Game Design Process: Designing Your Video Game

Want to take you place amongst the great designers
in the video game industry? This is the second video in a two part series
where we are going to show you how to properly design a video game. After watching this video
you will know how to conceptualize and differentiate your vision, how to define your design priorities,
and how to communicate your vision so that you can gets others on board with your plan. This is the same design process that we’ve
observed at big gaming studies – and we’ve seen designers use this methodology to build
momentum and support for their ideas in the most competitive of industry studios. Welcome back! If you’re new to Ask Gamedev,
we make videos to help you learn about the games industry so that you can elevate your
games and Inspire others. If you’re on a gamedev journey, consider subscribing. We’d
love to help you along the way. As we mentioned at the top, this is part 2
of a series of how to design a video game. In part 1, we reviewed how and where to research
a design idea so that you can confirm that it has merit. Click the link here if you want
to go back and check that video out first. The research you complete from that video
will be very helpful in defining the design elements that we will review here. Deciding on “how” to design a video game
is a tough choice – there are countless different ways to approach design. In this video will
– but this framework is meant to be a guide only. You’ll definitely want to adjust it
to meet the specific needs of your game. The first step is to define your design pillars
– they are what makes your game great. Your design pillars are the must have elements
in your title, and is more than just a feature set. You need to define what makes these pillars
important – and you have to do it for each in one sentence. You should also not have
more than three to five design pillars- by limiting the # of pillars, you will make sure
to focus on what really matters. Let’s take a well-known game and give some
examples for design pillars. Fortnite is hugely popular at the moment – and you could potentially
define its design pillars as: hyper-competitive multiplayer battles
Limitless building capabilities Deeply strategic battle tactics
Accessible and fun visuals Light-hearted and humorous tone Those are just examples, but you get the point.
Design Pillars are not necessarily features, but what the consumer will think of first
and foremost what they think about your title. Once you have your design pillars defined,
you can start defining the details of the user experience – starting with your game
loop. A core game loop is the basic process that
the user will repeat throughout your game. Sometimes called an addiction loop, the core
game loop is the crux of your user experience. You’ll want to define the loop, and be sure
that you have the right incentives and rewards layered throughout this loop to ensure your
user retention is as high as possible. In mobile games, keeping your audience playing
the game is critical – and defining and optimizing the core game loop is a never ending effort.
Let’s take a look at a popular mobile game like Clash of Clans. In a simple illustration
– there are three major parts in Clash of Clans’ core loop: Collecting Resources, Building
& Training, and Battling. The player will continually progress through these three stages
throughout the game, with incentives sprinkled throughout in order to reduce the desire to
put the game down. Define your own game loop, have it align with
your design pillars, and make sure it’s fun and rewarding. If you know of any games with
great core loops that your fellow viewers should check out to help with this- let us
know in the comments below! Next you should define the magic moments in
your game. These are the specific points in gameplay that will delight or leave lasting
impact on the player. These are the moments that players will tell their friends about
– the moments that will cause users to jump out of their seat, or laugh, or scream.. Or
whatever it is you do when you are wowed. The magic moments list needs to be specific,
and again, should be defined in one sentence and be no more than 3-5 in total Let’s take a classic Nintendo title like
Mario Kart and give some examples for magic moments. In Mario Kart, you could suggest
that the user is delighted during the The moment when you cross a finish line and
your cart zooms off in the distance. Or, during the
The moment when you knock an opponent in the air with your red shell. Or, during the
The moment of just timing a drift perfectly and coming out with speed Again, you will want to customize this list
of for your specific title – But these are moments that will need to shine early in the
development of your game. You’ll want these moments to be front and center during every
demo you make as they will have huge impact and be memorable. Do you like mario kart? Let us know in the
poll above what you think about it’s most magical moment. So now you have design pillars, your core
game loop and magical magical moments. Now it’s time to define your full feature set
and what matters most in each feature. Your feature set is different from your design
pillars in that it is a list of all major elements of your game – regardless of their
importance to the end user. Some features may not even be visible to the user – like
content tools, or build systems. You’ll need to define your feature set so that you
