Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Flowchart is the name I have chosen to use to describe the use of diagrams composed of elements (e.g. shapes, icons, images, etc.) connected by arrows to document, analyze or communicate the design of a game.

As a game design tool, a flowchart is mostly used during the design phase. Strict and complex flowcharting methods (e.g. UML) make flowcharting inflexible and less compatible with iterative and evolutionary design processes, used correctly a flowchart can be created quickly and offers a visual reference to the flow or structure of a game’s design. In general, a flowchart offers:

  • Visual documentation to the game design (e.g. game mechanics, play mechanics, game-play experience, level and mission flow.)
  • An analysis of objects and their relationships

There are several ways you may want to use a flowchart as one of your game design tools.

(1) Picking a Method (Formal vs. Informal)
The advantage of formal flowchart methods (i.e. UML) is that they are detailed and standardized thus making legible and predictable, which is ideal for in-depth analysis and documentation of a game’s design. Informal flowcharts are ideal for quick documentation and analysis, while potentially being less legible.

(2) Determine the Scope
A powerful aspect of a flowchart is that a flowchart can be used to analyze, document and communicate specific aspect of game’s design. For example, a flowchart may be limited to documenting the game mechanics, play mechanics, game architecture, vertical slice, horizontal slice, core-gameplay, etc.

(3) Analysis
When using flowcharts for analysis a game designer should look for inconsistencies and redundant relationships in the design. Something like core game-play should be flowcharted as a closed system where any dead-end should represent game over.

(4) Communication 
If trying to communicate design to visually oriented people, flowcharts offer a simple and technical way to visually communicate a game's design in motion. I recommend the use of flow charts a standard aspect of any game design document, which helps make it more legible to wider range of readers.

Flowchart in Tools for Creation / Game Design Tools / Game Design


Structuring Key Design Elements  (Bethke 2003)

The Chemistry Of Game Design (Cook 2007)


The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Schell 2008)

Fundamentals of Game Design: 2nd Edition (Adams & Rollings 2009)

Game Design Workshop, 2nd: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (Fullerton et al. 2008)

Introduction to Game Development (Barry 2005)

Game Design: From Blue Sky to Green Light (Todd 2007)

Game Testing All in One (Schultz 2005)