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The Plunge Into Game Design

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Goodness, are you still here? Guess I must not be the only foolhardy, overconfident designer around here. ;) Well then, onward!

The game development team leader has two main reponsibilities: the game development team, and the design document. So hopefully you like to type, because in between emails and turning your ideas nto documentation you are going to have tired fingers. ;)

Let's talk about the development team first, because it's a shorter topic. The first member of the team is obviously you, the game designer. Probably you also know a bit about most of the types of content that go into a game, and plan to contribute some content in one or two areas yourself. Obviously, you don't know everything, and you can't do design in an area you know nothing about - this is what partners are for. So you can approach creating your game design in one of two ways: 1) Write all of the design document that you can and then look for a partner, or 2) Look for a partner and write the design document together. Both methods have virtues, but the first is better if you prefer working alone and have a firm idea you are committed to, and the second is better if you prefer working cooperatively and have lots of ideas you need help choosing among.

The Content Areas
(Note1: Not all games will or should have all types of content.)
(Note2: I am not an expert on every area, especially programming. Some of this will undoubtedly be wrong. Please submit corrections if you have some!)

-Concept Art
- - - Characters
- - - Clothing
- - - Monsters
- - - Architecture
- - - Vehicles
- - - Weapons
- - - Landscapes
- - - Plants
- - - Other Objects
- - - GUI
-Finished Art
- - 2D Art
- - - Line Art
- - - Coloring
- - - Animation
- - 3D Art
- - - Models
- - - Skinning and Texturing
- - - Animation
- Music
- - - Sound Effects
- - - Songs
- Voice Acting
- - Vocal Sound Effects (e.g. screams)
- - - Dialogue
- - - Lyrics
- Characters
- - - Archetype/Personality/Motivation/Backstory
- - - Character Dynamic/Roles
- - - Dialogue
- Plot
- - Beginning
- - - Initial Incident
- - Rising Action
- - - Resolve to Action
- - - Failed Attempt(s)
- - - Complication
- - - Further Attempt(s)
- - Climax
- - - Crisis
- - - Resolution
- - Ending
- - - Denouement (Closure)
- Worldbuilding
- - Physics
- - Geography
- - Ecology
- - Culture
- - Graphics Engine
- - Game Engine
- - - Collision Detection
- - - Maps and Rooms
- - - Pathfinding
- - - AI
- - - Battle System
- - - Inventory and Equippage
- - - Puzzles
- - Permanent Game Content Data
- - Temporary Individual Game Data
- - Puzzle Design
- - Quests/Plot Points
- - Battle System Design
- - Item System Design
- - - Shops
- - - Economy
- - - Inventory
- - - Equippage
- - Level Design
- Website
- Ftp Server
- Messageboard
- Email Listserv
- Chatroom
- Archives
- Game server (for online games)
- - Security

Are you in shock yet? Somebody is going to have to do almost all of those things before you will have a game, plus lots that I have left out. Most artists will not be able to do everything you need in the way of art, most writers will have some areas of writing they need help with, you average programmer is going to have some programming areas they don't have a clue about, etc. So for a single player or MMO FPS or RPG, you are looking at a team of at minimum 6 people, and with beginners and turnover, maybe more like 15 people to get all these areas taken care of.

Fortunately you do not need to tackle everything all at once. To start development you need a gameplay designer, a concept artist, a writer, and a lead programmer. If you can do two of those and your partner can do two of those, you're all set. If you happen to be able to do them all yourself you're more talented than I am, since I personally know very little about programming. (BTW I'm looking for a lead programmer with good people and communication skills who is interested in making a romance-oriented RPG, if anyone reading this happens to be interested.

Next time: The game concept
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Two words:

Simply. Amazing.

sunandshadow, your work has been an invaluable asset to my design thoughts and processes. This one really helps me to see the overall picture and just how much work (or enjoyment) there is to making a game. I can't wait for your next installment. [grin]

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