I made a game prototype recently that got me excited. It was just coded together in Flash, a puzzle game called Sky Garden.
A great mentor of mine taught me that when you work on a game you should always have design pillars, the major themes or goals you have for the game The game had a few design pillars:
First, as a design goal I wanted it to be simple to create levels and content. I had done a game previously that was about 30 minutes of game play time, but it took me about 2 hours to create a level. It was extremely heavy on the custom content. So the goal for this game was to be able to create a new level in about 10 minutes or less. I ended up reaching that goal, it took less than 5-10 minutes to make a new level, since each level was basically arranging a grid.
Two, I wanted there to be a correct order that you needed to interact with the gameplay elements. Interacting with the same pieces in the wrong order meant you would lose, while interacting with them in the correct order would allow you to win. When I was prototyping, this was a good way to quickly try and eliminate a lot of ideas for how the system would work. If it didn’t work like this, then I would move on to another idea.
Third, my wife had to enjoy it. My wife doesn’t play many games. She played the Sims years ago, she loves trivia and board games, but that’s about it. I noticed a few things about the games that my wife did enjoy: they never involved time pressure, they (obviously) weren’t overly masculine in their themes, and they were “smart”, involving some thinking. So I worked all of these into my design.
I was happy with how it turned out, and now I’m developing a new game based on this concept. No name yet, but it’s an all new design, all new art, all new code, but based on some of the gameplay concepts.
I’ll be posting my updates here on my blog as things progress!