If you are at all like me, then you may have at one time opened up Macromedia Flash and just started making a game. Maybe you had a vague idea of what you wanted the game to do, or maybe you made it up as you went along. This shows that you have a strong creative side and are probably good at developing ideasbut it is not a very good approach to designing a game. With this design-as-you-go approach, you are sure to encounter problems. I have been in this situation before and always ended up wishing that I had planned for certain things in advance.
That's how I came to learn the hard way that you have to have a plan. Yes, tedious as it may seem, that's the big secret. A plan will help you identify possible problems ahead of time and anticipate steps for avoiding or solving them before they ever come up.
In this chapter we'll discuss one game-design process that can help you structure your ideas and build your game intelligently and efficiently. This simple design process will help you plan for every part of the game. (Of course, I don't claim that this is the only way things should be donethere are many equally effective processes out there. This just happens to be the one that works best for me!)
I use the word design here to encompass everything about your plan, including your idea, your code, the graphical elements of your gamethe whole works.
The Design Process
All the tasks involved in creating a game can be organized within the steps of the seven-step program I'm about to lay out for you. You'll soon see why: These top-level, quantifiable steps will be relevant to any sort of game. We'll illustrate the steps with the recognizable example of a game of 8-ball (pool). And now, here is the process.
Find an idea.
Identify your audience, and modify your idea to fit it.
Decide on the look and feel of your game.
Identify what you do not know how to accomplish, and find the resources to help you accomplish it.
Cut back on game features where necessary.
Build the game.
Test your game for bugs and usability (quality assurance).
Looks pretty easy when it's just a list, right? Now let's talk about each of the parts of this process.