Knowing what you want makes it easier to make decisions early on. Write it down or talk about it with someone and it will help you to get a clearer vision. Doing this early on will make your prototype more focused. How early you want to decide on this all depends on you. Some like to start with a clear idea and form the game around that, others like to mess around with the mechanics until committing to a direction that seems to work. In any case, it is important you find what you’re game is going to be about as early as you can. Or better put:
“Very often a game comes from messing around and experimenting, but at some point an intent must form. When an intent is decided upon, a game can form around that.” –Rami
For Circles, defining the focus became especially important since it’s such an abstract game. You can go so many ways, essentially anything is possible. Without a focus the game would have gotten cluttered really fast. I tried to focus on a simple core and made sure all the elements supported it.
There were 3 core-values I aimed for:
Control comes from the fact that nothing in the game acts on its own, everything is controlled by you and your cursor alone.
Experimentation is then needed to find out find out what you actually control and how to get the end. You don’t see how to solve a puzzle or what the circles do until you start moving and discovering them.
Accessibility was added a bit later and made sure there was enough feedback to guide the experimentation. The game doesn’t tell you what to do, so it’s easy to get lost. It had to be clear what to do and what not to.