars & Game Development' started by Prof. Krauf, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. Prof. Krauf

    Prof. Krauf Lurker Not From Round Here

    I was wondering if there is anything constructive or useful in writing out detailed ideas for a video game. I have been imagining my own games for years now and lately I've been extensively writing out the ideas for them. One of them I had written was a Captain Planet game. I made charts, tables, and small sketches for the game all describing how it would play and look. I took game manuals as an example or formula to go on.

    The Story

    The Characters
    Getting Into the Game (Explains starting the game up)

    Options Screen (Explains setting the visual and audio features of the game, as well as changing the controller configuration and turning the vibration function on or off)

    Explains the controls of the game

    The Gameplay (Describes the core concept of the game)
    Game Screen (Describes the HUDS with a sketch pointing out and detailing the essential parts of the game screen while in gameplay.)
    missions (Describes game missions and the co-op feature)
    secret missions (Describes secret missions)

    Character Stats and Abilities (Describes each playable character in the single player/co-op and lists their statistics, abilities and how they gain those abilities with tables)

    Multiplayer (Gives a brief description of the game's online multiplayer)

    Game Types (Describes the objective game types in the multiplayer)

    Multiplayer Characters (Describes the characters only available in the multiplayer component in the game and lists their stats and abilities in detail)

    Trophies and Achievements (Lists Achievements or Trophies that are obtainable in the game)

    Basically I wondering if it is worth doing this if you're trying to get a job in the games industry. I know employers look for people with portfolios, but would they take the time out to look at something as detailed as this?
  2. Jimmy Thicker

    Jimmy Thicker Vice Admiral Sir Tim. One Of Us

    Absolutely, if you are applying for a design position something like that would be very useful.
  3. Mad

    Mad Industry God One Of Us

    I'm kind of on the fence with this approach. On the one hand if I am hiring designers and they show me their concept work I can get an immediate feel of their strengths and see how diverse and/or how deep they can take an idea. But on the other hand I would judge what is put in front of me and if it's not good then I would take that into consideration.

    When it comes to game concepts handing over a 20 page document is not the answer, putting together a clean and concise presentation showing off the concept is preferable and also shows that you can put your source material into a way anyone can understand it. Having a 1 page summary to hand out guarantees that the key information is presented alongside your presentation and it's something people will read over the big doc. Of course you should also have your public speaking up to par and be able to pitch these ideas, something people overlook.
  4. Micronaught

    Micronaught Lurker Not From Round Here

    Some employers get turned off by design applicants that come in with a pile of ready-made designs. Honestly, there is no shortage of people with interesting game ideas. That's probably not what they want. What they are looking for are people with good design insight and collaboration skills. Turning up with a full design for a game you want to make could work against you if they think you have an agenda to do your designs and not work within the team. Plus, there can be sticky legal issues for them reading your game ideas.

    It's better to show your design skills in a way which doesn't risk turning them off. Pro and con the game play in popular titles, and highlight what you might have done differently. Grab some mod tools and show off your level design skills for some random game. That kind of stuff shows your skills without risking them being turned off by the wrapper you display them in.
  5. IFW

    IFW https://www.patreon.com/IFW One Of Us

    I think it totally depends. If the design docs in question are totally killer new original ideas which blow you away and you've nver seen before.. I can see the benefit - showing your creativity, etc.

    If you just have a load of design docs which are just carbon copies of popular games.. not so much. Yes i know 99% of games are carbon copies - but.. hang on, i'm gonna go have a coffee before i continue on this thought process.. it's too early in the morning!
  6. manmeet005

    manmeet005 Lurker Not From Round Here

    check out some of online games site and you will get the good ideas.
  7. manmeet005

    manmeet005 Lurker Not From Round Here

    i think you must try out some of the online games site in order to get out the latest and the advanced ideas for designing your game.
  8. Casimir

    Casimir Gamer One Of Us

    Design docs are mostly worse than useless.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
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  9. EvaUnit02

    EvaUnit02 Apocalypse inducing not-robot suicidal mother One Of Us

    This is the most important bit, if you ask me. Ideas are a dime a dozen.
  10. hiphop

    hiphop Yes, yes you can One Of Us

    Im from a different camp :)

    Since i get paid for writing these design docs, ill explain why they add value to publishers:

    They want to see the scope of the project.
    They want to understand the scope of the project.
    They want to schedule the length of the project.
    They want to create a budget for the project.
    They want to staff a project.

    Once they know all that, they can decide whether the risk/reward is worth it to move forward, a designer does that cheaply for them compared to a team, of X people for X months.

    Thus large design docs are not "useless" they are an excellent tool for planning a theoretical project. Combined with a prototype that allows the designer to prove the core mechanics.

    Additionally when working with license holders, saying ive got a nice idea and were going to make it up as we go along isnt going to cut it, AT ALL. They need to know about the project, make sure it stays in brand, adds value etc etc etc


    In real implementation terms the comments above are actually true. BUT the design doc IS a springboard for discussion on features and implementation. How do different divisions of a team work in parallel if there is no design?

    So yes design docs are valuable, and are most valuable when they are not set in stone and the designer doesn't cling to it and become a pre madonna. They are a guide book, not a bible.

