Designer Checklists

Ages ago I bought a book called “The Writer’s Book of Checklists” by Scott Edelstein. This was a reference manual for aspiring writers, with everything they needed to know summarized in handy checklists. For whatever reason the checklist format has always been appealing to me.

As part of my efforts to create secondary, bonus content to encourage readers to consider purchasing the Lazy Designer directly from me, I decided it would be [fun|exciting|worthwhile] to create my own set of checklists for the Lazy Designer.

At the end of this point is the first third of the list. I’ll add the others in later posts. If you would like the full checklist now, consider purchasing the Complete Series + Bonus Items, which gives you all five Lazy Designer books, the Unity tutorials, a couple example design documents, and the checklists.

Of if you really just want the checklist itself, it is a free purchase, for a few days, at least :)

Get Free Checklists.

Game Design Checklist Part 1

The intent of these checklists is to prompt readers and remind them of Lazy Designer content without having to reread all the chapters. This is not a glossary, index, or table contents (though I generally indicate the chapter relevant to the checklist).

Getting Hired

Starting Your Career

From Chapter 1

  • Teach Yourself General Design Skills.
    • Find a Mentor.
    • Play Games!
    • Enhance Technical Skills.
    • Learn to Write Code.
    • Learn Excel.
    • Learn (simple) database design.
    • Learn to create basic art (suggestion: Paint.Net and Blender).
    • (Mod)ify an existing game.
    • Build a Small Game.
  • Being a Game Writer.
    • Part of a Team or “For Hire/Contract” Writer.
    • Research Conventions.
    • Join Gaming Forums.
    • Read How-To Articles.
    • Write Your Own!
    • Start in a Different Position.
    • Will I Become a Better Writer? (Chapter 19)
    • Stepping-Stone or Dead End? (Chapter 19)
    • What a Writer Does. (Chapter 19)

Job Search

(From Chapter 1)

  • The Resume.
  • The Cover Letter.
    • You Play Games.
    • Focus on Skills.
    • Get Your Terminology Right.
    • Not a Stepping-Stone.
    • No Begging.
    • No Arrogance.
  • The Portfolio.
    • Avoid Huge Downloads.
    • Use Available Tools.
    • Target the Company.
    • Build What They Build.
    • Avoid the Weird.
    • Fancy Packaging.
    • Strengths versus Weaknesses.
    • Your Website.
  • Application.
    • Follow Company Guidelines.
    • Blind E-Mailing/Spamming… Bad Idea.
  • Interview.
    • Be Engaged.
    • Answer the Question.
    • Be Critical.
    • Confidence not Arrogance.
    • Past Mistakes.

Design Roles

(From Chapter 2)

  • Director of Design. (also Chapter 24)
    • Write Design Documents.
    • Write Status Reports.
    • Interact With Upper Management.
    • Schedule.
    • Run Interference.
    • Quality Assurance.
      • Test More!
      • Review All Bugs.
    • Role Model and Mentor.
      • Lead by Example.
      • Don’t Dodge Problems.
      • Be Available.
      • HR.
      • Mistakes Happen — Apologize.
      • Accountability.
      • Improvement.
    • Earn respect by Being Authentic.
      • Understand the Game.
      • Understand the Team and How Their Roles Contribute.
      • Prove Yourself.
  • Writer. (Jump)
  • Editor. (Chapter 19)
    • Editing Improves the Game.
    • Editing “In Context”.
    • When To Edit (Scheduling).
    • What To Edit.
      • Capitalization.
      • Punctuation.
      • Dialect.
      • Line Length.
      • Anachronisms.
    • Cinematic Editing Passes.
      • Initial.
      • High-Level.
      • Editor Pass.
      • Rough Animation.
      • Voice Over.
      • Final Animation.
    • Dialog Editing Passes.
      • Planning.
      • Rough Draft.
      • First Draft.
      • Sign Off.
      • Localization Sign Off.
      • Editing Voice Over.
      • Grammar Pass.
      • Voice Over Commenting.
      • Cinematic Pass.
      • Minor Passes.
      • Translation.
    • All Other Text Requires Editing Too.
  • Technical Designer.
  • Cinematic Designer.

Skill Improvement

(From Chapter 2)

  • Company Training.
  • Self Training On the Job.
    • Company intranet.
    • Past Design and Marketing Documents.
    • Testing Session Videos.
    • Internal Reviews.
    • Online Reviews.
    • Tinker. (More)
      • Play Games.
      • Free to Experiment.
      • Mod Away.
      • Teach Others.
      • Review Your Notes.
    • Other Activities(Chapter 8)
      • Read.
      • Review Forums.
      • Socialize.
      • Post Mortems.
        • Gathering Information.
        • Understanding the Information.

