Many amazing ideas for games or game servers die out quickly due to improper planning. A stunning concept might die after a couple months because they lacked a player retention strategy. A fast paced game mode might not get off the ground because it was too confusing. An innovative new method of play might be completely ignored because it just wasn't fun. All these issues are avoidable with a little planning work from the beginning.
Game design is the single most undervalued part of the game development process. While the excitement of a project can be hard to manage, the importance of pre-planning and developing a roadmap for your game is one of the key steps that can’t be skipped over. This process ensures that every moving piece of your puzzle knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and what the final expected result should be.
It begins with just an idea.
Every project has to start somewhere. For a game, it begins as a simple thought or an idea. Maybe it came to you in a dream, while you were sipping coffee on a rainy day, or even while you were playing another game when you thought “Hmm, I think I can do this better.” This concept is what we refer to as the "Spark" of a game idea, and it’s what ignites the flame that will turn into the passion behind your project. When you get this spark, many may want to dive right in immediately. Sadly, what most don’t realize, is that this initial concept that you have of your new world is rarely ever the full picture. We find that on average, initial game concepts end up growing at least twice to three times the size while coming to fruition - sometimes even more.
A map through the “mind” field.
This “spark” is what we love to hear when we meet with our new game development clients. We’ll ask tons of questions in our initial concept meeting, wanting to find out every intricacy that can be shared to ensure their most desired features make it to the final product, while taking the spotlight away from some less important ones. We consider everything that is discussed in this first meeting to be the “Project Must-Haves”, as they’re typically the core concepts that are inspiring the rest of the project.
From there, Game Design will turn this basic concept into a fully fledged game. We’ll use what you provided us to compare against anything else that may already be in the space that’s similar. Our Game Designers research key strategies and develop a more refined concept of your game before beginning the final design. With a firm structure and system definitions, we leave the final decision of approval to you. Anything within this concept is regarded as necessary for launch.
Once you’re happy with the vision, Final Design begins. Each system is expanded with specifications and functionality dictation. We’ll make some assumptions on some of the more mundane areas that you may not be super passionate about (Hey! What’s the price of that banana?) and we ensure that elements work together in a way that’s fun, engaging, and keeps your future players wanting more. All these aspects are extremely difficult to keep track of and to navigate on your own. This encyclopedia of your game concept is what our developers, modelers, map creators, and animators will reference religiously throughout the rest of the process.
There are inevitably going to be some bumps along the road. At times, some clients may wish to alter certain aspects of the game. Perhaps a last minute change of plan or a new idea has become especially desirable. At this point we will setup meetings between the Design, Development Team, and yourself. The aim of these calls it to establish deviations of the timescale and any additional cost that will be required to provide these late-stage alterations. We find that the more features you include in the initial concept document, the less likely it becomes for this situation to incur. As with everything else, we do our best to accommodate all requests and ensure any required deviation is minimal.
Game Design doesn't stop when your document is finished. Once you've approved your concepts and the team officially gets to work, our designers play-test your project constantly - ensuring every little detail, alteration, and amount of polish you'd expect is in place. This isn't a stage of the design process, but instead a constant task throughout the remainder of the game. This QA process will also reveal any inconsistencies in more sensitive aspects of your game, such as balance adjustments or economic impact of certain mechanics. These aspects can be tweaked on the fly as your game is being built.
Project Management's Best Friend
Much how our Project Success Managers strive to keep projects on time, under budget, and moving forward - our Game Designers manage the flow of the content that's produced. They constant ensure consistent quality, stability, and ease of use.
We've officially begun offering game design services as part of our Gaming Services Division since December of 2018, and it's been a massive success. If you've ever wanted to work with someone to get your ideas on paper, or you need help managing a project that seems to have grown more than you expected, it's time to get in touch with us.