Dev Diary : Game Design

Before working out what sort of game to make I need to find out what is in a design document. These are new to me so a quick Google threw up a handful of sites. The most likely was found at ihsoft which has a number of articles on game design and development. I downloaded the design document template (which can be found at the top of the page) and had a read. The document itself was pretty straight forward, if rather (incredibly) long. The ‘blank’ template is 22 pages long which but since I’m going to be using it as a roadmap for the game design rather than it’s original purpose of selling the game to a publisher I was able able to chop it down to 13 pages with little effort.

If you want to see what I’m working from you can download my new template document (credit goes to Chris Taylor for the original design doc). Once the design doc is completed I’ll make that available for download as well.

Now I have a template to work from I can start laying out the game design.

Game Overview

I tell you what - it's VERY difficult taking a screenshot whilst controlling a spaceship trying not to get killed...

What is the game?

The game is a side scrolling shoot em up. You play a young man who, with his trusty rocket pack and six shooter, is out to save the world from a hoard of invading alien nasties.

Examples of similar games

Why create this game?

I have always wanted to make a shoot em up of some sort, taking a very simple concept and giving it a unique feel. I think the game will do well in the casual/ shareware market.

Where does the game take place?

The game takes place in a number of locations in the real world. The date is maybe 50 / 60 years in the future so there are various gadgets that aren’t available right now (the rocket pack for example)

What do I control?

The player controls the main character. A young man named Tad (the baseball capped hero from Rocket Boards) who has to rid the world of the evil alien robot nasties. Tad wears a rocket pack on his back – this lets him fly around the levels in order to destroy all of the enemies.

What is the main focus?

The main objective is to destroy the alien invaders. As you destroy the bad guys they drop items that you can exchange for upgrades to your rocket pack and gun.

What’s different?

Stylistically this game will be very different to your traditional shoot em up. For starters, unlike most shooters where you control a space ship, you play something that is recognizably human. The game will be very colourful, almost childlike, which will contrast with the massive explosions and violent gun play found throughout.

Anything Else?

I’ve copied and pasted the text above from the first draft of my design document. However there are some things I am not sure about.


What are the exact locations going to be? I want to steer clear of the stereotypical cartoon game environments (jungle, snow, green hills etc) so I’ve been thinking about starting the game on the outskirts of a city with the city in the background and a few huts in the foreground. As you progress in the game you would move closer to the city through houses, shops, small offices, ending up in a full blown city center. I’m not sure about whether to have a proper story or not, but intend to at least have some sort of narrative progression simply through the level design so this is as good an approach as any.


At the moment I am thinking the enemies will all be robotic, but that is very impersonal so maybe they should be flown by some alien beings, or possibly they can just be anthropomorphized (given human characteristics – lights as eyes etc).

A Name!

It’s bound to change but really I need a name of some sort, I can’t keep calling it ‘shoot em up’ forever. As I mention a number of times with Bubble Blitz I’m not too good when it comes to names. Hopefully something will appear organically during the development of the game.

Was it good/ useful/ a load of old rubbish? Let me know on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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