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Some questions for a Design Document (Forums : Development Banter : Some questions for a Design Document) Locked
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Sep 21 2012, 1:23pm Anchor

Hello there. This is my first post here, so a few words about who I am! First of all, I'm simply a 20-year-old Physics student who loves videogames, simply put. I've been gaming since I was 5, and by gaming I include playing games of the 'Golden Age of Gaming' like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot, Battlefield, and the occassional 2D platformer. I find a lot of interest in computers and science so it didn't take long for me to get interested into making games instead of only playing them. I'm not delusional, I know this is HARD. I began far too many times saying 'OK, today, I'll start making a new game' and landed on my face! I'm a chronic procrastinator so from my experience, my only cure is proper organization. My technical skills are restricted; I've worked with procedural/algorithmic programming, made a few maps for some games, and a few models in Blender. But I like learning hands-on, and I tend to learn fast. 

Recently, as I was gazing around random objects in my room, I suddenly got a creative spark going. I ruminated the idea for a good two focused hours, considering serious aspects like how unique the game is. So I started putting ideas down on a draft paper that I now call my 'Design Document'. Specifically, I'm aiming for an action shooter in multiplayer form. Yes, I know this all cries out 'CS/TF ripoff', but it isn't. I'm working on a rather unique theme. I don't quite want to share an unfinished idea lest it will sound ridiculous, but what I can say is that I plan on including a lot of 'verticality'. Climbing, gliding, rappelling, parachuting and stuff like this. Anyway, I don't want to get overenthusiastic with this, so I decided to do some structured work this time. So here are some questions about the Design Document:

1) First of all, as I said, all I currently have is a draft. I have absolutely no idea on how to write a structured DD. So far, I only have some ideas on paper and not a complete description. Do you think it is good development practice to start low and move towards a bigger project, adding ideas parallel to adding features in the game or should I have a detailed essay about what my game is about before even touching the SDK? At the moment, I'm getting a bit of a writer's block so I can't quite move on! 

2) The idea I have is suitable for a Total Conversion only. But as I said, I lack the experience to go that far. I first want to have a small, playable form of the game and then expand. For example, I plan to include vehicles, which is a complicated feature to develop. So I was thinking of making some baby steps towards something bigger. First make a map, then add some art, then alter the gameplay variables a little, all the while studying game development aspects. When I get the knowledge, then I could add a simple vehicle. Could this work?

3) I currently can only depend on myself. Unfortunately, all other friends who are interested in game programming are either too busy, or worst procrastinators than I am. I'm not alright with asking for external help when I'm clueless, either. I want to be able to work with others only if I have something to contribute, not just the idea narrator. I know that Counter Strike had a core team of one person, but he could've been experienced. Is this feasible? 

Those are my questions for the moment. All in all, I'm looking for some pointers on how to get organized before starting. I want my efforts to be fruitful this time and not to result in another failed try. Thank you!

Ronnie42
Ronnie42 Forerunner
Sep 21 2012, 3:06pm Anchor

Well I have a degree in games design, I'm pretty much the same since I was around the 'Golden age', my first game was doom, ps love the games mentioned.

1) Well I recommend testing yourself to see if you can go through with the features/abilities you want to achieve. Once that's done try making your design document. My lecturer's always recommend starting small first then build up later.

2) Well the think about vehicles is that can be really confused unless you know what your doing. So I recommend mix it up, build your levels but focus on one thing or you might get distracted. Once you have a basic level design then it's best to clutter the map as much as possible.

3) I'm lone designer myself, even now I'm working on this which I build, change sometimes, the blogs are slow. The problem with doing it alone is that people can lose their motivation for the project which is why most projects end up being cancelled so it's best to keep at it. A tip I learnt to keep me motivated is to watch some 'tv shows online' while trying to model or making the level structure.

Hope you do well in the future.

Oh and this might help a bit:

Edited by: Ronnie42

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Doom Compile Project: link              Original Game's Design project: link         

TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer It's been a long time...
Sep 23 2012, 12:25pm Anchor

As unappealing as it might be to join up with people you don't know to help make your idea a reality -- it can sometimes pay off. Because of my joining other projects and recruiting, I've got a number of good people working with me on two small indie games right now. So you never know.

Also, finding GDD templates online is as easy as looking them up in Google. I frankly prefer one I found on Gamasutra Gamasutra.com

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