Task Management

(From Chapter 2)

  • Get Lazy (Not Really)
  • Technical Skill Improvement (Again!)
  • Estimating.
    • Under Promise.
    • Over Deliver.
    • Become an Expert on Something.
  • Do Not Deliver Low Quality Work. Ever.
  • Single-Tasking.
  • Test Cycle.
    • Test Your Own Work and Others.
    • Provide Effective Feedback.
      • Respectful.
      • Detailed.
      • Comparative.
      • Progressive.
    • Understand how to Take Criticism.
      • Ask For Feedback.
      • Make it Easy for Feedback to be given (Automate?).
      • Beware Opinions.
      • Manage Subjective Feedback.
  • Purge Thy E-mail.
    • Beware Folders.
  • Learning From Failure. (Chapter 3)
    • Learn from Rejection.
    • Inconsistent Rejection.
  • Squash Bugs. (Chapter 3)
    • Be Prompt.
    • Manage Your List.
  • Staying Sane. (Chapter 3)
    • Handling Crunchtime
    • Bad Crunch vs. Good Crunch.

Planning a Game

Game Development Cost

(From Chapter 3)

  • The Cost of Videogames.
    • Team Size.
      • Complexity.
      • Too Many Bees.
    • High Fidelity Art is Expensive.
    • Visual Realism Challenges Balancing and Reactive Gameplay.
    • Complex Conversations.

Pre-game Considerations

(From Chapter 3)

  • Who Makes a Game.
    • Go Indie?
      • Form a Squad.
      • Start Up.
      • Publish It.
      • How About a Movie?
    • Small Team Versus Big Team. (Chapter 2)
  • Team Building. (Chapter 24)
    • Structure.
      • Promotion.
      • Fluid Subteams.
      • Team Composition.
      • A Team From Scratch (New Company).
    • Genius Or Passion?
    • Office Layout.
      • Mobile Offices.
      • Flexibility.
      • Not Everybody is the Same.
    • Newcomers Versus Oldtimers.
      • Make Newcomers Comfortable.
      • Give Oldtimers a Reason to Stay.
      • Why Game Schedules Falter (How to Avoid).
    • Under performing Employees.
      • Performance Can Be Improved.
      • Learn Their Strengths.
      • Correct Their Weaknesses.
    • Real Life Problems.
      • Tears.
      • Birth.
      • Death.

Planning

(From Chapter 4)

  • A New Game.
    • What Game Will Be Made.
      • Platform Choice.
      • Long Game.
      • Pick up and Go.
      • Competitive.
      • Cooperative.
      • Social.
      • DRM.
        • Planning for Piracy.
    • What Game Should YOU Make?
    • Costs.
      • Sales Goals.
      • Originality.
      • Complexity.
        • Can You Hide Complexity? Do You Want To?
      • Simplify Platform.
      • Move the Choice.
      • Like Human.
      • Approachability.
    • Recognize Your Bias.
    • Developer and Publisher.
    • Why Make This Game.
      • Sequel.
      • Gameplay/Technology.
      • Wish Fulfillment.
      • Setting Opportunity.
      • Understand Expectations.
        • Established Studio vs. Indie.
  • Detailed Planning. (Chapter 26)
    • Be Inspired and Build What You Love.
    • Core Features.
      • Feature Development.
        • Sprint Versus Standard Schedule.
        • Feature Interconnections.
        • Scope.
        • Tools.
      • Consistency and Caps.
        • Set Limits.
        • Limits Cannot Be Added After Ship.
        • Limits Can Be Removed.
        • Even When Innovative, Be Consistent with the Innovation.
      • Managing Internal Expectations.
        • Groups — Not Individuals — Build Games.
        • Features Evolve Through Negotiation.
        • What If You Do NOT Agree With Project Direction?
        • Squash Inappropriate Expectations.
      • Manage External Expectations.
        • Ship the Game You’ve Promised To Make.
        • Different People Interpret Promises Differently.
        • Do Not Mislead Players.
    • Core Assets.
      • Asset Types and Sub-assets.
        • Plots.
        • Characters.
        • Abilities.
        • Environments.
        • Creatures.
        • Items.
        • Stores.
        • Vehicles.
        • Interface Screens.
      • Asset Based Design.
        • Brainstorm Everything You Need and Commit to it.
        • No Flexibility.
        • No Changes.
      • Budget Based Design.
        • Build a Piece at a Time… Within a Set Budget.
        • Put all the Pieces Together.
        • Incremental Construction.
        • What if the Pieces Don’t Fit?
      • Middleground.
        • Light Plan.
        • Build Incrementally… Plan is a Guide.
        • Early Prototyping Provides Better Answers than a Document.
    • Prioritize Features and Assets.
      • Each Component (Asset or Feature) has Mandatory and Optional Parts.
  • The Lead as Reviewer. (Chapter 26)
    • Your Team Can Plan Subcomponents.
    • Requirements and Guidance.
      • Crystal Clear.
      • Create Templates.
      • Encourage Positive Development.
      • Consider Their Experience.
      • Specific Criticism.
      • Take Responsibility.
      • Do Not Underplay Weak Deliverables.
    • Out Of Your Element.
      • Rely on Specialists.
      • Stick to What You Know.
      • Specialists are Devoted.
        • The Bad.
        • The Good.
    • Giving Advice.

