Now that we have a bit of inspiration and a bit of our vision for our immersive “town” identified, it’s time to flesh things out in a vision document.
Sometimes, in practice, I might skip this step and get straight to prototyping, especially on a personal project where no one else needs to understand “the plan.” But when you have a team involved, this kind of document is an essential communication tool, plus it will help you organize your thoughts.
For a portfolio piece, a design document like this can help show your written communication skills and helps tell the story of your design process, two vital things employers will look for.
Unlike screenwriting or other disciplines, there is no singular official way to document game concepts. My advice is to keep it short and simple. If you get carried away with a giant “design document as bible” approach, you become less agile and may resist the essential iteration and adaptability that game design requires. Until you are playtesting, you are just guessing! So no need to get too carried away with our guesses about what’s fun.
We just need a starting point that clarifies the initial vision. It’s natural that we will come up with new ideas as we work.
Come up with a name for your project. It can be a working title. It can be a codename. But don’t pick something that sounds like a school project like “Immersive Town Tutorial” or “Week 10 Assignment.”
Describe the camera perspective and genre. Don’t make up stuff you’re not going to execute. This is a third person narrative adventure game.
Focus on the project as an immersive environment designed to convey a specific atmosphere, as opposed to trying to weave a complex plot or create compelling gameplay systems.
What type of atmosphere? What is the theme? How do you want the player to feel?
- Scared or vulnerable?
- Heroic or like a leader?
- Wealthy or poor?
- Anxious or tense?
A lot of this will be conveyed by the setting and characters, try not to duplicate too much info.
Try to come up with an overarching drama that is surrounding the town, something that would have happened even if the player never showed up on the scene!
Describe the setting. What is the time period? The geographic location? Add images from the assets you liked in your research. You can use the Unity scene camera to arrange good views and take screenshots.
Include information about the answers to the discern realities move questions from Dungeon World:
- What happened here recently?
- What is about to happen?
- What should the player be on the lookout for?
- What here is powerful or valuable?
- Who’s really in control here?
- What here is not what it appears to be?
Come up with a few character ideas.
- What are their names?
- How did they get to the “town?”
- What role to they serve in the town / what’s their occupation?
- What are their goals or impulses?
- What do they like? What do they fear?
- Who are their friends and enemies?
Use screenshots of the character art assets you found in your research as visual aids (and to make sure you have art for everyone!).