3rd Year Games Design student at HSAD. All the work produced by me for the client project; dynamO, a concept for a monowheel racing game.
Since the deadline draws nearer and nearer, focus needs to shift from research and designs to actually thinking about what the final game design document requires from us. So my gameplan from now on is to sequentially work through the document aspects and make sure i fill all those in. Then when/if time permits me, work on alterantives and other such bits and bobs. The first section given to me and Luke by Matt was ;
5.3. Screen Flow
5.3.1. Screen Flow Chart – A graphical description of how each screen is related to every other
5.3.2. Screen Descriptions – What is the purpose of each screen?
188.8.131.52.Main Menu Screen
184.108.40.206. Video Editing Screen
220.127.116.11. Social Media Screen
Instantly i was overwhlemed. why? It all boils back down to the idea of assumptions, and what we know, what we think we know, and what we think we think we know. Then acting upon those, rather than seeing what someone else knows or better yet, what ‘is’. A good real example of assumptions and me in particular is this blog post : http://clientproject.posterous.com/immersion-within-a-game-menu , where i discuss my old idea for a menu system, from a completely visual standpoint. Ive shown basic thinking about whats gunna be in this menu but even then its very typical and cliche in terms of whats screens i included. I assumed i knew the gist of what menus are, when in reality i havent even scratched the surface with intense game playing.
Bringing back to the work i have to do, the first thing to tackle is a screen flow chart. Now i had discussed through my sketchbook rough thoughts and mentioned different assumptions about how the menus connect to each other but never really considered documenting it or giving it my time. I wish i had done now (Red face), i have no recollection of exactly how a flow chart is made. All i remembered was that it is a diagram explaining the ‘flow’ from one situation to another, covering all indescrepencies along the way.
Matt had scribbled up this idea since we were discussing difficulties i had in figuring out what menus we needed. Since hes almost adopted this project as something for him to lead, i tend to run things by him first. It was his game idea afterall. You can see from his above sketch that it even confused him. If wed have thought of doing this sooner it couldve given us the red lights we needed to focus our worries and planning (Rather than bitching about who gets to have fun :P) Once he had jotted this down i had a much clearer idea of everything that needs to have a menu screen. Things like the multiplayer side of things, and how a player is led through the menus was something i struggled in even thinking about, so having this information i wanted to knuckle down and work on a flow chart. Without an understanding at all of how a menu would play out in the form of a chart, i scoured around google for game related examples. I came across a few examples of game design documents which i cant find the links to now (Damn you late blogging!)(UPDATE: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~pjd37/Intro_Gaming/GDD/gdd%20samples.htm) if i do find them again ill be sure to put them up. One i did keep the link to was this tutorial on organizing game developments;
This site was pretty much the document Matt was basing ours from, but simplified and very thoroughly explained, not only what its for and how it does it, but why we do it and the relevance to the overall progress it has. This has been a paramount help in understanding areas in games design i often overlook (Assumptions! tut tut) and really helped me garner a bigger interest into the inner workings of game development; rather than just making pretty models. More on that in a seperate post, for now i wanted to focus on the menu. The website provided a really good and clear example of a good menu flow chart ;
Taken from a document from a Scavenger Hunt game design document. It gets the rough idea across and you can visualize how the game would pan out if you were to buy it and try playing it. The squares dictate stop screens, these are times when a player will be presented with options. The ovals are for finale screens, were options and settings would be visibile but the menu doesnt branch any further down, only back. The diamonds represent an event thats outside of the menus controls, usually a realtime situation like gameplay. This flow chart for me is two things, its a reference for an industries programmers and artists to collaborate whilst understanding the end goal, but its also a good way of project managing. From this flow chart you could divide poeple up into screen content. Very useful indeed. The game this chart was made for would be considered simple compared to most triple A games today. Sticking to just the concept in my head, it was confusing me how id go about adding and fitting things like multiplayer and character customization into an approaching messy diagram. My first attempts at jumping straight in with photoshop proved futile, These attempts werent uploaded because it was literally me trying to copy the previous image, resulting in very wrong flow charts. Instead i did the logical thing and started breaking down the problem areas in my own sketchbook based off Matts original list;
Very very hectic, some would say surprising considering the relative neatness of Matts attempt which came first, but thats how i do. The large green circles emphasize my reasons for doing another one to get my head around it. These areas are ones that i couldnt make sense of in my head, so i worked them out on paper. I started to realize that comparing my work to the example one from tutsplus+ wasnt a good idea to stick to 100%. The complexity of our games means my chart will be a coll
ection of flow charts, controlled and directed by the hub of the whole thing which is the main menu, thinking in a sequential way made it a lot easier to plan and eventually create. I took chunks like the race >to> hub loop, and the online race loop before tying them in to an overall web. I wanted to do some touch ups and post the Flow chart i ended up with seperately, so i could include a little descriptive paragraph.