I fell that story should be the first thing addressed and work on well before anything else is started on in the creation of games. The next focus should be on the control scheme and control interface. Following this should be the level design. After level design music and sound effects should take priority, remember you can always turn the sound off and still play the game. Finally the graphics should be work on. To me it seem that graphics are the most important aspect of the game in the marked. Is this true with everyone ? How many hours will someone play a game with great graphics if the game play suchs?
As a game designer you''re in that dilemma a lot of times. What should I focus on, do first, etc. First off, don''t go reading books on pure game design (note I mean PURE design, not coding, etc.), because they just won''t help you. They''ll give you someone else opinion, yes, but expect no more. Ultimately it''s up to you and your game as to what to do. Ask yourself, ''what do I think would be best for my game?''. For example if you were making an FPS, you may want to neglect the story a little for other stuff (although you can do the opposite too! See Half-Life). The main thing is really the fun factor, the gameplay! If you wouldn''t enjoy playing your own game, there''s something wrong with your design. All the rest is icing on the cake really. Be able to admit when you''re wrong, be open to stuff, yet keep a clear path and do what you feel is right. It''s like walking a tightrope sometimes hehe When structuring a program, just be logical and leave room to add new stuff, if in doubt ask your programmers. They''re the experts on that. Which is another subject, as a designer you should know a little bit of everything in a game, although often many designers are also programmers. However even they must eventually become a jack-of-all-trades eventually, because it is a designer''s main job to also be the link that holds everything together. You''re also a leader, which means you must know your game in and out because people will look to you in advice in some dev matters, also means you''re responsable for the morale of your team. Many good projects fell apart under bad design simply because of a squabble, or the designer got too full of himself. And always remember, that without everyone in your team you''d just be a man with a dream in his head hehe.
I''m a real graphic adventure lover, and I make them as well. I love doing stories and cutscenes and things like that--but when I design a game I FORCE myself to digress and think of gameplay. If you come up with this killer plot about this huge conspiracy of blah-blah-blah it doesn''t matter if the game doesn''t open itself for action or puzzles or whatever genre game you are making.
Don''t get me wrong, I still think story and dialogue and all that are extremely important, I just think that since we''re making games and not movies, you always have to think in terms of gameplay.
Alex Atypical Interactive www.atypical-interactive.com
If you try to do everything serially, with N stages, your game will take N-times longer to complete than a similar game with N things happening in parallel. Sure, it might be better, but it will cost N times as much and it''s an unsustainable model of development. You have to develop in parallel. The trick is how to coordinate it properly.