Following this post, I decided to share with someone a bit about game designing Away Mission. My process isn't something I can simply convey without a lot of forethought, but I can try to quickly summarize how I came up with Away Mission. Take note, this isn't really in chronological order. Some things I came up with before watching the television show, I can't remember when I came up with a big portion of it, etc. I tried my best to give a general idea. Now to start with Step 1. I get pissed off there is a huge lack of certain types of games. I played FTL and I liked it, although I thought it could have been so much more. Weeks/Months later, I got another email for yet-another Kickstarter that promises to be a Star Trek type game, but it is still about Combat. I laugh. I cry. I facepalm. I enrage. I get pissed off every game is about Combat, Combat, Combat. I know my greatest weakness is my art. So I say to myself spur of the moment, "I will try to draw a pixel art space guy in the FTL style. If I can't draw any art for this, I can't even make the game." I pretty much fail. Durrrrrrr! Right before I give up, I decide "What the hell? I'll try one more time." What is this? Something resembling what I want? Awesome! Football!!! Again one more time and...Voila! I have a really awesome looking Star Trek pixel art guy! Let's color him! I create the idea. I now have the artistic means to make a pixel art space game. What's one of my favorite games? Starflight, by far. Also when I first loaded up FTL before playing it, I thought to myself, "OMG, I have my own Star Trek Crew! And Ship! OMG OMG OMG!" It would be pretty great if I made a game that was what I thought of FTL Before I realized it was nothing like I imagined. That means I basically have to make a completely different game, but I really like some elements of FTL. What if my game was similar, but you got to make your OWN ship? I made a prototype in Unity (left and right side of images). I went as far as trying to see if I could easily draw exterior graphics to the ship's white squares (right) and how one could differentiate the professions by room color (left). It was really really fun to custom make your own ship, but ultimately & unfortunately... not right for the game. I tried to capture that feeling. It's only from memory, but I tried to remember my thoughts, expectations, and excitement when I first loaded up FTL. Those first few hours of playing, before I realized how simple and shallow the game was. Can't remember much, but I think I got the jist of it! I play Starflght. Still pretty great game, but some parts are kindof lame. Great enough where I think I will want to remake this. Taking lots of notes. Dissect the game's systems and design. "It has dialogue encounters with aliens. It has ship upgrades. It has crew upgrades and crew positions that are entirely pointless but sound awesome! It has mining on planets. It has a story." Time to make a Starflight inspired travel map / gameplay. Okay, that failed. Let's Try Again! Wow, I really really like this! I love the red dot representation, and IMO the universe is gorgeous! Another designer gave me a tip to make the movement go into "warp drive" but I wanted it slow in the big map. So I made it "warp drive" in the solar system map but not the universe map.I add my own feature to make the idea more unique. "Starflight is cool and all, but I don't want to remake it or clone it, do I? It's a popular game, so it's a great fallback if my own ideas don't pan out. People would buy a Starflight remake with FTL graphics no doubt. However, I can do better can't I? Hmm... maybe a customized space ship? People would love a FTL game where you could build your own ship. Idk..." and then I plan on making game systems similar to Starflight before adding in my features. If my features prototype poorly, I will default to a starflight clone. If my features are awesome, I can always change the rest. Yea, I definitely don't want my game to be anything like FTL. That game was exillierating, but ultimately pretty damn disappointing. Too simple. Plus it's entirely about Combat. That is the LAST thing I want in my treky game. "I will be better than FTL! Muahahahhaa!" I watch a similar themed television show. Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I loved the series. I took note on why I loved it. What made that show great. "It's the characters! The characters!" The moral dilemma's, the non-violent resolution, the technology, the diplomacy. It's Captain Picard. "I want to make a game where the player feels like they're Captain Picard!" and "I want to emphasize the Science! Lots of Science!" Last but not least, "I knew it had nothing to do with Combat. Mother *#$@#ers and their obsession with Combat. Star Trek is the anti-thesis of Combat." I create systems to emphasize those feelings. What does a captain do? He runs his ship. How? By having a crew of course! Who are those crew? An engineer! A science officer! A tactical officer! Hmm... those professions seem very important. I'll allow the player to customize their ship based on the profession type. If they pick a lot of tactical officers, they'll be a war ship. If they pick a lot of science officers, they'll be a science vessel. So the player is a captain, and that captain takes action through his crew. The specialized crew will then fulfill whatever need they're suppose to serve. So a tactical officer will need a combat feature. The science officer will need a feature to do "Science". The engineer can upgrade the ship, so I should add in ship upgrades. So the game should be focus on the Crew + Ship Upgrades. I add my own taste to those ideas. I like my games realistic. What would a future starship have? What are some of my favorite TV show characters? Ohhh, I love the psychologists. I also love the bartenders. Psychologist & Bartender should be their own profession. Also I'm a Foodie. There should be a Chef Profession. Most importantly, I add in my favorite features and themes in all my games. Travel is incredibly important. Difficulty, as I'm a hardcore gamer. Depth, because I'm sick of shallow stuff. Innovation, because I hate how derivative the industry is. Non-violent resolution, because games are incredibly violent and always defined by killing people. Even when they add the skill "Science" it is just another way to add combat buffs to killing things. Also I'm a huge fan of having an enormous amount of playable races. Since the pixel art is so easily created (I could create and fully animate a new species in 1 hour, 3 if it was a brand new non-humanoid species). I developed all the professions. Still vague, so I need some game design details. They need game systems. Okay...so what do you do in my game? Well...you roam space in your Ship and you encounter story. How should I do story? I'll have "Events". Like alien encounters in Starflight, or maybe something like Point & Click adventure games. I sure do love Point & Click Adventure Games. Maniac Mansion, Scooby Doo for Sega, TellTale's Walking Dead, Simon the Sorcerer, oh man! So... how do you play "The Ship"? You upgrade it... and...things break down. Item Decay! The engineer repairs...er wait...everyone maintains the ship in some way! So... "Ship Maintenance" and "Events". Every profession should do one thing for each. The tree is from right to left. If you notice, I have all professions listed in my GDD. In this section are their "Actions". The ways in which they actually play out. The beginning of creation of the game systems. Note: This is not the actual GDD in its present state. This is some random screenshot of some part of my GDD somewhere near the beginning. It's all I could find showing the early stuff. ex. The Navigator manages fuel & avoids weather (asteroid fields, space lightning, etc.) and during events they transport the crew and stealth the ship! I begin to just jot down ideas. Whether on the official GDD, on scratch paper, or in notebooks. I do this a lot. I've probably written the "Professions- Actions:" out 20+ times. Sometimes I forget and come up with different ideas. I try to achieve balance with each profession. Each profession needs to, all by itself, be fun. There shouldn't be a boring profession. The player should be able to play any of them and have fun. They should also be very different. (This is why the Chef was combined with the Entertainer. It's why the Rookie was removed entirely and set aside in "Unnecessary, but maybe later." pile of ideas.) Every component of your game should have a purpose. I refined these ideas and their playable systems over and over until they work well. I need them to make each profession feel powerful, capable, worthwhile. I need them to be balanced, and for each to have not just a purpose, but a strong purpose. After all, these professions ARE the game! This is how I achieve replayability. This is how I allow players to have individuality. They prioritize each of these professions and decide what kind of ship they need to be. So now I know any gameplay I create needs to revolve around these systems. So what about the Ship? How big does it need to be? How do I graphically represent it? Should I make it customizable? I initially drafted some concept art. A customized "engineer only ship". (Back when the engineer handled teh teleporter.) I like that, but idk. Captain Picard's ship was truly massive. How would I do that? Maybe red dots to represent living crew since they'd be so tiny? So should each room be a "Profession Room"? I really dislike that. I like the red dots though. I like the smaller FTL style ships a lot more. The more I thought about it, the less I liked other people's ideas (FTL) and the more I wanted something entirely different. Something that made more sense for my game, since it was so different. I also hated how in a large ship (which is what I wanted) my crew were so tiny. Zooming in/out sounded like a bad option.