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Simplify your game idea

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Whenever I start firing up new game ideas, I usually tend to keep adding ideas to the pool. The other day, I was trying to brainstorm a way to make things a little easier on myself. So... I thought, why not make the pool smaller, simpler, instead of bigger and more complex? Take your game idea. Try to strip as much out of it as you can. Maybe even put it in a slightly different form. Try to keep the general idea in place, but see if you can simplify the design. Just as an example, say you''re thinking of a fantasy football game. You''ve got it all worked out. Skills increase during a character''s career, wounds have to be healed by doctors, bonusses can be gathered on the field etc. But... Simplify: Leave out the doctors, bonusses and skills. Focus on the gameplay itself. Just put two teams on the field and have them go at it. Simplify: Take away most of the players. How will the game function when it''s just 2 vs 2. Or even 1 vs 1? Simplify: Just focus on player. What should he be able to do on the field. This was just a simple example. In trying to simplify my own ideas, I found that sometimes, the simpler games actually seemed to provide the same gameplay fun, but in a much simpler form. And I''m not talking ''simplify'' minor details, I actually mean to completely overhaul your idea and put it back an entire level. Say you''re thinking of an RTS with thousands of armies swarming the screen. Taking it back an entire level means decimating those thousands of units to hundreds. Simplifying it even further would make those hundreds into tens. The next step would be to change those tens into ten. The simplest form of your idea would be just 1 unit. But I doubt that you can retain your original ''idea'' with just 1 unit. See what level you think your game idea would still function at, and start designing there. If you can create a working game at that level, THEN you can start adding to the pool and expanding to the next level. It''s not just about numbers though. I''m also thinking of simplify in graphic terms etc. If you''re thinking of that RTS game with those thousands of units being represented 3D, with zoom options, and all sorts of shading and rendering options... Simplify: each unit is represented by 2D symbols. Is any of this making sense at all?

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Original post by Silvermyst
Leave out the doctors, bonusses and skills. Focus on the gameplay itself. Just put two teams on the field and have them go at it.

Uh... so you think that those doctors, bonuses, and skills don't constitute gameplay? Yikes.

Simplification is good, but you have to know the difference between gameplay and features. Remove a feature, and fans of your game will be disappointed. Remove a gameplay element, and fans of your game will probably stop playing it because it's not the same game anymore.

Edited by - TookH on August 16, 2001 3:46:49 PM

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The whole point of simplifying the game is to discover just how much you can extract from your idea, WITHOUT destroying your gameplay. As you say, extract the features not the gameplay itself.

But... in a way... you''re also trying to simplify your gameplay.

Right now, I''m trying to get all my ideas to a level as simple as it can get.

I used to think up tons of different units, think grand scale combat etc, but now I''m trying to defocus and think up only 2 or 3 different units and as small a grid as possible.

I''m trying to get my games to be more like simple to learn board games than like ''the more features I put into my game, the better it ''should'' be''.

If the whole point of your game is that your units get hurt, but can be healed... if that''s part of your game, then you CAN''t take the doctor''s out. But... you might be able to take the ENTIRE ''getting hurt'' part out.

I now use the ''simplify'' idea to really get to the core of ''what do I really want''. But don''t take ''simple'' as meaning ''not complicated.''

I see chess as a simplified game.
I see pacman as a simplified game.
I see current computer roleplaying games as non-simplified games.
I see current RTS games as non-simplified games.

The current trend really seems to be ''the more features, the better.''

I think the opposite is (or at least ''can be'') more true.

Oh, and I''m not talking about simplifying an already existing game, I''m talking of simplifying your current ''in progress'' game idea at the core.

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