In the Unity RPG Core Combat Creator course lecture, “Start Designing Your RPG”, our instructor Rick Davidson teaches us how to fill out a Game Design Document and shows us examples of different types of  game designs! In this blog I’m taking my inspiration from Rick’s lecture and my experiences with playing video games, and I’m going to share some thought provoking discussions about the game design process.

A lot of this is based on my opinions, and there are so many game design techniques that I can’t cover them all in this. Study game design and learn all that you can, and please refer to Ben and Rick’s course, the Unity RPG Core Combat Creator, for more information about designing and programming an RPG (Role Playing Game).  Ben Tristem and Rick Davidson are awesome instructors!

Instead of thinking about a Game Design Document as something that you have to fill out quickly, so that you can get something done, please think of it like this:

Think of it as a manual or a map, which will help you focus on certain tasks and, in turn, help you develop your game. This framework and your experiences will help you decide which software, hardware, and programming language you will use to make your game!

First, I’m going to explain how characters’ backstories and designs shape your choice of game environment design and camera views. Second, I’m going to explain how character designs, game environment designs, and programming knowledge help you decide which game engine you will use. Third, I’m also going to explain how choosing a 2D or 3D environment can impact your choice of camera views. Last, I’m going to explain how the game environment design and gaming market, combined, will help you decide which platform or platforms to launch your game on.

Character Backstory Impacts Environment Design & Camera Angles

First, you need to know what your main character’s back story will be, because your character’s personality will tell you if he or she is adventurous, a nerd, an intrepid hero, a couch potato, etc. Characters’ personality types will determine their action moves in the game and will help you decide what your camera angles will be.

For instance, if your character is an intrepid soldier, with a gun, you may want a First Person Shooter Camera View, so players can feel like they’re there in the action. If your character is a medieval knight, with a sword, you may want a Third Person Camera view, so the character can swing his long sword around and players will be able to see the combat melee effects. If you’re character is a nerd who likes solving puzzles, you may go with a Third Person or First Person View, depending on the effect you want to create and the sizes of the objects used in the puzzles.

Character Design, Environment Design, & Programming Knowledge Impact Game Engine Choice

Next, you need to know what the character’s design style is, so you can decide whether you want to present the game in 2D or 3D. Some game engines are better for 2D environments and some are better for 3D environments.

Is your character ‘s design comic book style or cartoon style? If it is, you may want to present the story in 2D, because 2D is a great environment type for cartoon and comic style characters. 2D games are easier to make in game engines like GameMaker Studio and Stencyl.

If you’re working with a modern, novel style character or have a character from a real-life story, then the setting will be more real world in nature.  In this case, you will probably want to use a 3D environment, to make your story come to life. 3D game engines, such as Unity, Unreal Engine, Lumberyard, etc. are some of your options.

You can narrow things down further, when choosing a game engine, by considering some of the following factors. Consider your programming strengths and weaknesses, time constraints, and whether or not you can get a programmer to help you.

If you are better at a particular programming language, that will sometimes decide which game engine you will use. For instance, if your strength is C#, Unity may be your choice, because it’s made to work with the C# language. If you’re strength is C++, Unreal Engine works well with that language. If you are a beginner at programming or would rather make a game without having to program, GameMaker Studio or Stencyl are great options!

I also want to add that GameMaker Studio and Stencyl allow you to use programming to tweak game features, so that your games are more customized and original.

Environment Design Impacts Camera Views

Next, choose which camera angle or angles you want to use. If you choose a 2D environment, you will have the choice of making a side-scroller (with or without an angle) or an overhead-scroller (with or without an angle) or other type of camera view. If you choose 3D, you again have the choice of First or Third Person Camera Angles.

On the other hand, you could try a 3D Overhead Scroller or 3D Side-Scroller view. Those camera views would be a nice change of pace and a break from the norm, in my opinion.

Game Design, Controller Type, &  Game Market Can Impact Platform Choice

After that, you need to choose which platform or platforms you want to make your game for. Your choice of platform will usually be based on market research and the game’s design.

In some cases, the controller types available for each platform can decide which platform you choose. For instance, a controller with a trigger button is better for shooter games, and an ergonomically sound controller, with easy to reach buttons, is great for RPG’s, because it is more comfortable to use for long term game play. If you’re playing an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), which you will spend several consecutive hours playing, a keyboard and a mouse allow more freedom of movement and have more buttons than a controller. More buttons means more player options!

The processor power of each platform, in conjunction with your game’s graphics quality, can also impact which system/outlet you release your game to. Are you making the game for the XBox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Android, iOS, etc.?

For instance, if your game is made for a rich 3D environment, you may want to go with a console like XBox One,  PS4, or the Nintendo Switch, because they are great at processing detailed graphics and are cheaper to the public, than a $1,000 to $2,000 gaming PC. This would mean you would have more customers, and so long as you meet the developer requirements, green will be go!

On the other hand, you could go with a medium to low poly 3D environment, and that would open up the option to make the game for less expensive PC’s. For instance, some PC’s cost around $200, $300,  or $400, and that makes them more affordable than some game consoles. This would give you a more broad audience and the ability to market your games through services like Steam. More affordable means more customers can afford to play your game, and, in many cases, that means more money for you.

Some Closing Thoughts

There are other things to cover, like which systems each game engine can build for, but that will have to be covered in another blog.

I have enjoyed talking to you about the mental game design process. There is a great big world of game design for you to explore, so dive right in and have fun! Start your game engines, and have an awesome day, everyone! See you next blog!

About the Author:

I’m Elizabeth R. Laurie and I’m a taking the Complete Blender Creator Course, Complete Unity Developer Course, Unreal Engine Developer Course, Pass the Unity Certified Developer Exam Course, Make Mobile VR Games in Unity with C# Course, Automate Blender with Python Course, GIMP Foundations – 2D Pixel Art Drawing from Scratch Course, The Unity RPG Creator in C# – Core Combat Mechanics Course, and Game Physics Course. I love to learn!

I picked up my first coding book when I was 8 years old, but I was frustrated about the fact that the author didn’t explain how the code worked, and I was even more frustrated when the graphics on the screen were so bad. I mean, I went through 4 or 5 hours of typing code from the book, into the computer, and nothing spectacular happened! The light show was just dull lines being drawn on the screen! Boring!

Flash forward to the present! Technology has really grown, and now, I’m taking these awesome courses and learning a lot of cool things about programming and 3D animation! This time, the lessons are much clearer and the graphics are totally cool!

I have always been fascinated with animation and video games, and I plan to use these platforms to make clean, family oriented, entertainment. I also plan to revolutionize education and make it fun for everyone!