I've been finding that many of my projects fall into the abyss of my "game mechanic tests". That is, they aren't really "games", but rather sandboxes where I try out various things and find some mechanics that would be fun.

Now, I'd like to actually create a game out of some these ideas. Since so many of my "games" end up turning into additional sandboxes when I get distracted by a new idea("whoa, that's cool", and suddenly the whole game completely changes.. twenty times.. sometimes back and forth between several competing ideas), I'd like to actually plan out the mechanics, how they will fit together, and altogether how the game will work as a whole, even though I know I still need to be semi-flexible for when things play-test differently than expected.

This is compared to my usual strategy of, "Let's just get started and then I will build a game out of whatever I create" mindset.

What techniques are used for planning out a game idea (even if just roughly), before actually just jumping in? Is there specific software which helps? How do I go about managing the planning phase in general and keeping things up-to-date if things start to change?

See this great answer on a separate question for the type of actual design I would like to work on for my game, opposed to the programming focus I generally approach things with.


1 Answer 1


A successful voyage requires four things:

(1) - A destination, (a goal)
(2) - a map, (plan)
(3) - a capable ship & crew, (skills)
(4) - and a stead-fast captain. (perseverance)

You need to clearly state a goal, preferably a small one to begin with. Outline how you will go about achieving your goal. Make sure you have the skills to do it. And promise that once you start you'll keep going.

Then begin.

You must stick to your plan, do not add a single extra thing. NOT A SINGLE THING! If you think of a cool thing to add to your game. Write it down, file it away, and leave it UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED. This is really important. This is the hardest part about making anything. You earn those extra cool features by completing what you set out to do in your plan. Even if the thing you are making is crap, and your specification needs extra work. DON'T CHANGE IT just get it finished, and you incorporate the improvements into your next project.

Once done you have to mentally affirm that the thing you just made is it's own complete stand-alone thing, and this it is finished and you will not touch it any more.

Now that you are finished, repeat the process again. If you are unhappy with the finished product you just made, make the necessary changes to your plan. Outline once again how you are going to do it. Make sure you have the skills to proceed. And start afresh.

If you can learn to set a goal, and stick to it, the rest will fall into place. I promise.


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