One of Golive’s latest projects is O2: Guardians of Nature. This is a class based CCG (Collectable Card Game) that started in collaboration with the Art Studio Laughing Dots.
O2: Guardians of Nature started with a single poster and an idea from Laughing Dots. This Idea was where a group of kids teamed up together to save nature from the forces of evil with their unique superpowers. Taking this, We at Golive, turned it into a setting for a fun card game where you use strategy and teamwork to save the world.
Getting from one idea to a complete game however is a huge task which can be divided into 3 primary phases.
Pre-Production is what we will be talking about today.
Pre-Production for a game consists of taking an idea that the team agrees on much further. This phase is where a setting(a world) for the game is created. The setting in turn allows us to experiment with mechanics and figure out what kind of gameplay would fit for our setting and also whether we could pull that sort of gameplay off.
Once a type of gameplay is decided, in O2’s case- card game with real time strategy elements, The structure in which the gameplay is doled out is decided for the game. This varies from game to game and platform to platform. Here are some examples on how structures in games could work
- Linear and story focused, with gameplay being divided by chapters
- Open world with missions peppered throughout
- Menu driven with various missions that the player can undertake and those missions taking the player to a
- ‘Metroidvania’-All levels interconnected and available from the get-go with character’s progression restricted by their abilities
As O2 in particular is focused more on multiplayer interactions and structure with various game modes to pick from was what we went with. With a gameplay structure in mind we can then think of a story for the setting. How much story we can put and where would it come up is decided.
Having a structure and gameplay in our heads, we started brainstorming each individual mechanic of the game. These mechanics are essentially rules. How does the game work? What will players do in this game? How will players do what is necessary? What kind of controls will the game have? Answering all these questions and more culminates in creating our core loop.
Core Loop is what players do. It’s what keeps players coming back. Core Loops are what make or break games. In O2 figuring out our core loop meant finalizing the game mechanics and what would be the main thing that players would latch on to. When our designers settle on a core loop for the game, it is then presented to the rest of the team(developers,artists) and in O2’s case-the studio Laughing Dots as well. This is presented through documents, presentations and flow charts to get the whole team on the same page.
Once a core loop is finalized, we move on to other aspects of design such as fine tuning all the individual mechanics and picking and choosing which mechanics are in service of the core loop and which are not. This is done through debates and brainstorming with other team members and trying to get as many insightful perspectives as possible. Mechanics are removed, added and changed. We try to visualize how a mechanic would work in the context of our core loop and what in particular it is adding to the game. Whether to make the player feel a particular way or to help push the player in a particular direction, these mechanics build up the game’s rule set.
With Setting, Story, Game-play, Structure and Mechanics in mind we have something resembling the beginnings of a Game Design Document.
Next up will be the Art Style and general Tone of the game,but that is a post for another day.