How To Make A RPG In Less Than A Week Part 4: THE PLAN

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Hopefully by now you have a stack of notes or text files with ideas for your game. It’s time to start organizing all those ideas into a PLAN.

Why create a plan? Why not just jump into the editor and start hacking away? That’s because if you sit down with the editor open and you don’t know what you’re going to do next, it’s going to be difficult to do anything. You need to create a plan so you know what you’re going to do next. Without structure it’s going to be laborious working on a RPG.

Yay new project! … now what?

Yay new project!
… now what?

So, before you even start developing, you’ll want to create an outline. Some people might refer to this as the GDD or Game Design Document but that’s not what it really is. A GDD is a very descriptive document that is used to coordinate efforts among a large team. This is also often shared with a publisher for approval. You don’t need anything that technical.

So, first, you want to open a new doc. Put a working title at the top of the page. Then, try to imagine different ideas you want to put into your game. Try to get the BIG IDEAS into the outline first: story, characters, gameplay. The order doesn’t really matter now. Just try to get them all on there. Hopefully you have a lot of notes to refer to at this point.

Game outline template.

Game outline template.

Once the major ideas are down, you can start writing supporting ideas. Then, you can clean up the outline and organize it into sections. If sections get too large, you might want to make a separate document. I often have a few documents for a project organized into a folder on Google Docs. It makes it easier to reference something quickly or share it with teammates.

With a plan you’ll be able to develop more in less time because you’ll have structure. At the same time, you don’t want the planning stage to be a bottleneck. While it does help to have an outline, you can find yourself paralyzed trying to plan out your entire game first. You really just want to get the broad strokes of your game down. You don’t need to plan out every map and scene. It’s good to be detailed but it can be taken too far.

And sometimes, ideas that looked good on paper don’t work so well in implementation. Or you might just come up with entirely new ideas organically when working on your game. So don’t feel beholden to your outline. Game development is an iterative process. Consider your outline a living document.

Once you got your plan more or less outlined, it’s time to finally start developing! Hopefully this and the preceding articles prepared you for this. While the title of the articles might be “How to make a RPG in less than a week”, the idea behind the articles is really how to develop more efficiently. If you follow an established process, then you’ll be able to develop more in less time.

Do you find a good outline helps you with your game? Have some questions about how to create an effective one? Join the comments section below! Good luck with developing your game!

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  • Tomas

    RPGMaker Ace VX noobie here, (Have programming and GFX knowledge)

    Good quick tips the 4 articles to date. Helps me get my head around sorting out design ideas etc. To get a little idea I have for a game for my kids (Which my kids shall be the characters in it, think they will enjoy being in a game story)

    TY 🙂