Time to (actually) learn some game design

It seems that I'm missing some critical skills

Published on Thursday, December 9, 2021

I've finally realized that I need to go back to basics and learn some proper game design skills. Better late than never, right?

What happened to the tycoon?

So last time I wrote about getting ready to create a tycoon game. I've started working on a prototype but then, somehow, I got lost. I thought that maybe I'm not that interested in tycoons - I've played a few of them again to look at some mechanics and got bored pretty quickly. So I've decided to abandon that project and start a new one - a simple browser-based RPG. I like RPGs so I thought that might be a good fit.

What happened to the RPG?

Once I'd thought about creating an RPG, I've started coding happily. I've drawn inspiration from games like A Dark Room, Candy Box and Megami Quest 1 & 2. I wanted it to be somewhat similar to Megami Quest (no actual fights, just progress) but with more depth and an actual story. I got to a point where I have some basic story going and things to do but moving around just felt meh. So I've added a battle system and spent time on coding the mechanics and battle UI. It was still meh. So I've started writing a proper story and spent a lot of time on coding story script parsers and creating dialogues etc. It was still meh. So I've... you can see where this is going.

Looking back...

I've stopped working on the game and realized it's time to do some thinking (finally!). I've looked back at my history as a game maker and realized that I have been repeating the same pattern over and over again: a loose idea -> code code code -> the game is meh -> abandon. I've never really sat down to flesh out the idea, to properly design the game! Even the few projects I've managed to finish were done like that and thus not that fun. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours of coding with no clear direction and thought. I've even read a few books on the subject and somehow didn't pick up that I need to design the game first. It's kind of amazing.

What's next?

It's time to learn some actual game design. I've dug up my books and ordered a few more. I'm going to do exercises like a proper student (I've always omitted them...). And I'm going to design games, long before I start coding them!

Wish me luck!

You can checkout out the RPG prototype here