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How do you guys plan out your ideas?

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Good Afternoon guys, just had a quick question regarding how you personally plan out your games?

I admit I did a fairly short google search, which turned up a lot of company type solutions, and I could see that being used on an individual level, but I was just curious how most people REALLY do it. I know that sounded weird so to elaborate, I mean I could see myself, using something like vizio eventually for a bigger program.

To answer the question "What kind of programs are you working on now?" I'll admit, I've only made Pong, Breakout, and currently still working on Tetris, which has been kicking my ass (but that's my own fault because I know I could have taken the easy way out ( which I'm not saying is bad, due to the KISS principle, but I've been trying to implement as much OOP principles / Programming patterns as I'm learning them just to practice them at the same time)

 

The problem is to sum it up. I've been doing no planning at all. I've literally just took the one step at a time approach, set a short time goal, implement that feature, on to the next. Then when I'm done with something and I move on to the next, something just randomly clicks and goes, well if I'm doing this I should've just done (something I've already done) this way to make it better.

Then I go back to optimize and I mean I do end up correcting it. I do understand that, this is prolly never going to change regardless, but I would like to lower the amount of times I have to.

 

What I'm planning on doing is  just whiteboarding it, I have one already in the basement that's pretty huge. Or OneNote since I had it preinstalled on my Surface Pro 3. I was just curious if you dealt with this and if so how?

- drew it up on a physical median like a whiteboard, scratchpad,

- some application I don't know about

- winged it, and figure out as you go along

- other

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Actually it's completely up to you.
You're current approach can work fine if deadlines/ time is no hard measurement.

Personally I start with a game design document (pre-production) and take quite some time to define a mission statement, write out all feautures, prioritize them etc. Followed by a rough planning to reach first payable, alpha, beta and final. How you apply this depends on personal preference. For me it gives a guideline and make me predictable and stick(ish) to my plan.

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It depends entirely on you. I know some developers that don't do anymore planning other than writing the basic story on paper and some doodles and jump straight to coding. I know others that will sit down and plan out everything characters, levels, sounds, how the functions look, etc. long before they even open an editor. You just have to experiment until you find what works for you and stick to it.

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Prototype first.  Design Second.

 

I like to have a working prototype first.  To me, it's the coding equivalent of a sketchpad that you can tweak and modify to test out ideas.

 

Once a working prototype is done, then I'd take a step back and start fleshing out the overall design.  It's easier to come up with a feature set when you have a prototype first; it gives a better frame of reference.

Edited by Shpongle

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Prototype first.  Design Second.

 

I like to have a working prototype first.  To me, it's the coding equivalent of a sketchpad that you can tweak and modify to test out ideas.

 

Once a working prototype is done, then I'd take a step back and start fleshing out the overall design.  It's easier to come up with a feature set when you have a prototype first; it gives a better frame of reference.

 

It's funny you say that because that's what i seem to accidentally end up doing 

 

I'll sit and come up with some simple fun game idea in the software itself, then later on think about where the projects actually heading

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Do what works -- whatever helps you remember important things and think through important problems is what works.

 

A few days ago, I was doing dungeon-design for a Zelda-Like game with my small team. I drew a template of what a single, 1-screen room looks like, with places for doors to adjacent rooms and a grid on the floor. I made 60 copies of this and we took them to a conference room and started laying the shape of the dungeon out. Then we started thinking about how the player would progress through the dungeon -- what were the goals, which rooms were on success path, what do we need to demonstrate in one room so that we can test the player on it in a later room, and how do we do that? We colored doors that are freely passable green, doors that open when a room condition is cleared yellow, and doors that only open after the player has completed a minor quest goal (find the key, push a button) red. We drew in impassible tiles with hash-marks, we cut up differently-colored strips of post-it-notes to represent enemies and objects, wrote on them, and stuck them to the rooms in their starting positions. As we went along, we were constantly playing and replaying each room and the entire dungeon in our minds, looking for flaws in our design or reasoning, trying to anticipate when and why the player might become stuck, and what to do to unstick her.

 

That was super low-tech, but very productive. Paper is a great tool because there are no tool limitations to get in your way or force your hand. And if you change your mind, you just crumple it up and toss it in the bin.

 

Don't get too hung up on using methods someone else deems "professional" or whatever. Use what helps you get things done for lowest investment.

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Then I go back to optimize and I mean I do end up correcting it. I do understand that, this is prolly never going to change regardless, but I would like to lower the amount of times I have to.
 
What I'm planning on doing is  just whiteboarding it, I have one already in the basement that's pretty huge. Or OneNote since I had it preinstalled on my Surface Pro 3. I was just curious if you dealt with this and if so how?

- drew it up on a physical median like a whiteboard, scratchpad,


This is a Production question, so I'm moving it to that forum.

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I come from a computer science background and currently have had a kind of sketchy vision of 

a large(ish) ;) adventure game for maybe a year.

 

The planning is still at very brainstorming level: sometimes I catch myself walking in the woods

and recording a voice memo on my phone; back at home, maybe doing a thematic picture

which somehow describes the atmosphere that I intend to have in the game. 

 

It was really until just a week ago that I finally used some 4 hours to think about technical

issues and lay down (even) a bare bones schematic of what kind of interactions between modules the game 

engine might have. I am at the moment really interested in developing CIE which is about

character interaction - how the non-players in the game can come up with stuff, dialogue, and suggestions,

and how they react to You, the player. 

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As far as tools go, I do like OneNote and a notebook can even be shared for collaborative design. Having a full text search of your notebook -- even within images -- is also pretty sweet. A local wiki instance is also pretty good, if OneNote isn't your thing. The nice thing about having a Surface is that you can easily sketch into your notebook too.

 

Another tool I've heard of being used are screenwriting software -- the structure is of a screenplay is relatively well-suited for capturing different areas and rooms in a game, and their goings-on -- and for actual cutscenes, of course.

 

You could also use a bug/issue tracker to record outstanding design tasks/questions/bugs so that you can make sure to address them later -- they're not just for software bugs.

 

You'll also want a backup plan in place, and hopefully you've got a mirrored raid volume somewhere too. If you don't have one at home, definitely consider an off-site solution -- AFAIK, all of the commercial cloud storage providers provide backup and redundancy, just be sure to find a service who you're satisfied will keep your information private and secure.

 

As I said before though, don't be afraid to go low-tech. A stack of loose-leaf paper and some binders, or a filing cabinet and some hanging folders do wonders. Especially for 1 or just a few people, you don't really hit the scalability issues that make digital a no-brainer for larger teams.

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I've been doing no planning at all. I've literally just took the one step at a time approach, set a short time goal, implement that feature, on to the next. Then when I'm done with something and I move on to the next, something just randomly clicks and goes, well if I'm doing this I should've just done (something I've already done) this way to make it better.

 

Well I've been programming games this way for over 15 years and it works fine for me. My prototype and plans are in my head, and I only resort to pen and paper to visualise particularly hard concepts, rarely. This works fine for me and I have no need to change my ways, but it might not work for you. Do what works for you and try some different approaches as people have suggested here.

 

Good luck!

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