One thing when I come into a new project, one thing I struggle with the most is getting a full idea of what is being made. So, I end up with a lot of half thought out elements that were designed midway through the project. This isn’t the best with smaller projects, but at least it’s manageable when there isn’t much in the overall game. Now that we are entering into larger projects however, it’s becoming an issue. So, how do I work out more detail? Paper plans. With the use of paper plans, my team was able to realise the elements of the game that we were not aware of and make decisions about how elements would work that we didn’t know would be needed until the paper plan was in production. We used it to properly think through our UI and think about how the mouse would need to interact with the individual elements of the game. For example, the patch bay was an element of our game that we had thought would be very simple. But then, when we came to bringing it into our paper plan, we discovered that a proper representation of a patch bay for an audio console in our abstract multipurpose approach would be a lot harder than expected. So we were forced to make decisions about how it would work with greater detail, being able to draw each step of the process to layout how it would operate. Resulting in a more realised understanding of its function and a clearer understanding of our game overall. Of course this will never be what we have in the end, because game development almost never ends with the exact idea it was started with.
So that is how one example of paper plans work, but one thing paper plans aren’t the best at realising is 3 Dimensional games. This is mostly because they are hard to draw, because we’re game designers. Not artists. (perspective is hard). So one way that this can be taken care of is to draw the paper plans from only one perspective (top down/side on) and then creating an objects, actions, and interactions table to show how each element planned for the game interacts with other objects or actions. This lets you understand more about what needs to be done when it comes to making the game and what specific situations need to be designed, and gives you an advantage on designing these interactions to encompass all of the game’s elements in the most efficient manner. I have used this on another project I am working on and it was helpful to discover that there wasn’t much interaction in the game, and we were then able to find more places for interaction to happen. Both these methods have really helped me and my teams create and obtain a better understanding of the games we are making, now the only thing left (really not the only thing but for the sake of a good closing statement) is to see how they end up.