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Here we will share a few considerations when getting started with your design. This article is meant to be a kick off point that launches you into your own research or further reading in our various articles here in.

Step 1

This is the easiest part to do and the hardest part to do right.
Everyone has a great concept in mind ... usually many ... that really doesn't mean anything.
Step 1 isn't a step at all but a process and can take a few forms but will generally be a process where you answer the questions similar to those we show below, in no particular order.
Your answers to these should be short and vague. This isn't the design its self, its you writing down what the design should define.
  • What Often described as your 1 liner or elevator pitch, what we really mean here is that you have a complete thought about what this thing your building is going to be. It doesn't need to be supper detailed but it does need to be a uniquely definable thing.
  • Who Your audience basically, who are you creating this for. For most indies "Who" is probably you or rather someone like you ... or possibly like someone that is close to you. Its that proximity to self that makes many indie games really feel like projects of passion... that isn't always a good thing so at least consider aiming your "Who" at someone with understandable and obtainable needs and expectations ... which probably isn't you
  • Why Why this and why now, don't get stuck on this one, your "feels" about the concept can be sufficient at this point but understand why you lean in this direction it will be critical for later research and development.
  • How In many cases you don't really need to write anything down here if your "What" is within the realm of past experiences or at least things done by others before but you do need to think about how "you" are going to do this.
  • When Not really a matter of dates but rather time, is this a big long running project or a tiny little short thing. This will tie into almost every other factor when considering your design.
To answer these effectively you need to get started on market research sooner than later.

Market Research

Simply put market research is the researching or gathering of information about your target customer's needs, preferences and expectations. You probably know this term as a feature of marketing and that is true, marketing teams will perform market research to understand a products position in a given market.
Market research is used for more than marketing and should be taken into account when developing and refining your game design.

Next Steps

Where you go after step 1 depends on the specifics of your concept but is generally going to be a matter of research and documentation. Rather or not you intend to "pitch" your project to anyone you should consider creating a pitch document or presentation. The process of constructing that pitch, the work you would put into convincing others to fund this venture that will help you construct the framework of your design.
You can find a lot templates and guides on creating a pitch document or presentation online but the following subsections describe the nuts of bolts of what should be included.
I found this some time ago and it really helps me think about a well rounded pitch document.
Regardless of its authenticity it is a simple, well formed pitch and a solid jumping off point.


Here you spend no more than 2 short paragraphs hooking your audience, and if you do hook them it will nearly always be in the first 2 to 3 lines. The work you did in step 1 is a fine place to start with this. If you are going to pitch this to others spend some extra time refining your "Why" answer to really give a good reason why someone else should give a
about your idea.

Design Summary

This section is about painting a picture of the game for the reader. This helps show the reader that you have through about your project and gives them the tools they need to do their own analysis on the viability of the project. What you put in your design summary will depend a lot on the specifics of your game but in general would include things like (in no particular order)
  • Overview Store page summary like overview of your game. This sets the expectation of other sections and makes it easier to understand the parts as you describe them by providing a lose overview of what the whole thing will look like. Again think of this a lot like the summary paragraph on a typical Steam store page, short, to the point and gamer focused.
  • Setting and Plot Paint that visual picture of the game, focus on the aspects of your setting and visuals that lean into the strengths of your team, of your target market or otherwise show that its worth the effort. For narrative games plot plays on setting and will help define that audience your aiming at and the position in that market.
  • Gameplay The point is to help the reader imaging your game as a playable product so describe how the game will be played, how it will impact the user. Focus on key features, modes, mechanics or other aspects that set your project apart from the other 1000+ games that will release on the very same day.
  • Engagement How does your game engage the user, this is so much more than just gameplay but can touch on aspects of your game that extend out side it (social, streaming, fan fic, etc.) as well as the factors in your game that draw your player back. Some of the common things to note here might be
    • Progression systems
    • Lore
    • Community features
    • Events ,etc.
  • Monetization How will you position the game in market, this needs to cover your launch, on going maintenance, contingencies and anything else that will impact the game projects cost and revenue e.g. factors that impact profitability of the project. Even if you have no intent on making any profit on the game you still need to think about this since it covers how your going to handle outgoing costs as well as incoming revenue.

Project Plan

This is a short summary of the anticipated project life and something you should be adjusting over the life of the project. This should express how long you think the project has remaining, how much effort you have put in so far as well as any significant milestones, staffing needs and decision points.
The project plan will change over time ... sometimes multiple times a day.
Be sure to return to your pitch and update it frequently so it can reflect reality as closely as possible. Even if you never plan to let anyone see it, this simple document can be a huge help in your design and development phases.