What is the Ideal Planning Process for a Game?

So, for planning a game, in what order do you proceed? I know this is a much covered topic, as it’s a frequent question. However I’m a little mixed up on the steps:

There is your Game Design Document, Concept art (for characters, environments, props etc…) and of course the prototype. My instinct is to rush towards a basic prototype just so I can see if the game mechanics are fun. If they are fun, I will proceed to plan the game more in depth. What I want to avoid is wasting time by doing too much planning, only to find that the actual game play isn’t fun. I’m giving my self a deadline of one year to finish the game, and all of a sudden that year sounds really short.

I’m planning a 3rd person action/adventure game for Windows.

Do you guys have suggestions on the order to proceed?

@junfanbl I wanted to create an outline for my game originally. It just evolved so much that the first 10 outlines wouldve gotten trashed. I think a checklist/tasklist would be an awesome pre-game idea tbh. Uses ik. footprint decals, weather cycles, inventories, abilities, etc I’m an un organized person so I try to constantly re organize my project.

Making the gameplay fun is absolutely the top priority. A game is useless without fun gameplay.

Jeff Nadrich

Hi there @junfanbl

I use Google Slides for my Game Design Journal. Its a ‘living’ document that I dump all my ideas (technical and artistic) into while I’m prototyping. Some ideas will make it into the game, some ideas will not. Although I’m code-centric game dev, I absorb and express concepts with imagery. I use G-Slides for practically all my documentation, they make great Storyboards.

Pros: Collaborative, Combines Various Media on Front/Notes on the back, Read-only Presentation Mode/GDC Ready, Online Accessibility.

Example: ExORION GDJ

Most important thing (or two):

  • keep doing it, do at least one task per day, even if its as small as for eg. improving icon, or fixing some spelling or adding comment. Do ANYTHING in project ever day.
  • do not change gameplay or type of game mid project. That means you keep experimenting and finding what is fun at very beginning, until you are sure do not invest time in “polishing” parts of game like content (maps), character design, etc. Yes those things are fun and less demanding, but doing this too early is almost certain waste of time.

Thank you for the advice. Its all very helpful. Both the bit about the GDD and doing something at least once a day. Great way to keep momentum and motivation levels up. Thanks again!

There are also numerous books on this topic, I’m currently reading this one (but there are many others on Amazon):

The truth is nobody really knows.
Every place I worked does things differently.

I kind of thought that might be the case…there is what is taught (aka GDD) and then there is what really happened in the real world (aka trenches)

I suspect though, at some level with successful games there is a great depth of structure that includes a thought out plan, yes?

My wonder/guess is that the studios that have disciplined structured processes in place from start to finish probably (you’d think) have a better shot at success.

We must assume that Halo, Call of Duty, or Fortnite were not thrown together, but planned and “iterated” at great lengths.

Also, I suspect teams with the best collaboration also have a better success rate. People working together is super important.

That’s my take anyway…


I have no idea.
Ive never worked on something that involve over 7 studios and more than 500+ people working on it.

I always begin with a Game Design Document. It happens after a few Brainstorming of different ideas. The Game must be fun to play. That is the ideal target.
Then I think of a story for the game.
The characters, the map, the gameplay, and everything follows.
I am not a structured planner, so often I get lost too much into one aspect or the other.