Documenting Design Plans
Writing up a Game Treatment.
This week at DHF we are beginning our studies on Game Development! Our weapon of choice is a visual programming environment called Scratch.
A game itself is a system of rules or "mechanics" that work together to support players reaching a specific goal within that system. This means that games have rules and one or more goals that players have to follow the rules to achieve. When we talk about rules as mechanics within a system, we can break down most actions or elements within games into core or secondary mechanics of games. Even simple games can be massively complicated systems, so coming up with a design plan is super important, both for knowing where to start, but also for knowing what your target finished product is.
Here is a good place to start when thinking about starting out with game development.
The take-away here is to keep it simple, scope small, build an idea based on what you are able to do. Work on your first game as a learning exercise, and break it down into parts that you can work on. With that in mind, a design plan is a good way to come up with a list of key tasks that you can work from to keep yourself on track while you are learning. Here is what I came up with for my design plan for "Space Octopus Attack!"
Game Treatment: “Space Octopus Attack!”
Protect the space-future of space-humanity from the space-octopus menace!
Genre: 2-D Space Octopus Shooter Adventure
Core Game-Play: Navigate a labyrinth of asteroids to seek and destroy dangerous space octopus monsters.
Distinguishing Features: Pilot a space-submarine to battle space-octopuses in the distant reaches of the space-future to protect space-humanity.
Story: The Red Orca is a special search and rescue vessel tasked with protecting mining craft in an asteroid belt infested with aggressive space octopods.
Backstory/Setting: In the distant space-future, space-humanity has begun mining asteroid belts for important resources. Mining operations and colonization have been threatened by the appearance of aggressive aliens known as octopods. These Space Octopuses attack ships and settlements, necessitating the creation of special patrol vessels to protect mining and commerce.
Player Role and Appearance: Players control a space-submarine patrol in the space-future. The default ship is the Red Orca (which is red) but other vessels may be made unlockable.
Goals & Tasks: Seek and Destroy the Space Octopuses. Rescue trapped mining vessels. Preserve endangered space-fish.
Aesthetic Style: 2D Vector Graphics.
Game-Flow/ Level Architecture: Scrolling Space Environments and asteroid mazes.
Core Mechanics & Interface:
- Player Spaceship: Moves forward and backward, turns left and right. Shoots torpedoes. Can be damaged by the Space Octopus.
- Space Octopus: Attacks the Player. Can be destroyed by torpedoes.
- Space Environment: Scrolling backgrounds.
Ultimately there is ample room for me to add features, but I have only outlined the bare minimum requirements in this first version of the document. As the project grows and small goals are achieved, I can work on adding features and content.