Your Game Design Notebook

Do you enjoy designing games? Do you have some good ideas for new games? If you answered yes, to either of those then consider starting a game design notebook.

Turn In: This is an extra activity so there is nothing you need to turn in.

In a different activity we created a GDD - Game Design Document, a document with the details necessary to create a game.

Artists and fashion designers have sketchbooks that they use to practice certain drawing techniques, capture ideas of things they want to work on, and have actual drawings of their craft.

Architects and engineers create blueprints and CAD drawings of the buildings or products that they are going to build. Often they have a notebook to collect the information needed to make those drawings.

If designing and creating your own games is of interest to you, start your own game design notebook. A place to collect your ideas, sketches of the objects in your game, information on who the game will work, and any other details related to the game development process.

Since this is your notebook, you can decide what works best for you. It may take you several tries with different things to find what works best for you. The purpose of this activity is to provide some suggestions to help you decide what works best.

The goal of your game design notebook is to have a place/way to capture ideas and thoughts related to new games or enhancements to existing games.

You want to choose something that you are comfortable with, that you can quickly capture ideas with, and that is usually available to you.

What Should I Use?

Paper and pencil works if that is what you are comfortable with. You might have an old notebook around that house that you can use or the dollar stores often have inexpensive composition notebooks that work well. Some great ideas have even been sketch on a napkin. If doing paper and pencil, a notebook is probably a better choice than napkins.

Many people prefer to use an electronic device such as a cell phone, tablet, or laptop computer to keep their ideas and designs. Choose a device (or devices) that are accessible when you have your ideas and when you want to do your design work.

There a number of applications that can be used for recording your ideas and designs. Word processing software may be sufficient. You may want tools to record audio, video, screenshots, and take pictures of things that inspire your designs.

There are a number of brainstorming type of applications that might work out well for you.

Also popular are applications that are designed for notetaking and free-form recording of ideas, thoughts, and designs. Two examples of this are Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. Both have free options to get started.

Worth mentioning again is to try out different options, ask other people what they use, do some research, and find what works best for you.

What Do I Put In My Game Design Notebook

Your game design notebook should contain your ideas, inspirations, notes, and designs for games that you want to create or games that you want to enhance.

There is no specific format or guideline on how to do this. You may include pictures, videos, audio, notes, words, phrases, or detailed descriptions.

You may create storyboards of scenes or levels in your game. You may mock in pictures, words, sketches, or video of role playing how parts fo the game will work.

As ideas come to you, put them into your game design notebook with enough information or detail that when you read it later, you will have an idea what it means.

Try putting in date/time information on some of your work so you have a point of reference. Sometimes the date/time does not make sense and other times it may prove helpful.

Ask others what they do and so some research to see what others do and have shared.

Remember the intent of the game design notebook ... help you clarify and plan out how your games will work for either you to use in creating them or for your game development team to be able to use.

Final Comments

Do not be afraid to try something different if this is not working for you. New technologies may provide a better option. Changes to existing technology may make something not as usable for you.

Also, be sure that you have a backup copy of your notebook (if electronic).

Finally, be sure to regularily turn your notes and ideas into actual games or enhancements to games. There may be times that ideas need to sit around for a while or need some further refinement. Whether you do your own creating and coding or you share your ideas with others that can make them a reality, when possible turn your ideas into reality.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Schumm. Permission granted to freely use this in your classroom.