View Full Version : Design suggestions?
10-25-2004, 10:37 AM
Hello, i'm Keith, a few of you may know me. I'm working on a game, and i'm wondering if anyone here has any tips on formally executing production on a game. I've finished a few, sold a few copies and so forth, but most of those were seat-of-my-pants development. I wonder if anyone has any idea for splitting up a game into various elements and parts and how to produce them formally. I have the story idea, and some sketches done but that's about it. I want to be able to possibly split it up and measure my progress, but I don't really know how to go about that. Like how do I go about designing my levels, do i make a prototype level and then worry about everything else when that works. Should I pre-design all my levels on paper first? Should I let the tool decide? Do I need a design doc? As an indie do I need to keep track of how much money I spend, for paper, or various computer hardware. Do I need to guage my time or what. Note i'm not asking these questions in particular, but these are the types of questions I would like some advice for.
Keith W. II
10-25-2004, 10:47 AM
Jeff Tunnel from GarageGames spoke about the design stage of the process at this years IGC...
10-25-2004, 11:52 AM
Well, a lot will depend on the type of game.
Do I make a prototype level and then worry about everything else when that works.
Yes, if you're working with a new technology or engine. Get the basics working first so that you know both your limitations, AND what looks good. Making the most of what looks good and the least of what does not is important.
Should I pre-design all my levels on paper first?
For my last game Taskforce I did design all of the levels on paper first, but the 2D strategic elements made it worthwhile (because it saved time in the mapper program). Design just one level at first and get that playing. That way you'll know what size and complexity of level works best. Play a lot too as you go because you'll probably discover neat levels and fun things for the player that you did not think of in the design phase. Taskforce was my 42nd game, and all but 2 had no prior level designs on paper.
Do I need a design doc?
If you're working alone and don't need to show anyone the design then probably not, although some sort of formal book of notes with your ideas should be there in case you think of some cool idea and later lose it. I tend to produce a formal design AFTER completion of the game in case I come back to the idea, but during development rely on some notes about features, and allow for plenty of evolution and play testing as the game goes on. No game ever goes to plan. Ever.
As an indie do I need to keep track of how much money I spend, for paper, or various computer hardware?
Budgetting is good. In the UK I can claim the tax back on certain equipment I buy ("Capital Allowances"). Adding up the costs on food/electricity/work hours and things seems unnecessary to me.
Do I need to guage my time...
Scheduling is important, but at first you won't know what task takes what time. Never over estamate the time because you'll end up doing the task early and then smiling happily while relaxing your way to the next milestone (well, I do!) and not much work gets done. At least note a step by step path to completion where you can fill in the times when you have started the task, eg.
1. Get basic graphics engine up and running.
2. Design sprites.
3. Front end/title screen.
4. Design one level and fly through.
5. Make game playable at basic level.
6. Make game playable as finished.
7. Load/save game.
8. Testing, polishing, completion.
9. Artwork for promotion and packaging, and the website.
10. Press releases, reviews.
Note: It's a never ending list!
10-25-2004, 12:23 PM
Thanks for the suggestions so far. I wanted to clarify, I wasn't so much asking about how to design a game, as much as how do I structure it, so I can correctly chart my progress and my time. How do I design it so I can see any progress, things of this nature.
10-25-2004, 04:59 PM
You could try Mark's suggestions above and subdivide them into smaller tasks, then set goals that you write down as to when you want to complete them by.
So you make a list of the overall tasks then the smaller ones and say:
I finish feature Y by March 1, 2005.
I finish the game art by March 30, 2005 and integrate it into the game.
I fix all critical bugs by April 30, 2005.
I choose a payment provider and build my webpage by May 30, 2005.
I release my game June 15, 2005 and register it with 25 different software sites.
I increase the incentives for people to buy it through July 15 and make 10 sales in my first month.
This then helps you be motivated to accomplish your goals and you learn by seeing how long it took you to do things. Perhaps you planned for a month of bug fixes but finished that in only a week, but setting up your webpage took 2 months instead of 1 because you don't know anything about webpages. Or you overestimated the artwork time needed because you're really good at art or just decided to buy it all from a third party site.
This may not be what you were looking for, either, but it's something to think about doing, nonetheless.
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