Design Practice questions

1. Which type of game are you going to create? Is it going to be heavy on story (as in the Final Fantasy games), or will character advancement and combat be the main thrust (as in NetHack)?

2. If it is story-based, how will you structure the quests? One big overarching quest with side quests or a more free-form approach? This will have an impact on the dif­ficulty of production and the feel of the game.

3. What is the setting for your game? Are you going for the standard science fiction/ fantasy fare, or are you using something else? Are you using a licensed work? Are you convinced that your setting is different yet recognizable enough to be compelling?

4. How will your world function? What are the underlying rules for the way the world works? Are they self-consistent and logical? Are they based on a preexisting system (as in Baldur's Gate)?

5. Is the player going to be given a group of avatars, or will he be responsible for a single character? Will his character be configurable (as in Arcanum), or will he be forced to take a predefined role (as in Anachronox)?

6. What will be the primary focus of your game? Will it be uncovering the story, improving the player's character, or combat and exploration? The majority of games attempt to cover all these bases equally, but some exceptional ones have focused more on one aspect, such as Anachronox and Diablo II. This affects the pace of your game.

7. What camera model will you use in your game? Will you use isometric 3D (as in the older BioWare games) or will you use a fully 3D engine (as in Fallout 3)? Will you use something else entirely?

8. Is your game going to include a magic system? How is this magic system going to be constructed? Will it be based on preexisting concepts, familiar regimes (such as law/chaos/good/evil) or something completely new? Will it be internally self­consistent or not? How will it be balanced with nonmagic forces within the game?

9. How will you handle inventory management within the game?

10. And finally, will your player's character end up saving the world? Are you sure you want to do that? Can you think of anything slightly more original (as in Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines, for example)?

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