In 2009, a game designer at a Finnish mobile game development company showed some of their sketches and ideas to others.
It inspired others and prompted them to pursue the designer’s idea. Thus, began a development journey fraught with troubles. For instance, halfway through the development phase, the team had to let go of nearly 50% of their employees.
The company finally released the game in December 2009. After a slow start, it started getting traction in early 2010 and quickly caught on in the gaming world.
Stories like these are aplenty in the game development world. One just has to look at the challenges game development agencies behind some of the biggest games we know have faced, to understand that many games started as an idea that a few people believed in. Then these same people transformed the idea into a game many players came to love.
These games had solid game designs built upon the initial concepts’ foundation.
Game design is the act of creating the overall experience of the game. It involves devising a game’s mechanics, rules, gameplay, etc. It is a creative and technical endeavor taken upon by a set of dedicated specialists called game designers.
Meanwhile, mobile game design is creating a design for games to be released on mobile platforms. Typically, these involve games to be released on iOS and Android platforms.
Mobile game design is a complicated process. It involves multiple steps that are most often taken care of by specialists.
Below, we provide a brief of such a process for you to understand how to design a mobile game:
This is often the first stage of a game design process when you develop a mobile game.
During this stage, we define the idea and understand the target audience. You should analyze in-depth the target audience’s demographic and specific requirements. In addition, you must also conduct in-depth research into other similar games and media outside of gaming to refine and improve the idea.
Once the ideas are fleshed out, you create a GDD. The GDD is a comprehensive document that is a blueprint for the entire game development team to follow. It lists the features of the game, the main idea, and all the vital information about the game project.
The next step is creating the game’s core mechanic, core loop, and rules.
The core mechanic is an action the entire game is built upon. For instance, in a platformer game, the core mechanic is to ‘jump.’ The player has to jump from one platform to another and kill enemies by jumping on top of them.
The core loop, on the other hand, is a collection of actions that the players perform repeatedly. Together, these actions form a ‘loop.’ To return to the same example of a platformer, the core loop would often be ‘kill enemies – finish levels – go to the next level’ and repeat.
Finally, there are the rules of the games. Because video games, like real-world games, are bound by rules. There are certain things that the player has to do. For instance, in the same platformer game, the player might have a limited set of lives and would have to complete the entire game before exhausting these lives.
If your game is centered around a narrative, then you have to flesh out the story and write about the characters,
The story, in this sense, means the major plot beats, such as the climax, the revelation, the twists, etc., each of which you have to design per the genre and theme of your game.
Likewise, character creation involves creating the relationships between characters, the backstories, the dialogues, etc. You must ensure each character is distinct by introducing individual personalities and beliefs.
Once you have everything ready, you can create a basic prototype. The prototype would be a bare game with placeholder art intended to help you test the feasibility of your ideas. It features the game’s basic mechanics and is playtested to understand how the player would experience the final game.
This would help you better understand the game’s core features. You can understand what works and what doesn’t work.
Once your prototyping results are in, you have to iterate and polish the game. If something doesn’t work, you can remove or improve it. Likewise, if something works, you can retain or improve it.
You can also perform game balancing, which is the method of making sure that no dominant strategy emerges within the game. You have to carefully peer into all the elements within the game design and balance the metrics so that the game offers a good experience with proper balance.
Though there are a lot of common patterns across game development regardless of the target platform, there are certain things to keep in mind which are relevant to mobile game design.
Mobile game development falls under two platforms: iOS and Android. Each of them has their own set of benefits and challenges.
iOS, for instance, has only a few sets of devices to design the game for. Hence, the testing requirements in terms of compatibility are also lower.
On the other hand, when it comes to android, the entire situation changes. Numerous manufacturers create android devices, each creating multiple variants. This makes the number of devices the game can run on extremely high and thus makes playtesting for compatibility challenging.
Similarly, you must consider their guidelines if you intend to release the game on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Both these stores have their own policies, including the games they deem acceptable. It is essential to understand these before commencing development.
Mobile device users mostly rely on the touchscreen to play games. This contrasts consoles and PCs, where players use dedicated game controllers or a keyboard/mouse combo.
The touch controls should work well with the core mechanics of the game as well. Some can rely on tap/touch mechanics, while others have to map the controllers on the screens only.
Furthermore, your game might also have to support external controllers. This, however, depends on the genre of your game.
Mobile device hardware has a lot of limitations. These are not as complex as consoles or PCs regarding gaming performance.
Hence, if you are seeking how to design a mobile game in the best way, you must consider these things. You have to consider if the gaming experience you design would be compatible with the hardware of the target devices. If your game is heavy on graphics, for instance, your game might be incompatible with running on lower-end devices. Such considerations should be carefully weighed.
Mobile game design is a vital step in developing a solid mobile game that will be loved by a wide range of audiences. It enables you to create a structured experience that delivers immersive gameplay.
There are, however, challenges unique to the platform that you must consider before you begin the design. But through a deliberate step-by-step process, you can achieve a great result. You must understand all these when you learn how to make a mobile game design.
The best way to understand how to design a mobile game is by getting in touch with a top game development outsourcing company like Juego Studios. We have a team of experienced designers adept at creating functional designs across different game genres.