This is going to be a Design oriented post. You may want to just skip to the very end and download the design document for R.O.V.E.R. For anyone interested in more insight on this, I am going to be discussing my design process for creating the document which won a special award in the Playstation Asia Challenge 2012 for Vita. More information on the contest and other winners click here.
I had initially planned to make an MMORPG with the Vita but I felt it was really done to death. It had nothing unique that I could use from what Vita had to offer. While writing the documentation I was just not feeling it. I decided to switch over to something that exploits Vita’s complete potential in terms of the new hardware (Back touch,Front camera,Dual analog sticks, Gyro-meter). One of the first things I do is sketch the device out, giving my mind a visual of the device that the game is going to be played on. I also try to map out the different kinds of interactions one can have with the device. Here is the sketch straight from my design diary.
The next day I had to think of a situations/themes in which all of these interactions will be used in. This is probably the most difficult part but when it hits, it’s a home run. I had been playing Metal Gear Solid 4 and I really liked the idea of a stealth game featuring only an RC Vehicle. I also figured that the Vita could be an awesome controller for an RC Vehicle. I quickly sketched some situations the new controls of the Vita be used in. Here is another sketch showing the front camera in action. The lower sketch is actually an enemy trying to pick the RC Vehicle where the player can use the back touch pad to flip the vehicle out of danger.
The PS Asia Challenge had a very good skeleton document structure for me to package my thoughts. I recommend you have a look at it as well here. On Day 3 I figured out certain keywords that would explain the game/gameplay clearly. My design would be based around these keywords. They were – Military RC, Nudge, Gyro-Controls (Tiny Movements and Adjustments), Gadgets, Exploring + Killing (more like disabling/destroying actually), Scale. I also quickly jotted down a list of gadgets/verbs in I would want in the game. They were Invisibility, Shorten-Lengthen, Rope, Snipe, Latch, Climb, Mines.
Day 4 – To figure out what the challenges would be in the game I asked myself few of these questions.
How do I reach there? (Maneuvering Challenge)
How do I take this guy out? (Survival/Disable Challenge)
What do I choose to do? Disable or Destroy (Moral Challenge)
Should I go here first? (Exploration Challenge)
With this information, I quickly plotted this sort of mind map of challenges you can see in the image below. Everything I wanted in the game was expressed by this simple one page connected map.
That was about it. At this point I had everything I needed to start working on the document filling in the missing details. This process is the longest and took me a handful of days. The story came naturally and hence is cliched. The story is something that will definitely need revision if this game ever gets made.
You are free to download the document and share it with anyone. Heck you can even go ahead and make this into a game if you deem it worthy.