This may surprise you, but one simple mistake in your creative process can cause you to spend months longer making your game than you really should. The worst part is that this is a process that literally can be done in one afternoon. That Game Development Mistake? Coming up with a plan for your game. Before you even write one line of code. Before you add a single prefab or node tree, consider planning out the following:
- Is your game 2D or 3D?
- Will you be doing levels, open-world? How many locations?
- What kinds of NPC’s will there be? How many?
- Do you have swappable gear? If so how many varieties?
- How does the gameplay work?
- How does game progression work?
- What are the objectives in your game? If it’s a puzzle game how is it structured, if it’s a questing game how do you accomplish the quests?
- Are there any special mechanics in your game?
- Is there anything special about the physics in your game?
- How will you be doing inventory management?
- How will the player interact with the world?
- What art assets will you need to have? Which ones do you have already, which ones must you create/buy?
That’s about it. That’s not a huge time investment to answer these questions for yourself but it will allow you to be in a much better position for a variety of the game development challenges you’re about to face.
Feature Creep in Game Development
Perhaps the greatest bane to a game developer is feature creep. This happens when you’re making your game, and you think to yourself, “This one feature would be amazing!” and then you add it. Again and again. Several months go by and then you realize, I made a critical game development mistake and I am never going to be able to release this game.
If you had had a planning document such as the one described here, perhaps you wouldn’t have run into this situation. There will still be times when you come up with an amazing idea mid-development cycle, but you have to go back to your planning guidelines and then make an honest decision with yourself, is it worth adding to the game at this stage? If it is, then work it into your plan, if it’s not, then add it to your list of ideas to try in future projects.
You can ALWAYS make more projects! Game Development isn’t going anywhere, one of the greatest gifts humanity has is its ability to tell stories and Game Development has become an exceptional medium for it.
Advertising and Building A Following In Game Development
Go check out a few of the more successful Patreons for Independent Game Developers. Do you see anything in common?
They all have lists of features that they will give you in their games. They have a general idea of when things will happen, and they, for the most part, aren’t just whipping things together willy-nilly. This is important because it lays the groundwork for fans of independent game development to see real progress as they put their projects together. Seeing this progress is exciting to your fans and by not making this game development mistake you can help them to feel part of your development cycle, which should translate to more sales when your game hits the market.
By knowing the features ahead of time, you’re further able to plan when your game development cycle will end. Sure you may be off by a couple of months — and this is why you should always add at least a couple of months — but you will be able to build excitement for your game by having a release date advertised. As that date draws near, you can pump it up on your YouTube channel or your Twitter, and if players are excited about the features and look of your game your wishlist will grow and grow!
Milestones and Motivation in Game Development
This is probably the biggest one. What is more motivating to your game development experience than checking off boxes on your gigantic project. Before you know it 3/4’s of your game tasks are done, and you’ve got plenty of time to fine-tune and finish off the rest. You can see real progress, rather than just the mass of scenes/node trees that comprise your game.
That real progress will build excitement not only in your fans but also in you. Your vision is quickly taking shape and will soon be ready to take the world by storm. It’s easy to make the game development mistake of not doing enough planning, but it seems this it’s almost necessary for the optimal game development experience.
You Can Do It!
So I’ve said my bit, and I wish you the best of luck on your current projects. Why don’t you share a few of them below!
If you haven’t started making Your Game Today, what’s holding you back?
Originally published at https://yourgametoday.com on April 25, 2021.