Having decided on the *perfect* idea for a right sized game, we set out to start development. I have been on both ends of the game development funding spectrum and can say that indie studio’s often take the wrong approach when it comes to setting a project up for success. Often times, and understandably, indie studio’s take short cuts. I would argue that no steps in the game creation process are more curtailed than the design process and the initial stages of the implementation process. This can lead to much more difficult development and unforeseen, perhaps insurmountable issues.
Create a proper design document. Outline purpose, functionally and sketch up as many things as you can. Ask yourself how this component fits into the system (the game). Is it doing too much? It is good practice to break out your UML book to design the system as well as each individual component. Yes, this takes time…. lots of it. When it comes to the development stages, you will NOT regret it. This process provides better insight regarding time lines, which will allow you to properly milestone the project.
After this is complete, it’s time to manage your teams expectations. Set up a proper development plan/cycle. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. More small steps are better then fewer large steps. Be honest with yourself and your team.
Here are some fantastic tools that have helped me along the way
- Ace Project (www.aceproject.com) is a project management application with excellent tools. Project tracking, milestone tracking, bug tracking, Gant charts, and more. Free for up to 5 users per account.
- StoryboardTools is a free story boarding application, with a simple to use interface. Very useful for directing the story of a game.
- Bit Bucket (www.bitbucket.com) provides free, PRIVATE, repository hosting for up to 5 users per project. Use a version control from the very beginning, this is key when collaborating on a project and bit bucket provides the hosting space for a git project.
- Gimp is a mature, robust art application. Useful in many ways during the design process.
- Poseidon for UML. Great little app that does everything you need for UML diagrams. Community edition is free.
Again, I hope that this read was interesting and perhaps even useful.