Nyunesu’s Handbook

General

Finish what you start

Everyone can start, not everyone can finish.

Keep the scope small

Keep it simple, then build complexity.

Don’t get too attached to your ideas

Kill them if they don’t fit. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Keep a backlog of tasks you have planned

Assess your priorities.

Concept

Define the difficulty factors of each mechanic

Define what parameters will be used to increase or reduce the difficulty of your mechanics.

Imagine in detail how the game plays in your head before committing to a prototype

Visualize activities done moment to moment, minute to minute.

Work on your pitch

Describe your game clearly in a single sentence, where that sentence does not describe a single other game.

Production

Form Follows Function

Make sure the design communicates its workings.

Meaningful decisions

Make sure the player can and have enough feedback to make meaningful decisions.

Reward the player

Give the player an instant reward for overcoming an intended challenge.

Prototype

Keep it simple

What is the smallest possible prototype I can build to illustrate X?

Dual-purpose design

Assign more than one purpose to your mechanics, make them interact with each other.

Minimalism

Add colors, shapes, sound effects, and music to your prototypes.

Use tools

See if there’s an easy-to-use tool or asset that allows the prototype to be made faster.

Game

Prioritize your tasks

Again, assess your game priorities, cut what’s not needed. Focus on what will bring the highest design value with the lowest effort.

Communicate progress

Make sure the player knows (or has an idea of) their goal, how much they progressed and what is left to complete.

Feedback matrix

Consider all player senses in your designs, carefully consider each possible feedback and state available.

Fix annoying bugs before starting the next task

Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can fix today.

Estimate time

Set deadlines, nothing like them to motivate you. Assign a time to your work on each stage of the project, you won’t be able to tell how much time you lost if you’re not keeping track of it.

Dynamic difficulty

Give the player optional challenges. Allow them to solve challenges in different ways.

Playtesting

Similarity

Look for joys and frustrations shared among all playtesters.

Show, don’t tell

Make sure the player can interact with your game without explicit instructions from you.

Reinforce emergent design

Keep an eye out for emergent behavior. If it fits your core experience, encourage players to pursue it by designing risk/reward around them.

What was relevant?

Ask for the player to describe their favorite and least favorite moment or interaction, when they felt clever and if there was something they wanted to do and the game didn’t let them.

Kleenex testers

Don’t stick to the same testers, always bring new players.

Take notes

Notice when players get frustrated or encounter problems or try to prolong the same activities.