have a holistic view of everything that is necessary for ship – and everything that will
need its own design. It’s also important to define “what matters most” for each
feature – which is what the key goal of the feature and what cannot be compromised. The
what matters most will guide your decision making when you design the specific features
– as well as when you have to make the tough compromises regarding the scope of your game. Let’s do a simple feature set and what matters
most example for another classic title – this time let’s use Grand Theft Auto. If you
were designing this game, part of your features set would be
the map feature that shows where the user in located in the open world. What matters
most for this feature might be “intuitive and simple location information.” Another
feature might be the driving mechanic. The what matters most of this feature might be
“accessible, failure-free driving” as GTA has easy to understand driving controls
and a very forgiving driving system that allows the user to run over virtually anything. So define your feature set and what cannot
be compromised by defining what matters most – as this will be the basis for your overall
development plan. So now, you have the pillars of your design,
your core game loop, and your magic moments. You’ve also defined the underpinning feature
set and what matters most for each item. The next step is to reflect all of those pieces
in short descriptors that will allow you to communicate your idea to others efficiently.
This might seem trivial – but this is a critical step. Most people need help from others with
developing a great game – and if you can’t communicate your vision in a way that gets
people excited, you should take that as a signal that you may be missing something important.
We recently did a video on mistakes to avoid when making games – check it out in the link
above. .
The first objective is to define your elevator pitch – or how you could sell your game vision
in a short elevator ride. This is a definition of what makes your game great in just a few
sentences. Let take the EA Sports flagship title Fifa
and suggest an example elevator pitch. For Fifa you might say: Authentic football action
using the stars and teams from around the world that you know and love. Unparalleled
strategic realism lets you control your squad with incredible precision. Visual accuracy
that showcases the beautiful game on the game’s great pitches. Now that you have your elevator pitch – you
will want to get even more specific and break your vision down to a single sentence – what
is often called a x statement or product razor. This is your game in one succinct phrase.
For an example of this let’s stay with Fifa – a good x statement for that game might be
“authentic football that makes the user the star”. Good X statements can act often
as branding tools – so make sure to iterate on this and spend the time needed to get it
right. Try out your elevator pitch and X statement
on friends and family. See if they react positively to your wording and understand your message.
Take feedback and iterate as needed – these definitions are living concepts and should
be updated as needed. The next thing you will want to define is
the order in which you will develop the various elements of your feature set. You’ve want
to start with a first prototype – typically on the most important of your feature pillars,
and something that is central to your game loop. From here, you will then want to create
the complete feature a roadmap – which is essentially all of the remaining elements
of your feature set put in order of expected delivery by development. Development planning is a deep topic, and
if you want more information on how to build a world-class development plan – check out
our recent video through the link above as it outlines the key tools and tactics that
industry experts use. We also wanted to address the common question
of how to detail the specifics of your design when working with a teams. We definitely recommend
erring on the side of brevity, as long design documents that outline minutiae in the game
can be inefficient to create and outdated as soon as development challenges your assumptions.
Often the right approach depends of the size of your team and the complexity of what you
are trying to build. When there are more people involved and the design is complicated, you
are probably best served by doing more documentation so that everyone has something concrete in
writing to work from. If it is a small team working on simple gameplay, sometime whiteboard
sessions or sticky notes can be effective. It all depends on the specifics of your situation
– but we do know that spending a lot of time writing documents is typically counter productive So now you know how some of biggest and best
publishers in the game space create video game designs. As we mentioned at the start
of this video – definitely adjust this framework to align with the needs of your specific game
idea. Thanks for watching – and let us know in the
comments what you plan to use – and what you plan to avoid from this design framework?
Don’t hold back – the viewer community needs your opinion! If you do like this video, considering
hitting the like button, or subscribing as we publish new content every week on how to
elevate your games. Hit the bell below to be notified as soon as a new video is available. What will you use – or avoid from this design
framework? Let us know in the comments.


