Virtuacon: Game Design Process reflection

The video I will be posting notes about is displayed within my blog post so please check it out so then my notes will make sense. I have taken notes about the video and simplified it, but also wrote my own answers to the questions within the video if they were asked to me. These opinions were based of my own thoughts but also the response of others within the video.


Key –

Bullet points are taken from the video
Star symbol means my own personal reflection

What are the benefits to design a system rather than using an engine?

  • Creating an engine would let you do things that aren’t already available
  • Opening possibilities without limiting a players experience

* I personally feel that designing your own system would be better than jumping into an existing engine because although with other engines they are more developed, they may not meet the needs of your game so you would have to manipulate your game to suit what is available. By creating your own system/engine, this means that you can tailor to suit your games needs.

What about hacking games that exist vs creating your own? At what point should this be a new game? This could live within the existing framework.

  • Personalising
  • Very unique to each situation
  • How much do you rely on what’s already out there? How much are you bringing to the table?
  • Advancing what is already available, allowing innovation and watching the evolution of what games could be by improving and stretching what’s available that little bit further.
  • Be the DM, make alterations where needed in order to suit the need

* I feel like it honestly depends on how much of yourself you project into the game, and what steps you take to alter it. End of the day, adding your own flavor to a game can really change the player experience which would make it a new game completely.

Say you’ve got the idea for creating a design for your game, you have bits and pieces of what you want in your mind, the mechanic ideas kind of there, how do you break it down so you can flesh it out and not have the big picture overwhelm?

  • Put it down on paper and start play testing it (Allows you to see gaps and make changes where needed)
  • Write down how you would explain and teach the game to someone
  • Define what is core and what is extra (Stop yourself from being distracted from the things you want before creating the things you need)

*Currently if I want to start fleshing things out, I would write down the essentials of what I want the game to have and from their I am able to expand into more detail and work the game around what those core values. I would usually start with a key phrase to help explain what my game is and from there jot down what I need to include.

Theme or mechanics first?

  • Inspired by themes
  • Themes help choose what mechanics you will want
  • Mechanics will help create a particular experience in the game play, and to decide on what kind of experience should be then using the theme would help influence that.

*I have always worked with theme first because I feel that the theme would play a big part in deciding which mechanics I would choose to use.

Where do I draw inspiration on?

  • Games I dislike
  • Media
  • Children
  • Nostalgia
  • Anime
  • Look outside of what you are into
  • Things that I care about

*I usually draw inspiration on things that I have recently seen within the media or things I know I enjoy. I have never really thought about looking at things I dislike and I feel in the future this will benefit me to look at as it will expand my research and thus giving me a better quality product.

Getting inspiration from other games, what do you consider the greatest challenge for you to translate a board or game mechanic when you translate it into a RPG system?

  • There’s a lot of freedom and you can’t predict what a person will do with their character
  • Being able to write well to put everyone on the same page
  • Don’t leave too much unknown – have some control to lead the players through to the next point.
  • Board games have a victory condition, an end. Board games are laid out (1st,2nd,3rd) rpgs create comprehensive rules to cover anything the players throw at you

* I feel as if the biggest challenge would be to keep a player in a state of flow with the game and to aid that player so they can go from point A to B so that everyone can be on the same page but without limiting the RPG experience.

Do you find gaming licenses restrictive? Have you ever worked with a gaming licence? If so has the licences restrictive nature caused you to look elsewhere for a mechanical framework to apply your theme too?

  • Restrictive on setting development
  • Good communication and keeping client information discrete
  • Expectations
  • Can be challenging but there is a lot of room to work within the licences
  • A lot of responsibility


Is there a good check question that you can keep asking yourself to make sure your design process is on track? Should that question change in different stages of the games development?

  • When my player reads this will they be able to do it?
  • Why am I designing this game? What experience do I want the player to walk away with?
  • Is it fun, Entertaining or engaging?
  • I know what I mean but do they know what I mean?
  • Are people using this role? Is it coming up in play? If not, is it useful?
  • What is happening when mechanic are being used? Are they having the effects I wanted?

*Am I making this overcomplicated and will the player be able to understand what I want them to do?


How much would you keep a theme general or more recognisable so that people can easily get it vs designing a more in-depth world with its own quirks?

  • Starting general then build detail
  • Go with quirky, you’ll end up with a smaller product and less to deal with
  • Focus more on what you want the players to experience
  • Go with quirky so you can be specific, can look at what experience the player will be encountering
  • Depends on what you are looking for within your game design
  • If going indie, start specific. Don’t make games for the masses, make games for yourself. Working your way outwards.

*As noted within the video, I would start with a general idea and build into that as it allows you flexibility while not letting you stray too far. This is just how I have always worked and for me I find it the best way to plan my ideas although I do see the benefits of designing a more quirky in depth world as you can create something simple and for it to really stand out.

At what point did the design process do business numbers come into play, how big is the money part of it and influence on design decisions.

  • It’s a big factor, you need to know the budget because it effects where your game will be headed.
  • We start of designing games but end up designing products.
  • Is it for yourself or for public? This will vary the budget
  • Look at numbers from early stages
  • Work out what things you will need to budget for so you can estimate a total cost
  • Be realistic when budgeting
  • Stay within the budget
  • Work out a ‘level of risk’

*Having some knowledge of business, I know how important it is to consider numbers within the early stage of any project so looking at this in regards to game design my opinion is still the same. You need to budget for your project to see if your idea is doable, if not where can you make alterations to make it doable. If you leave this too late then you will be out of pocket and the quality of the product will be low or otherwise you will have an incomplete game.

What is the worst part of the design process?

  • When you test a mechanic and it doesn’t work within your game (Making cuts)
  • Making the rule book for a game (Is this simple and engaging enough?)
  • Trying to figure out when you are done
  • Crisis of faith (Evaluating if this is something worth saving or was this a waste of time?)

*Trying to see if you have go into too much depth or not gone into enough depth. Self evaluation can be difficult especially when its a game you are making for someone else because your needs entwine with theirs and its important you keep the two separate, unless of course the game is for yourself.

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