It’s not easy to speak with people about designing games. When I talk to people about designing games, I’m usually told about “features” as a game. Or, they will provide feedback like your game needs this feature. I’ll admit features are important but they don’t translate to the “core” design of the game. As an example, I’m working on my game Nerepis. Nerepis is a combat oriented multiplayer based game. That’s the game. It’s not a feature or a design decision related to the game. So, you may be asking at this point, “How do I design the core of the game?”. Every game is different but essentially it’s some type of condition within a loop.
As an example, in a multiplayer game like Nerepis, for the Deathmatch game type, players will battle each other for the highest score and the highest score wins. So the condition is the winning (usually based on kills) and the loop is spawning back into the world until the condition is met. What if there are no-respawns like Fortnite or Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)? The win condition is being the last person alive out of 100 players and the “loop” is a conditional loop where the play area gets smaller over time. It’s the condition and loop that make the game, everything else is a feature built on top of the loop/condition design. If “core” of the game is designed properly, the rest of the game is relatively east to implement.
Let’s continue to use Fortnite/PUBG as an example. Do you want to add weapons? That should not be a problem provided they are fair and balanced. Do you want to add new players into a game that’s already underway? This challenges the “core” idea of the game. Yes, the game game be programmed to do it but there will be challenges with implementation. What challenges you ask? It creates a bully-ish type of scenario. The new players spawned in have no resources/ammo/etc and it will not be fun to spawn into a game where everyone has all the resources. A designer needs to be on guard for these types of scenarios because it creates situations which aren’t fun for all players. However, you can take this idea and make it fun. For the new players spawning in, maybe you take the top 10 players from 10 games and then start a new game where everyone keeps their weapons. This type of implementation works because it’s fair and is sort of tournament like in it’s design. The players in the top 10, keep their weapons and are facing off against new rivals.
If you are starting out, my best advice is to figure out the “core” of the game you want to make, and then get the core working. After it’s working, then and only then can you add features.