Indie Game Studio

How to start a game (the basics)

I just wrote this for my students. It mainly focuses on making a platform game. Some of the work comes from other sources and some of it is my own. I just thought I would share in case anyone was interested.


Game Title: Come up with an awesome title for your game.

Elevator Pitch: An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define your game. Write a 1 to 2 sentence summary of your game and what makes it unique.

Similar Games: List 1-3 games that are similar to your game.

Gameplay/Mechanics: Game mechanics are constructs of rules intended to produce a game. The interaction of various game mechanics in a game determines the complexity and level of player interaction in the game. Make a complete list of which game play mechanics you would like to include. Try to be specific and think of everything that might make your game more engaging and unique.

Some examples of game mechanics: (If you need some ideas)

  • Instant Death – Something causes the player to instantly die, such as spikes or bottomless pits.
  • Forced Constant Movement – The player cannot stand still at any point.
  • Block Puzzles – The game involves standard sized objects that must be moved around in a specific way.
  • Game Keeps Gets Harder Until You Die – Like “Game Repeats Until You Die” except the difficulty level also keeps increasing.
  • Teleports – Rather than moving conventionally, the player can teleport to different parts of the screen. The player may or may not be able to control where the teleport goes.
  • Squad – Rather than a single character, the player controls multiple characters that must work together to achieve an objective.
  • Scarce Resource – There is an easy way for the player to fight enemies/score points, but it is a scarce resource. The player needs to balance hoarding the resource vs. using them effectively.
  • Jumping – Almost always combined with gravity, the player must jump from one platform to another and not fall. This includes, wall jump, double jump, and flip gravity.
  • Timed – The player must achieve a task within a time limited. Some power ups or achievements can extend the time.
  • Protect a Target – The player must not only stay alive themselves, but protect a target from enemies. The target may or may not be moving.
  • Undirected Exploration – The player has a large map that they can wander freely around, although obtaining items or solving clues will help open up new areas. The player often backtracks through places.
  • Bullet Hell – The player is surrounded by a very large number of enemies or deadly objects. They are easy to handle individually but difficult in large numbers.
  • Brawling – The player’s character has several different types of attacks (mostly melee, not ranged) to use against one or multiple enemies.
  • Dialogue Tree – When the player talks to other characters, they select one of many possible things to say.
  • Building – The player can place different types of building blocks anywhere in the world to construct objects.

Level Design: (Answer the following questions underneath level design.)

Plan your physics first

Considerations of stretched physics include; gravity, bounciness, slipperiness, friction and buoyancy, as they relate to the behavior of the avatar and other game entities. Considerations of defied physics include; changing direction in mid-air (a la Mario), double-jumps, flying and walking on water.

  • What type of physics would you like to include?

Define your vertical and horizontal movement

For the basic horizontal locomotion of the avatar considerations include: walking, running, jumping, tumbling and skidding. For basic vertical locomotion of the avatar considerations include jumping, climbing, sliding and falling.

  • How will your character move horizontally? Avoid including all possibilities and include only what the game needs.

 Define your key level components

Define your common surface blocks; stone, metal, earth or some combination? Do any of these inhibit or enhance running or skidding? Define your surface modifiers; ice, snow or mud? Do they add slipperiness? Affect running?  Define your dangerous surfaces; spikes or lava? Do they hurt? End the session? What about trap doors?

  • What type of surfaces will your game include?

 Define your vertical movement modifiers. Upwards movement objects may include ladders, vines, ropes, stairs, elevators or springs. Downwards movement objects may include ladders, vines, poles, slides, stairs, ropes or elevators.

  • How will your character move vertically?

 Define your game entities

 Will there be enemies? How big will they be? Will any fly? Jump? Will there be weapons and tools? Power-ups? You don’t need these entities defined in detail before you start building levels (though it helps) but at the very least you need a sense of what the levels will contain, so you can build the topography accordingly.

  • What type of enemies will your game include? Will there be boss battles?  What types of power-ups would you like to include? What other items would you like to include?

Background Asset List: What is the setting of your game? What backgrounds do you need? Make sure to include layers such as clouds, sky, fog, buildings, rocks, and anything thing else you can think of.  You might want to prioritize which levels you create.

Art Asset List: (Before you begin making your art list pick a scale. Most games are made 16×16 or 32×32 for a block size. This scale will help you draw all of your items so that they stay proportional.)

List all of the art that you will need for your game. This includes all of the characters, enemies, items, power-ups, buttons, title logo, game and scenery. With each asset list the types of animation that you will need. For example underneath the main character you should include jump, walk, idle, and attack.

Sound Asset List: List all of the sounds you will need. This may include jump, run, walk, shoot, power-up, hit, damage, death, win, select,  next level, explosion, item pick up, reload and many others.

Music Asset List: What style of music do you want? How many songs do you need? This may include: menu, main level, boss battles, and game over.




One response

  1. praveen

    Hey there!
    I am really bugged with Gamemaker, i have the master collection as i really wanted to make a game.
    i am able to do well with all drag and drop features but the scripts and codes , i am not able to get them and sometimes i feel without scripts and codes the game is a,
    its difficult for me to learn these codes, please help me how to learn these

    March 31, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s