This blog outlines a framework taught by Stone Librande, Lead Designer at Riot Games, in his game design class at CMU, that allows for quick development of games and evaluation of their design. More specifically, by following the framework, you can start developing your game in less than 15 minutes and iterate on it quite a few times by the end of the hour.
The diagram represents the framework we use to approach our design:
Here we define some terms used in the framework.
START: The initial state of all the elements in the game that collectively represent the initial state of the game.
GOAL: The final desirable state of the game that needs to be achieved to end the game.
OBSTACLES: Situations in the game that can hamper possible progress.
DECISIONS: Player choices that help solve or avert obstacles.
RULES: A framework that binds all the elements mentioned above in single entity by defining possible actions that the player can and cannot take.
INTERACTION: Player’s actions that change the game state.
Step 1: Starting off, think of a possible theme for the game or a few items you want to use to develop your game. In class, we usually start with a pack of cards or a few poker chips.
Step 2: Proceed to write a GOAL for the game. This can come from a number of places — your theme, the items you picked, the number of players, etc.
Step 3: Define the START state of the game. This includes setup as well.
Eg: All players start with 5 cards and each player only has cards of a particular suite.
Step 4: Make up a rule that helps the player(s) get from the START state to the GOAL.
YOU HAVE A GAME!
Step 5: Play it.
Step 6: It is time to evaluate your game. This is the tricky part. A lot of the evaluation is subjective and that is why game design is hard. Think about the rule and whether it is an obstacle or an interaction for the player. Does the obstacle provide a dramatic moment for the player(s)? Does it excite players to try to overcome it? Does it
Step 7: Make changes to the rule based on your evaluation.
Loop from Step 4 to Step 7 until you run out of time.
It is hard to say what kind of game you would end up with after an hour. What I am sure of is that you have a great starting point for a project that can last for a week or a year.