Like the title says, this is a game building checklist.
I love checklists, and I have a strong believe that processes should exist, because they allow us to stop using our most precious resources (time and human energy) on things we’ve already figured out, and allow us to stand on top of those things in order to come up with other, cooler stuff.
So, I’m creating this checklist and I keep digging into game development and seeing what other people have to say is the step-by-step of game building. I’m going to keep adding sections here, and also adding tidbits of infomation into each section that help to Drill Down into the different parts as they make more sense and, specifically, as they become more actionable.
I have a reference list at the bottom of this page but I also create quotes to be links back to the original source if that is at all possible, because I respect that people have put their time and energy into syphoning down the information they had, so I want to make sure you have access to whatever cool thing they were working on.
The Actual Idea
Watertight Concept – The game has to make sense throughout.
Simplicity Is Good
It’s tricky to achieve simplicity, but it’s essential for communicating your game idea to potential team members, publishers, games press and ultimately gamers. If you or your game trailer can’t get across the concept quickly, you risk losing people’s interest.
Support Core Mechanics First
Make the core aspects of your gameplay look and sound great, and then radiate your resources outward from that core focus. If you’re spending time making button rollovers look and feel great you’re wasting time…
Identify Your Target Audience
How The Game Controls
Responsive Controls Controls have to be close to perfect, if not perfect.
Player Is King
The player should always feel in control of the game. They are allowed to feel like they’re crap at it, that’s fine, but the moment the game feels like it’s too hard to play as a result of the controls being too difficult, it stops being fun. Just getting this bit right takes a lot of effort, and is probably the main reason why games are cloned so often.
Learning Curve or Difficulty Ramp
Appropriate Learning Curve The game has to challenge players in a way that’s fun throughout.
This whole idea is much simpler if you identify your target audience first.
Modern games don’t have instructions, or even tutorials. The levels should be designed to teach, and actually that philosophy shouldn’t just cover the first few levels either.
Rewarding Input and Effort
Positive Feedback & Reward Good games are full of positive feedback for the player.
Find The Toy Finding The Toy is a phrase that refers to setting up an action and reaction that makes the player feel powerful, regardless of any rules or challenge being imposed. Cutting the rope in CutTheRope is a toy. It’s fun to swipe and cut, and watch something fall. Flinging a bird with a catapult has proven to be quite a good toy too. Games with toys at their core are fun to play around on regardless of any challenge the player is being tasked with.
Provide Clear Success Markers Scoring a player provides them with incentive, so it’s really important that a player knows how to win, and therefore knows how and why they failed.
Dealing with Player Death
Instant Restart This is so much more important. If your game is good, your player is going to be in a flow state, fully engaged with your game. If they make a mistake or die, they are going to want to restart as soon as possible, to get back into the flow. Not being able to instantly restart is one of the most frustrating things you can do in a game UI.
Menus, HUD, and Interactive Interface
Frictionless User Interface The UI has to be streamlined to keep the player engaged.
Fast Animation My basic rule for UI animation is that it should be over well before a player knows what’s happening. If your UI is any longer than that, it had better be bloody fantastic.
Skippable Cut Scenes
I shouldn’t even have to include this, but it still happens. Even worse is when levels that start with a cut scene play the cut scene every time you restart that level. It’s punishing.
Visual and Audio - The Look and Feel
- Put something to do here?
- Added this page
- Swapped from text view to Accordian view to test cataloging.
- Decided to paste quotes as text with links embedded to speed up the Reference process.
- Added a “References” section as well.
- Added a Resources section and added the first book