    Design & Plan and implementation are two separate fields and in a lot of organisations releasing funds to move into production will require these sort of documents. The difficulty then becomes managing expectation as creativity/collaboration and iteration truly shape the product, which may not reflect the original design.

    As other have said, you'll also need to sum up the concept into a few pages .. but what most people miss is that to do that with any level of quality requires you to go through the design process, how else will you "sum it up" if you dont know what it is?

    waterfall vs agile essentially.

    I think waterfall is necessary to have an understanding of the "costs" associated with a product upfront and ensure certain brand values are considered and agile necessary to produce the best game possible within those costs. Its a difficult thing to work through as the original docs are considered as a blueprint by the money-men but require them to understand that the product can and should change through production.

    You'll also find over time, that these issues with cascading failure (from the above posts) are what you'll learn to predict and minimise, if you're any good :)

    Although i cnat talk about it, ive just worked with an organisation trying to prove that more planning improves estimates/improves quality and reduces waste. I think we've managed to do so.
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  11. hiphop

    hiphop Yes, yes you can One Of Us

    Ive always hated that statement although i understand it.

    Bad ideas are a dime dozen.
    Workable well thought out, production ready designs are not a dime a dozen, they are of great value in saving time, headaches and issues through production and getting a project greenlit. They should save a team time and money and help improve quality.

    Anyone can say "lets invent a time machine, it would be cool".

    Any group can start making a time machine and hope to produce it.

    The person who presents a workable, feasible blueprint for building a time machine is a different thing.(obviously this also requires a team to collaborate, work with and iterate with to produce the final product and release funding/backing ).
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  12. hiphop

    hiphop Yes, yes you can One Of Us

    So in answer to the OP:

    Yes write these games out, try to get people to look at them.
    Whilst they may not get you a job as such they'll hone your skills at understanding what it takes to make a game.
    They'll improve your design skills.
    It will help you to start looking at your systems in better detail.
    It will help you to predict future problems.

    Also learn how to produce working demos, you dont need to code any more look at playmaker or gamemaker or any other visual programming tools.

    And as IFW says if you come up with something really new and fresh and fun .. you'll find other people to collaborate/fund it much sooner than you think.

    But really, can you be THAT OBJECTIVE about your own work?
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  13. DoomBot

    DoomBot Zammo One Of Us

    I'm pretty sure employers generally aren't able to look at game design documents submitted with job applications, mainly for legal reasons. Especially larger studios and publisher-owned devs.

    It would be much better IMO to produce a small demo, flash game, mod, or level for an existing game (source, or UDK).

    If you want to submit something written, I think you'd be much better off writing some analytical text about an existing game, a genre, or even a specific mechanic or mode from a game. What's good/bad about it and why, and how you would improve or change it. That would allow you to demonstrate an understanding of game design, and include some cool ideas or solutions to the problems you perceive. And they would be allowed to read it.

    That's not to say that practicing writing design documents is a waste of time, it's just not something I expect an employer to look at. It's hard enough to get people to read the design docs you get paid to write when you do have a job :)
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  14. Anthony Flack

    Anthony Flack tedious space wanker One Of Us

    If you haven't designed any games before, I guess it's not a bad start. Although I think it would help if you have also tried building some games that can actually be played, and iterating on those ideas. Because one thing about a big document written out like that is that half the stuff in there probably won't work, and you won't realise it until after you try it out.

    If you don't have the programming skills needed to make a computer game, that's ok - you could try making some tabletop games with dice and cards and counters, pen and paper, whatever you like.

    I don't know if any of this will get you a job, but I think that building some games that can actually be played will teach you more about designing games.
  15. Anthony Flack

    Anthony Flack tedious space wanker One Of Us

    A friend of mine does that for a hobby, incidentally. Makes up his own low-tech non-computer games, for his own amusement. He's done it for years.

    Last night he called me up out of the blue because he wanted to know if you drew two dominoes out of a bag and subtracted the lowest of the four faces from the highest of the four faces, what the probability each result would be.
  16. IFW

    IFW https://www.patreon.com/IFW One Of Us


    I'm more grumpier nowadays.. Nowadays i'd just have read:

    And told you to go away and focus on the game... Story isnt games...
  17. Anthony Flack

    Anthony Flack tedious space wanker One Of Us

    Ha! Never saw this was 4 years old. Who resurrected this? Hiphop...
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  18. EvaUnit02

    EvaUnit02 Apocalypse inducing not-robot suicidal mother One Of Us

    With all due respect, I find both good and bad ideas are in abundance. It's actually producing or contributing to production that has value as it seems most people find it very difficult to make the step from idea to tangible.

    Although I do agree that a "workable, feasible blueprint" is highly valuable. It's just that at least in software, as you mentioned, there's no way you're going to do that on your own and you're especially not going to do it all upfront. So, I feel any upfront design docs, as described by the OP, are probably not going to be terribly worthwhile.
  19. IFW

    IFW https://www.patreon.com/IFW One Of Us

    ideas are like assholes.
  20. hiphop

    hiphop Yes, yes you can One Of Us

    Every forum has one?

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