I have a lot of game ideas, but never the time to work on them. I don't want to lose these ideas, so I want to 'store' them somewhere to come back to in the future. Sometimes an idea isn't really that good, and coming back would help me decide whether a game idea is worth pursuing.

I plan to keep these in some kind of catalog form. I would like to be able to capture the 'feel' of a game in as few words as possible. Even if looking back at the design a few years later, the feel and atmosphere of the game should be recoverable very quickly.

This isn't really a full design document, but something like a 'one-page' summary.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is your question? \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor Powell Apr 5 '14 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh, edited it into question form. \$\endgroup\$ – Muz Apr 5 '14 at 9:00

There is likely no one, perfect way to describe & archive your game ideas. Every game designer I know would probably do it differently, but here are some techniques to consider (besides the ones provided by yourself):

Elevator Pitch

Create a (maximum) one-page document with as little text/images as you possibly can, to communicating the absolute core of your concept. This will force you to chose your words/images carefully and think about the essence of your concept

MDA Framework

Define your game using the MDA framework of Aesthetics (high level "feelings" the game should provide), Dynamics (major "systems" at play, as player interacts with the game) and Mechanics (low level rules and assets). The "aesthetics" part is overall feeling you want to provide, and serves to communicate the ideal end goal (feelings in the player's head) of the game, but your ideas might also dip into interestinc Dynamics. Likely you will not need to describe low level mechanics at this point.

One-page designs

Create your game design as a single page containing a schematic, sketch, flowchart or illustration, as inspired by Stone Librande's GDC Talk on the topic. The point being that if you cannot communicate the game on one page, the idea is too complex and needs revision. There is an excellent GDC Vault talk on this subject, but it requires membership.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A whole page for an elevator pitch? If someone tried to communicate an entire page of information to me during an elevator ride I would try to get away from them as quickly as I could. IMO, an elevator pitch should be 1-2 sentences that say what the game is and what makes it unique/fun. Sort of like a logline for a film. \$\endgroup\$ – bcrist Apr 6 '14 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I wrote MAX one page, and that would likely include images. But note that the usage of elevator pitch is often not meant to be taken literally. It's simply "as short as you can make it". At least it's been used that way in many of the companies I've worked for, e.g. an elevator pitch is just a short-format about-one-page concept description. \$\endgroup\$ – Loeffe Apr 7 '14 at 19:42

I don't mean to answer my own question, but trying to explain what I meant ended up so long that I might as well have put it as an answer. This is the technique I use currently, but I'm hoping someone with more experience in the industry can give a better answer.

Elevator pitch: Describe what the game is about in as few words as possible. Describe the genre and target market. What makes it fun and stand out from other games?

Game philosophy: What are features that necessarily have to be in the game to make it feel as it is? What 'feel' would players look for in sequels of the game?

Some examples would be "Can be played 5 minutes a day", "Players should be encouraged to cooperate but the mechanics can be used to settle conflicts", or "Pace must be suited to playing on online forums and email."

Core mechanics: Based on the philosophy, what technical components are vital to the game? On a very tight budget, which ones can be dropped? What code and programming languages are available that can do this right now and do they do the job well enough?

This part should make perfectly clear the technical and design challenges in creating the game, and cut out on the feature bloat.

Simplest implementation: The absolute fastest way to implement the concept and core mechanics. Can it be modded into an existing game? Which components need to be prototyped, which are tried and tested?

Sample of play: Similar to Dwarf Fortress's Power Goals or Stories. This is a brief rant about how cool the game would feel like. With a good enough game idea, it is inevitable to rant somewhere when describing the game, and this is left as an appendix to capture what inspired the game.


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