Sunday, June 10, 2012

square-lined moleskine

I ran an errand today, to find a notebook. I know that I have more games to design, and that I like to design things on graph paper, so it follows that these future games will be designed, at least initially, on some kind of graph paper. I've been using regular 8.5x11 graph paper that can be found at pretty much any place that sells office supplies. 

I thought I'd try doing my next game –  the one after the one I'm working on right now –  using a moleskine notebook. The thing that particularly strikes me about using a moleskine, the pocket-sized ones especially, is not just that it can be carried pretty much everywhere I go and requires no electricity to record things into, but the pages are each sized just a little bit larger than a typical touchscreen phone. This is enough room to design a fixed-view screen/scene/level at actual size while leaving a fair amount of margin for jotting down notes.

Why am I doing something related to my next game, which isn't even really my next project? For the same reason that I've bought a moleskine notebook to design it in –  these things take time to bake. Maybe a better baking analogy would be proofing –  the process of allowing the dough to rise in a warm, moist space before putting it in the oven. I have an idea for the game that I find very much to my liking and showing many signs of being a good game for me to make. I am pretty certain that I would like to do something not centered around procedural content, i.e. with static level layouts. I know from experience that those can take quite a bit of time to work out the right designs for.  In the case of mobile phone games, individual levels aren't supposed to take very long for the player to complete, so in order to have enough 'meat' to the game, there is a fairly high quantity of levels that seems to me is generally expected at any price point. For the game to be worth someone's $.99, and especially to be able to command a higher price than that, the quality of these levels is what must go up.

As I fully intend to render the best possible quality of service in my capacity of game designer in addition to the highest possible quantity, this means spending a good bit of time preproducing something on the order of 100–200 levels. The specific gameplay is something I have yet to prototype, but like I said I have an idea or two of what I'd like to do, and I'll make a prototype probably some time after I finish this maze-on-a-voxel game (voxels as a theme, maybe?), obviously because I'd like to stay focused on finishing what I've got going now before moving on to anything else. In the meantime, I can still occasionally divert myself and sort of pre-produce the pre-production by working out design language and layout conventions on paper, in a very conveniently sized notebooke.


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