  • Ask Gamedev

    Thanks for watching and supporting Ask Gamedev!
    What element of game design planning is most important to you?

  • Taro

    You should have way more subs!

  • Creature Feet

    I've watched a lot of videos but I don't think I've ever seen one that approaches it from this angle. Thank you for being one of the best game design channels and not just going the easy route of making quick decent videos that get decent views but go above and beyond to make the best content possible which for you guys is never less than knocking it out of the ballpark.

  • Derek MacNeil

    Great video. I think Civilization has a great core loop.

  • yashaswi ponnur

    please make a more on this topic with more examples!

  • J Talanian

    My left ear enjoyed this

  • Pigdev

    Excellent video! Concise and very insightful.

    One thing that I'd like to point out (and you did in the video but I'd like to reinforce) is that:

    Making huge documents is counter productive.

    So, make one very small and laser precision document to communicate one thing at time.

    The best way to do that is to make documents that answer questions. So, don't make them unless needed. E.g. if you were able to communicate to your team the design of the game, and they got it all, you don't need a design document. On the other hand, if you communicated it well, but someone asked "hey but which are the pillars?" make a simple document that, with the help of the team, communicate the pillars. If someone asks "hmm what about the sound?" make a simple document that explains how you ideate the sound. If someone asks "I got the design of the characters, but how will be the environment?" make an environment design document.

    I.e. just make documents if they will help you and your team to leap forward in development, otherwise just dig into the development itself 😀

  • Ask Gamedev

    Check out part 1 in this series on Design here:

  • Ankit Malviya

    could you fix the sound please. All the music is playing in right ear and your voice on left side

  • Joseph Duitsman

    OMG please stop saying Mareo Kart! Learn how to speak please

  • Renan Rocha

    I'm really astonished by the precision of the information and the clarity about the speak language! I'm literally in love with this channel <3 <3 <3

  • kingoftaurus

    Mary-O cart? WTF! And I just hit that subscribe button too…. Ugh nevermind.

  • zac courville

    I'm not experienced in game making even in the slightest bit your channel makes it seem as though I can make these through enough work and research, you guys are awesome keep up the good work!!

  • Владимир Скай

    Great video straight on topic!

  • marco marmolejos

    It's a great video. For me it wasn't clear where the iterative process in game design fits within the framework.

  • Sani

    I just realized this is quite a small channel, the quality of the video is through the roof in comparison to the sub count, i love the videos at the moment and i hope the channel continues to grow.

  • Rinaldo A. Bueno

    Game Design Process: Researching Your Video Game pt.2

    Main points:

    Design Pillars >

    Must have elements

    More than a feature set

    You have to define what makes this pillars important

    Define in one sentence

    3 to 5 design pillars

    They are no features

    What the consumer thinks of first on your title

    Game Loop >

    Repeated throughout the game

    Also called addiction loop

    The crux of the experience

    Ensure retention through rewards

    Clash of Clans -> Collecting Resources, Building & Training, Batting

    Be sure it is fun and rewarding

    Magic Moments >

    Shareable with friends

    Causes emotion

    Needs to be Specific

    On sentence definition

    No more than 3 – 5

    Mario Kart magic moments ->

    Cross a finish line (zoom of on the distance)

    Red shell Hit

    Drift perfect

    Feature Set

    A List of all major Elements

    Can be non-functional things (build, tools and dev related stuff)

    Everything necessary to ship

    What matters most for every feature -> the main goal of the feature

    What Cannot be compromised

    Guide your decision making

    Elevator Pitch

    Communicate your game with other efficient

    Critical step

    If you can’t describe your games in a way that make people interested, you probably miss something

    Mistakes to avoid when making games:

    Define your elevator pitch:

    What makes your game great in just a few sentences

    Fifa -> Authentic football action with the stars and teams around the world that we know and love. Unparallel strategic realism lets you control your squad with incredible precision. Visual accuracy that showcases the game beautiful.