Franchises

(From Chapter 26)

  • Sequels.
    • Leverage Full Potential of Franchise.
    • Withhold Some of the Cool (But Not Much).
    • Types.
      • Continuing Story.
      • Same World But New Characters and Story.
        • Ensure You Wrap Up Previous Story.
        • DLC.
      • Same World… New Game.
    • Accounting For Change in a Sequel.
      • The Official Path.
      • Plan Sequel Before First Game.
      • Remove Some Choices When Necessary.
      • Consider Long-Term Impact of Plot Deviation.
  • Ancillary Products.
    • Appropriate.
    • Advertising… Not Revenue.
    • Use Internal Talent… or Strategic External Talent.
  • Secondary Game.
    • Same Universe But Completely Different Gameplay.
    • Can Original Game Content Be Repurposed?
    • Hooks.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: Starting Your Career

  • How to Prepare for a Career in Game Design
  • The Job Search

CHAPTER 2: Being Better

  • What to Expect
  • Task Management
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback

CHAPTER 3: Overcoming Obstacles

  • The Cost of Videogames
  • Communication and Meetings
  • Failing and Fixing
  • Crunch

CHAPTER 4: A Beginning

  • What Game Will Be Made?
  • Platform Choice.
  • Digital Rights Management
  • What Game Should YOU Make?
  • Originality and Complexity
  • Bias and Expectation

CHAPTER 5: Designing Experience

  • User Interface and Experience
  • Player Flow
  • Designing Frustration

CHAPTER 6: Building a Game

  • Engine and Pipeline
  • Data Management

CHAPTER 7: Testing and Prototyping
CHAPTER 8: Between Projects

  • Keeping Busy
  • Game Scripting

CHAPTER 9: Environment Exploration
CHAPTER 10: Creatures
CHAPTER 11: Items

  • Finding Items
  • Crafting Items
  • Improving Items
  • Extending Item Systems

CHAPTER 12: More to Explore

  • Triggers and Waypoints
  • Audio
  • Stores and Economy

CHAPTER 13: Rules

  • Rule Systems
  • Player Progression

CHAPTER 14: Special Abilities

  • The Ability System
  • Combat Abilities
  • Non-Combat Abilities

CHAPTER 15: Gameplay
CHAPTER 16: Combat

  • Difficulty Balancing
  • Combat Look and Feel

CHAPTER 17: System Design

  • Systems
  • Beyond Singleplayer
  • Achievements
  • Downloadable Content

CHAPTER 18: Story Design

  • Presenting Story
  • Beginnings
  • Pacing and Change
  • Endings

CHAPTER 19: Improved Storytelling

  • Better Story Through Adversity
  • Multiplayer Gaming and the Story Game
  • What is a Writer?

CHAPTER 20: Adventures

  • Types of Adventures
  • Planning

CHAPTER 21: Characters

  • Gameplay and Characters
  • Character Design

CHAPTER 22: Dialog

  • Choice and Conflict
  • Structure
  • Voice Acting

CHAPTER 23: World Building

  • Process
  • How Different is Too Different?
  • Reinforce the World Through Gameplay

CHAPTER 24: Design Manager Overview

  • The Role of the Design Lead
  • Communication
  • Team Building

CHAPTER 25: Making Decisions

  • Realizing a Need for Change
  • Making the Decision
  • Change

CHAPTER 26: Planning

  • A Sense of Wonder
  • The Guide
  • Other Planning

CHAPTER 27: Documentation

  • Writing Documentation
  • Managing Documentation
  • Types of Documentation

Related Posts

Table of Contents – Lazy Designer: How to Start a Career in Game Design, Table of Contents: Lazy Designer Book 3 – Exploration and Gameplay, Lazy Designer Book 2 – Progress Update, The Lazy Designer Book 2 – Update

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