Game Design

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The most current version of the FreeOrion game design can be found on the Requirements page.


The FreeOrion Design Team is responsible for maintaining and developing the gameplay of FreeOrion. The Design Team consists of a Lead Designer and the Creative Team, of whom one or two members (optionally) fill the positions of FreeOrion Designer. These terms are defined as follows:

Creative Team: Members of the FreeOrion community who contribute regularly to discussions on the Design board and in public reviews may be inducted into the Creative Team. This is an honorary title; it provides no additional authority or responsibility. We very much want to credit everyone who contributes regularly to this project, no matter what phase they came in on; consequently, people who frequent the Game Design board and post according to the rules, offer valuable insight into difficult questions, or otherwise exemplify the qualities of professional, critical debate, discussion, and design that are vital to the FO design team are brought on the team.

FreeOrion Designer: Members of the creative team who hold this title are considered part of the FreeOrion development team, and may have additional responsibilities relating to writing sections of the design document, technical documentation, forum moderation, conducting public reviews, and other administriva. These positions are not always filled.

Lead Designer: The Lead Designer is responsible for managing the design team, acting as a liaison to the other project teams, and for writing and maintaining the design document. The Lead Designer will direct discussion on the design board and conduct public reviews in accordance with the FreeOrion Mission Statemnet and other stated goals. The Lead Designer is also responsible for the workflow of the public side of the project -- integrating ideas, suggestions, and proposals into the development process.


I am pleased to announce the current roster of the FreeOrion Creative Team. This roster will be updated periodically. Please read on for answers to several FAQ regarding the creative team.

As of July 5, 2004:

Lead Designer: Aquitaine

Designers: Drek, Geoff the Medio

Past Designers:

Creative Team:
Geoff the Medio

Game Design FAQ

Q: I've been very active on this project and you haven't added me to the Creative Team!

A: This is very likely an oversight. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to when the team will be updated or what one must do to be on it, but this is on purpose, because there is also no difference between someone who is on it and someone who is not in terms of contributing to this project, and that is why we are here. The FO Creative Team is essentially a group of people to which the FO project wants to extend a big 'thank you!' for one reason or another who might otherwise not get credited (as programmers, artists, and musicians do).

Q: Should I email/PM you and complain?
A: You can, but this could be in poor taste, so if you really and truly feel slighted, then absolutely contact me, as I maintain this list. This is not a 'club,' it is not exclusive, and there are no special priviledges, which is why we are leery of having 'joining requirements' or anything silly like that. We all work for no pay, so it's just one of several ways we have of showing our appreciation.

Q: So I don't even get a pin? Thanks for nothing!
A: You can put it on your resume, if you like, and list "Aquitaine the one-eyed red Spathi" as a reference. But this may not be a good idea.

Q: Arg! I want a special title other than 'FreeOrion Creative Team!'
A: That would be favoritism. Butter us up first.

Q: I don't want to be on some stinking team! Take me off!
A: Uh. Okay.

Q: I used to be on the team but then I was banned because Aquitaine is a draconian forum moderator! Will I still get credited?
A: Absolutely. Short of really egregious offenses like trying to destroy our severs or impersonating Nightfish, your name gets carved in stone, even if you leave the project later for any reason. Also, the above has never happened, so this is purely hypothetical.

Q: I've posted three million times on Brainstorming or Rants and Raves or <some other board>. Why don't you add me?
A: You must be active on the Game Design board. The brainstorming boards and the 'chat' boards are provided as a convenience, and the FO team cannot always follow them.


A brief overview of the design process and boards:

  • Brainstorming Just about anything goes here, so long as the Rules are obeyed. If you have an idea for the game that you’d like to express, but it doesn’t fit into a current DESIGN thread, then this would be the board to post to.
It’s best to take a look at the Roadmap and Requirements documents before posting. If an aspect of the game has already been decided upon, it generally doesn’t do a lick of good to rehash the topic. If an aspect of the game isn’t slated to be decided until two or more versions in the future, then it’s likely that your ideas will be pushed down the forum and forgotten long before the topic is open for formal debate.
  • Story The Backstory of the game is more or less set in stone. Posts concerning the backstory are therefore generally not welcome. Posts to the story board generally consist of race descriptions. Since races are near the end of the Roadmap, not much attention is currently paid to the Story board.
Please don’t post descriptions of specific races to Brainstorming.
  • Game Design This is where the real action is. Only ordained designers (currently Aquitaine) may open new “DESIGN:” threads on this board. The threads in Game Design are meant for formally proposing and debating ideas for features pertaining to the topic at hand. Staying on topic in these threads is mildly important, so when in doubt post to Brainstorming instead.
  • Game Features First, this is the location of the “passed features” thread, which details features that have been approved for the game (in addition to the features in the formal design documents). “Passed features” are generally not open for debate—they are set in stone.
More importantly, this is where the Public Review occurs. An ordained designer will compile the ideas from a DESIGN thread into a Public Review thread. Anyone who feels the need may then voice their support for a specific idea.
Once a public review begins, it is too late to add new ideas for the feature being discussed. Posts to the public review threads should therefore be constrained to support or opposition to the ideas compiled from the DESIGN thread.
  • Design Archive This is where old DESIGN: and Public Review threads go to live in blissful retirement.

Have fun, Drek

Drek T. Idiot’s Design Rules of Thumb

When making a post to the Brainstorming or Game Design forums, it’s useful to keep the following in mind:

  • Realism arguments are frowned upon. Given two competing ideas, we’ll take the one that’s more fun over the one that’s more realistic.
Some realism arguments can get you banned. You’ll be nicely asked, then warned, and eventually asked to leave is you make realism arguments based on modern real world politics, religion, or other contentious issues. These sorts of issues tend to cause unproductive flamewars, so the Powers that Be have righteously taken a hard line on this issue.
  • KISS. Keep it simple. We tend to like simple game mechanics that can be successfully described to a bright child.
  • Decent English is a good thing. While it’s understood that not everyone speaks English as a first language, contributors should strive to make their postings as comprehensible as possible. Elite hacker speak, text messaging abbreviations, and other butcherings of the language are not at all encouraged.
  • Sliders suck. If your system/idea includes a slider to control some aspect of gameplay, rethink it. This item is more of a strong suggestion from me to you than a hard rule. It’s an argument that has been re-hashed on the boards numerous times and in my mind discussed to death.
  • AI is an oxymoron. If your system is dependant upon the computer making smart decisions for the player, rethink it. This especially includes Viceroys/smart build managers. Again, this argument has been re-hashed over and over again. This is another strong suggestion; not a hard rule.