    Then break your vision down to a single sentence (X statement or Product Razor)

    Fifa -> Authentic football that makes the user the star

    Iterate and get it tight (can take time)

    Try it with friends see reactions


    Order of Feature development

    Prototype (on the most important of your feature pillars)

    Central to your game loop

    Then start your complete feature roadmap (all your remaining features in order of delivery by development)

    It is really hard, check the video

    Docs while working with a team

    Keep brief, documents can be inefficient and outdated after your game diverts from your assumptions.

    The right approach depends on the size of your team and complexity.

    More people == more documentation.

    Writing docs can be counterproductive.

    Adjust the framework to your needs.

  • Victor Salamanca C. Koch

    speaking about game loop… what do you guys think about clicker/idle games?

  • Šonjo Show

    Can you make 3D modeling tutorial(s) please???

  • speedracer123222

    This is the best channel I’ve seen for dev help

  • Amaury Permer

    The magic moment of Mario kart is when your friend stops talking to you

  • Douglas Driving

    Hello! I am wondering if and how this way of designing goes together with an agile development mindset. It seems like there is a whole lot to decide before the development process start, but what if you realize that one of the core features has to be changed based on playtesting the first prototype? This might affect the other features as well and the whole feature list might have to be re-written. How do you think about this? How much can you decide before starting to prototype?

  • Branislav Hatala

    great video, but that background music makes me nauseous and sick.

  • Richard Osmar Leon Ingaruca

    Nice Video. Thanks!!!

  • EpicKingdom_

    If only the art would not cost me an arm and a leg.

  • Buster's Transport Videos and More

    This came in handy for my college projects 🙂 Thanks Ask Gamedev 🙂

  • Zan R

    In this video your voice is on the right audio channel only.

  • Andrew Potter

    Yeah the audio is really weird

  • Aster Davies

    Sorry but I can’t trust a video game designer who can’t pronounce MARIO…

  • The Demon Noof

    Merrio. lol

  • COD Bros

    Do you have your own game studio? If not are your looking forward to it?

  • Simple Imagination 88

    There are some ROBLOX games that have great game loops, like Mining Simulator. You have to mine blocks, sell blocks, then repeat.

  • Rotbart1337

    but how are you supposed to create a new big world without having a long game document? I mean all the monsters and stuff?

  • Erik Klembara

    What book would u recommend to get more information about this topic ?….Design pillars, Magic moments etc.

  • humman007

    In elevator pitch stage, should be also point about creation a visual first impression of game (logo, screenshots, trailer, few sec gif) its even more important than text because one picture is worth thousands of words

  • 임리

    LOVE this video and the channel. This video is the absolute NO.1 informative video about game design. Though I just had a thought that it would be even nicer if this channel uses easier vocabulary. Since I'm a Korean student I'm not really the master of english so I get easily stuck with words like 'retention' 'crux' 'erring' 'brevity'. So I have to pause video, google those words one at a time, and come back and resume. If you'd be so kind to care just a little bit more for non-english users like me, it would be wonderful.

  • Steven Teglman

    I am so happy YouTube recommended this video and your channel for me! I'm looking forward to more great content, keep it up!

  • rasronin

    Magical moment: watching a homing missile arc right into some little hearts dreams and hopes of actually winning against ME! I’m the man. I’m the man. Sorry that took me way back.

  • Rotbart1337

    could you make a videeo on agile game design? Cause that is what most indies do completly wrong.

  • Dark Matter

    Merry-o cart

  • Tony

    Happy to have seen the channel grow in subs so much! Valuable and inspiring content.

  • Gustavo Arias

    Does this framework have a name?

  • Your Neighbour

    My right ear enjoys this info

  • Fruitdude

    "limitless building capabilities" OMEGALUL

  • Anderson Queiroz

    I would feel creeped out of5 petiole were watching me work like that 7:48

  • Stevie Roder

    portal has a great core game loop.

    1.good story
    2. fun elevating puzzles that eventually get impossible.
    3. makes people think.

  • Ramie Mosely

    Coding your own games is easier than you think…

  • Owen Dacosta

    Injustice gods among us game loop for me is there power especially batmans

  • victor cass

    Merio kart?


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