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  • The Structured Path To Making An Online Game

    - Charlotte Walker
  • From simulation to adventure games, making an online game can be a lot harder than it seems. The process of making an online game is a highly structured one, with each step building upon the last. With the right process, you'll be able to break the entire project into small, incremental steps, reducing the amount of redundant work that needs to be done.

    The reality is that anyone with basic computer skills can create a simple game using the right tools, such as the drag-and-drop Scratch software. However, to create a complex and successful game requires a highly dedicated and experienced team, hundreds to thousands of invested hours, and creativity and innovation.

    If your goal is to create a game that will become a successful online title, be ready to work in a systematic and organized process that involves collaborating with fellow experts in the game development field.

    Here's how you get started:

    Begin With a Game Design Document

    Before you start any programming or development, you need to create a game design document. A game design document is a lot like a business plan. It's comprised of three major portions:

    Part of the 72-page Grim Fandango game design document (Source)

    1) Game Concept

    What kind of game are you developing? Consider a puzzle game: you would need to define what makes this game special and different from other competitors, what its major themes are, and what audience it's intended for.

    With today's quick development of video games and the many software tools available to game developers, the gaming industry is quickly becoming oversaturated with seemingly similar games. They have the same feel, aesthetics, game-play and point system.

    After all, how many more versions of Bejeweled or Candy Crush can be created and reach high levels of success? Although many cookie-cutter versions of these successful games are created, very few manage to attract enough players.

    Even Candy Crush is a copy of a prior game, but it's design and concept surpassed the original's success

    The industry with the most intense game competition is online gambling, which unsurprisingly make up a large chunk of the online gaming market.

    Gambling games tend to fit the usual activities of card games like poker and blackjack, slot machines, sports betting, bingo and lotteries. But with hundreds of online casinos competing with other for a piece of the pie, it takes extreme creativity to create a product that presents something different and attracts players.

    2) Game Design

    This is how the game feels to the audience. In terms of the aforementioned puzzle game, the design could be similar to other popular puzzle games, but with additional features and behaviors that set it apart from the competition. This could be superficial elements, such as a design, or a unique gameplay mechanic.

    A great example of this is the highly successful Fornite Battle Royale, a survival game developed by Epic Games. In its entirety, the game concept is extremely similar to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, developed by competitor Bluehole.

    Both games are online multiplayer battle games in which characters are soldiers on a mission to kill and survive. Both games start with 100 players, either alone or in squads, depending on the selected gameplay option. Players must scavenge for tools, weapons and armor. And unsurprisingly, winning either game requires becoming the sole survivor.

    In the end, there's only one significant difference between both games: Fortnite features a less violent, cartoonish quality, almost childlike. The animation style is more suited to Cartoon Network than a violent shooter video-game. Surprisingly, this is what made Fornite stand out and surpass PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' success.

    3) Technical Design

    How does the game achieve its design? The game design may state that the puzzle game will turn in real-time, but the technical design will explain how the results will be calculated, what platform the game will be built on, and what language the game is programed in.

    The design can be the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of the game development process, so pre-planning is vital.

    The more comprehensive your design document is, the more likely you are to have a successful project. In fact, it's critical to spend as much time as you can on your game design document.


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