Thursday, 26 May 2016

Game Design Journey

Hey there everyone,

As I mentioned in my last blog, we are releasing our prototype of Skorian Tales very soon. If you want to help out by testing the core features of the game then sign up for our newsletter here or scan the QR code below. We will email you some instructions on how to participate.
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With that said, I thought I would make this blog a lot more personal. I wanted to talk about how I design games from concept to post-release. I am by no means an expert in the field, I just wanted to share my journey through game development with everyone and give you all an idea of how we do things here at Late Panda.

So let’s get into this with my first step in game design, deciding on the game’s genre or genres. There are so many to choose from; platformer, puzzle, strategy, role playing game, first person shooter, the list goes on and on. I always try to combine several game genres, not only does this give the game more playability but it extends the possible user base significantly if done well.

Once you have your genre(s) it’s time to make the core gameplay mechanics. I start with a question, what would the player find engaging and entertaining? That seems like a very obvious question to ask myself but it gets me started on the gameplay mechanics. At this stage I go through many different versions of the gameplay mechanics but once I have a few ideas on paper I begin crafting the narrative of the game.

I find it best to begin the creation of the narrative with the start of the game, what is the first 30 minutes of the game that the player will see/play. Once I have my beginning I jump right to the end of the narrative. I find that the beginning and the end of the narrative are the most important from the designer’s perspective as these are the first and last impressions that the player has from the game. If your game has a slow start players will not get to the middle, if it has an unsatisfying end players will be noticeably upset as they experienced the entire game only to be let down at the end of the narrative.

My next step is to merge my gameplay mechanics with my narrative, if one does not suit the other I will rework them both until I think they fit best with the world I am aiming to build. This is when I take the concept to the team, we will begin discussing improvements to the narrative and/or the gameplay mechanics until we are all fully satisfied. This is when I begin to flesh out the entire game storyline, creating the script for dialogue and laying out the groundwork for the scripted/dynamic events.

Before the development begins, I work on the backstory and worldbuilding to give the game’s world more life. This makes the development of the art, music and gameplay easier to create in the future as the team will fully understand what the finished version of the game will be like.

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This is when my job becomes more difficult, I have to juggle between character design, environmental design, sound design, gameplay design and narrative design while working with each related team member. That said each task is only required when we begin implementing the features into the game itself, so I can focus on art at the beginning while dipping my toe in the audio design and watching over the shoulder of the programmers while the mechanics are implemented.

My next steps are to design how the player will navigate throughout the game’s storyline, whether that be from quest to quest, mission to mission or a more open world game allowing for a more diverse journey.

With the development coming to a close I spend most of my time jumping from art, music and code to make sure it all follows the vision of the game and when brought together brings the user experience that we all wanted to provide.

Once the game is completed we focus on bug fixes and any redesign required if there are any features that the players do not enjoy. After this we begin preparations for a global release, redesigning and integrating features to suit the new cultural and language differences of other nations.

So that is my journey from concept to release, I’ve missed out a lot of detail as the blog would be far too long for a more detailed rant. I wanted to give everyone an idea of what it is like to work as a game designer in Late Panda.

Feel free to post a comment asking any questions you think I didn’t answer and I will be happy to give you more details.

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Thanks for reading,
Stephen.