Crazed Thoughts: Why there is no design document

DISCLAIMER: So, welcome to another entry to my mind! These are unedited, have bad grammar and possible spelling issues. haven’t heard of structure and are NOT final. I’m not quite sure if anyone reads these but the main purpose is for me to get my thoughts out and register and digest them. So, let us begin with a subject I feel I need to touch on. Both for myself, and also I feel you guys need an explanation.

So, I’m not going to lie I have tried to sit down multiple times and write a design document for Trillek, yet everytime I run into the same conundrum!

“Gah! I’m inflating the scope too much!”

“This doesn’t sound fun!”

“This is stupid and tacky!”

“How will this work in-game?!” (this is important)

Each of these issues end up to me closing my google doc in rage and falling asleep again, (this often happens at 4am) only to wake up and realize that those ideas were stupid. Whether or not they are is not the point, before I continue ranting I’d like to bring this quote to attention

– “You can have the greatest design document ever made, and you’re going to change 90 percent of it as soon as you play the game.”

– Todd Howard, game director at Bethesda Game Studios

Now whether or not you like his work or not, he has some wise things to say. I don’t know if a certain feature is fun or not unless I can actually play it. Now, I’m not excusing my laziness for figuring out some core concepts but I do want to stress that for a while a lot of these features won’t be written down until we can actually play the game and see what trillek is. Trillek is a beast of a game, and I’m trying to control it. But goddamnit every day I want to just say “Hey guys, I’ve got a new subtitle for Trillek. A First-Person Space Dwarf Fortress where all interaction is done through the player’s own sight and not menus.” I’m not going to lie,  I am steering it in that direction. But I’m not saying that it’s going to be that, until it actually is.

Just a quick secondary disclaimer, you may think I’m the only one designing this game. I’m not we’re always talking about Trillek and it’s game. At the moment I’m just the only person who’s an “official” designer (as well as other stuff) on Trillek. So I’m currently the only one really working in that area, also the use of “I” should be replaced with  “we” but that breaks everything sadly.

Anyways, really while we’re not jumping in the deep end with no concepts or ideas we’re going to be adlibbing some of this, however I created a series of Design Rules to make sure that these features are useful, and we’re not cluttered with tons of unpolished features.

1. Is it fun for you?

2. Does it make sense?

3. Can this other feature do the same job?

4. Is it simple?

5. Does it change anything major?

6. Did you get this feature from a game? If not, what is your inspiration?

That last one is important, mainly because of how people take features from other games they play and like and try to fit it into their own game whether or not it fits. (See the addition of multiplayer into almost every AAA title) It doesn’t matter if everyone obsesses over that feature, does it fit? And more importantly, is Trillek fun for you? If it’s not, for the love of god man speak up! This is our own love letter to games, we’re making this for ourselves. If people don’t like it, they can change it. I want to stress that point a LOT! Simply because it’s what’s going to make Trillek…Trillek. Trillek came from a community of people looking for “that” game, and it’s being made by those people. Trillek is all about, you. Really, that’s the secret to game design. You.

Anyways, this is quite short but I really just needed to get these thoughts out. Please come on irc at #project-trillek (freenode) and talk to us. Or just talk on our forums, our subreddit or feel free to email me at [email protected] with any questions. If you’d like to help out, please contact our leads with information on how you can help.

Shane Dalton (myself)

Kontrol (For art and other minor rolls)

Adam (For Programming & other development things)

AmplitudeProblem (Sound)

Wolfy87 (Web & UI)

Until next time,

Shane Dalton – Project Lead


  1. lebonid

    I really would like to see the textures from 0x10c reused, I really like them, I’m sure Jonotan Poljo would be fine with it.

    1. Steve

      I agree, if Notch supports you guys, check it out.

    2. random.user

      heck maybe we could even get Notch to share the code if you ask nicely? I mean you are keeping the flame alive, so to speak


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