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taijianT

Game designs that don't describe the basics?

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I'm new here so maybe I am missing something, but I keep running into game ideas/design documents/etc that don't actually describe the basics of the game! By that I mean posts with a detailed story and explanation of specific game details (classes, stats, etc), but that don't say that the game is a "First person Shooter" or mention the game is an MMO but don't detail if its combat based, strategy based, first person, isometric, etc. I work in IT, not in the games industry, but it seems that a design document should have something equivalent to an Executive Summary ... "Awesomeness 3000 is a side scrolling shooter with some of the stat building elements of a role playing game. The players shoot their way through levels filled with hordes of enemies, collecting experience and power-ups along the way. At the end of each level they can buy and sell power ups and use the experience gained to increase their statistics." ... or something like that. Is this something others have come across or have I just had a bad run? [Edited by - taijianT on November 9, 2009 9:23:37 PM]

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you are completely right.

when you set out to make a game, the more you have defined, the better off you are (to a degree of course! some stuff you have to deal with on the fly or playtest and be flexible about).

Anyhow, you being in IT and me being a coder, this is perfectly logical to guys like us.

Step 1 - define your goals
Step 2 - break your goals into bite sized chunks and make a schedule (and order of operations for maximum efficiency)
Step 3 - follow the plan for success

the more creative fields of game development (artist, designers specifically!) don't always have technical backgrounds like you and me so aren't always as detail oriented or organized.

That's just how it goes :P

and, subsequently, that's where producers are good. They manage the schedule, make sure things are well defined and heading towards the right goals, etc.

Even us tech guys get lost too sometimes (;

hope that explains some stuff, but yeah you are completely right IMO. You need a good plan before you start if you want to succeed.

And, a good story alone doesn't make a game, but some people here are just starting out (or are in high school or younger etc) and don't realize what it takes to succeed.

::shrug:: hehe

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Original post by taijianT
I keep running into game ideas/design documents/etc that don't actually describe the basics of the game!
...it seems that a design document should have something equivalent to an Executive Summary ...
Is this something others have come across or have I just had a bad run?

The students who write game designs in my game design class never get away with that. Probably because that's the first thing I make them write.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/specs.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson13.htm
http://itp.usc.edu/courses/video-game/itp391

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http://www.sloperama.com/advice/specs.htm


In particular it seems (surprisingly to me) that lot of people miss the section: "Gameplay -- Describe the way the game works, from beginning to end. "

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I think that's because new and eager designers think of their game in terms of what is new relative to whatever game they're basing it on. Often this takes the form of a new storyline or a long list of classes/items/weapons/etc...

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Heh, I think I might be guilty of this sometimes. Part of it is the kind of natural shorthand you get when you have a community of gamers with common experiences. Nobody wants to run into a wall of text, and sometimes what you're trying to discuss is so lengthy you only want to throw in a few words to give the reader the basics. If, for instance, someone comes on and wants to discuss how to make a better crafting system, it's taken that the overall experience will probably involve mixing and mashing together resources/items/gear of some kind. That you get these from slain monsters or your in-game fairy godfather are probably irrelevant details, as is whether you shoot, slash, steal or search to get them. And the same basic gameplay dynamic might work just as well for an FPS as an RPG as a space adventure game, and that makes that detail not so vital. So it might not be so much an error of omission as it is an attempt at efficiency.

At least that's my excuse. :P

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I think that sort of shorthand is expected on a forum. As Wavinator pointed out, noone wants to wade through a wall of text on an internet forum. Some people do post up an entire "game design" in a post, which always leads to a lot of misunderstanding, but generally (I would say) the discussions lead towards one of two things -

* A very high level overview discussion of a game concept, which is pecking for interest
* A lower level discussion of a specific game mechanics, where the details are what is actually important

Honestly, the only person I remember for quite some time who actually posted their "game design document" on the forums was that Pirate Lord guy.

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Original post by taijianT
"Awesomeness 3000 is a side scrolling shooter with some of the stat building elements of a role playing game. The players shoot their way through levels filled with hordes of enemies, collecting experience and power-ups along the way. At the end of each level they can buy and sell power ups and use the experience gained to increase their statistics."


This is a great idea, and not just for the gaming industry. Its top-down global overview exposes preferential treatment and underdeveloped sections. How many movies have failed to end, with the excuse that they are leaving room for a sequel?

"CoolBits is a scene in the life of my character. It will have a beginning of course, but I dunno...He has memory loss and so its a mystery of who he is. The player can fill that in. Then comes my favorite part with all the fiddly bits and action to it. Sure it'll have an ending because that's a design requirement -- we'll get to that later. Maybe in an expansion pack."

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Original post by AngleWyrm
Quote:
Original post by taijianT
"Awesomeness 3000 is a side scrolling shooter with some of the stat building elements of a role playing game. The players shoot their way through levels filled with hordes of enemies, collecting experience and power-ups along the way. At the end of each level they can buy and sell power ups and use the experience gained to increase their statistics."


This is a great idea, and not just for the gaming industry. Its top-down global overview exposes preferential treatment and underdeveloped sections. How many movies have failed to end, with the excuse that they are leaving room for a sequel?

"CoolBits is a scene in the life of my character. It will have a beginning of course, but I dunno...He has memory loss and so its a mystery of who he is. The player can fill that in. Then comes my favorite part with all the fiddly bits and action to it. Sure it'll have an ending because that's a design requirement -- we'll get to that later. Maybe in an expansion pack."


Whoa settle down :P

This was a hypothetical example that I came up with in a few minutes and certainly wasn't meant to be the complete document, or even a complete section. I was trying to convey the bit that was missing from some of the documents I had seen. Obviously you need lots of other bits to convey the games design!

And regarless of your sarcasm, design documents, movie proposals, and from what I can gather from Tom Sloper's site, game design documents do have summary sections (even if my example is a bad example of such a summary).

EDIT: I'll try and fix my example, or at least make it clear that it isn't the complete document.

[Edited by - taijianT on November 10, 2009 6:01:59 PM]

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Original post by zer0wolf
I think that sort of shorthand is expected on a forum. As Wavinator pointed out, noone wants to wade through a wall of text on an internet forum...


Yeah, my post wasn't motivated by this forum specifically, here it would often make sense to exclude such a description (for reasons of brevity, or because the context is irrelevant to the idea being discussed).

However I have come across a couple of "Game Design Documents" on the Help Wanted Forum from which I literally couldn't determine what type of game was being worked on.

I figured this was the forum to discuss it given that it is an aspect of Game Design, but I could (of course) be wrong!


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