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What Is Your Game?

The first step in game design is having a game to design. As much as we want to just dive in and make the game right now, it does not work to create a game when we have no idea what we are going to make. It is like making a cake, but not knowing what ingredients go into the cake to make one.

Thankfully, as with a cake, there are some basics that we know are likely to be needed. For a cake we need flour, eggs, liquid, pans and some way to heat the cake enough to cook it. After that we need something to frost the cake with – which comes with its own list of ingredients. For now, let’s focus on the basics of our cake game. We know we can’t make a cake without flour, and we can not make a game without a concept.

How to Make a Game Concept

A concept is easy to come up with, all you need to do is start sketching out ideas on a notepad and something will sound like the next great idea in gaming. Take a notepad, or scrap paper, or a new document on your computer, and start writing. Do not worry about what you are going to write, just start writing something and see what you can come up with. Start with a game you love or one you have thought “I could do better than this” and sketch out a few ideas for what you would want to do in your own game.

I am a fan of role playing games (RPGs), so I am going to create an RPG as the basic test game. This is a bit too broad, however, since RPGs come in all shapes and sizes, from fantasy to science fiction. While I am a fan of both science fiction and high fantasy, I need to narrow the focus down to something I can work on without having too huge of a canvas to cover. I would love to do some kind of mix of the generas one day, like the old Spelljammer games from the 1980’s. A story about someone in a futurist world where space travel and magic are both common. Mass Effect has something like this in their Biotics skills, but I’m looking for more of a epic fantasy style of magic, for now I will just stick with a high fantasy in the tradition of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series (who doesn’t love Skyrim?).

So, the concept is a high fantasy game, something with humans and elves and dwarves and dragons… all of the clasic races and creatures that we think of when we think high fantasy.

Play with your own ideas for what kind of game you want to create. Maybe a lost dog trying to find their way home from across the city? I had considered one with a lost cat that had to escape the dog pound then find its way home. Maybe you want a game about taming dragons to ride them in races? That is another one I was thinking about, raise and tame a dragon, then ride it in races and medieval tournament jousts and obstacle courses. I might later on implement this sort of mini-game into my world, we’ll see how it shapes up. Or maybe you want to make an update to the classic Asteroids? Asteroids in 3D, now that would be neat.

Whatever you decide to make, I am hopefully going to cover information you will need to bring it to life in the course of making a my work-along game. And, since I am going to be using Open Source, this is something that anyone can pitch in on or work along on their own ideas using the same programs and information I am going to be sharing here.