Conceptualizing a Video Game

Pick a Game Idea

Common Sources of Game Ideas:

  • Take an existing game, and replicating it.
  • Take an existing game, and innovating a little.
  • Take an existing game, but in a different setting.
  • Combining two or more genres or games to create a new experience that poses a different set of challenges.
  • Brainstorming Game Jam Themes

Game Jams

ggj-logo Ludum Dare Jam Jams

Write a Game Design Doc

A Game Design Document (GDD) is a document that contains all of a game's design details. It functions as a written blueprint and can be as broad or specific as necessary.

What are the High Level Details?

What theme, genre, goals, features, game pieces, game loop, progression, rewards, art style, type of music, target platform/s, etc. Who is the Target Audience? What are your expectations of the player experience? What emotions do you want the experience to evoke from the players?

What are the Game Mechanics

  • Elaborate on all of the rules, mechanics, systems, game objects, functionality, interfaces, control schemes, and game options.

What is the Art Direction?

  • Solidify the art style and list out the necessary assets, such as environements, characters, props, music, and sound effects.
  • Establish a more cohesive theme and aesthetic.
  • Sketch out environments, levels, characters, and game objects to get a sense of scale and art direction.
  • Make Wireframes of the UI and HUD Elements.

What is the Story?

  • Describe the setting, the game world, story, premise, lore, characters.
  • Describe the basics of the lore, world building, story beats, plot, narrative, and character interactions. Storyboard scenes and cinematics of key plot points.

Update the GDD Over the Course of Development

  • The GDD is a living document and should contain the most recent design of the game as it will serve as a reference during development.
  • But, it is very likely design will change after several sessions of prototyping, playtesting, and discussing.

Evaluate the Scope

Narrow Down the Scope to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

  • Determine what are the essential features that makes up the game (mechanics and systems).
  • Determine the minimum mount of content that you think the game should offer (characters, levels, events, art, audio, etc).
  • Remove any Features that are not necessary for creation of the Game
  • Set the minimum amount of content that you want to be in the game.
  • If necessary, mark content you are willing to cur from the game.

Could You Make this Game?

  • Do you have the skills to make the game?
  • How long will it take to make this game?
  • Can your team execute this game idea and create a finished product in the desired production timeframe?
  • How much time and money would it take to make the game?

Should I Make My Game Idea?

Make the Games You Want to Make.

  • Follow your passion and make the game you want to make.

Making Games is Hard.

  • Don't underestimate how long it takes to make a game, no matter how big or how small the game idea.
  • Making a complete game of any size is a difficult process.

Make Small Games First.

  • Smaller Games are more manageable to produce, team members are more likely to stick around, and there is a greater chance the game will get finished.
  • They give you the opportunity to develop your skills, and get a better grasp of the game development process.
  • Allows you to build up a Portfolio of Games you made.

Turn Your Big Game Idea into Smaller Games.

  • Compartmentalizing development of a Big Game into Smaller Games makes it easier organize and tackle development.
  • You can combine the work and experience from making smaller games into larger games.
  • The feeling of progress will help with maintaining your motivation to work on a game that may take years to complete.
  • By accomplishing small goals, it becomes easier to achieve big goals.

Avoid Design Pitfalls

Don't Waste Time Perfecting you GDD

  • A game's design is always subject to change.
  • You don't know if a design works until you make it.
  • Start Making Your Game.

Avoid Feature Creep

  • Don't continuously add new features and content to the game's design over the course of development.
  • Focus on achieving the game's Minimum Viable Product before adding additional content.


Full List of Game Jams

Full List of Design Tools