Anyone sane enough to run a game project must be mad!
If that doesn’t put you off:
1) Before you start:
You’ve come up with a great idea, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t underestimate the time it will take to finish There is so much to do in a game, much more than just drawing up concepts. Most games that are good to play and re-play take even a professional studio a year or so. Don’t expect to produce a decent game in less time than that. Give it a year or two at least. Think you can keep up the commitment? Here is my time management planner in percentage of time to create:
[INDENT] 2% Planning and concepts
20% AI programming (yes, more programming)
60% Level making
100% Blood, sweat and tears (bug fixes)
Even after you have “finished” the game there is still a lot more to do… Things like posters around the web, websites and so on. Get people to your game.
The success of many games can be measured through google images. Try googling Halo and you will receive millions of hits. Try “invasion of the mutant space bats of doom” (yes it is a game) and you will get very few, despite it being older. My project, although not even finished yet is already out there thanks to having a website and other “advertising” material around on the web. (try “Defender 6DOF”)
- Pick an audience No-one will buy a completely out there game, but then your typical FPS might not succeed either, due to their being to many. A successful game will be in a popular style, but with something a little different, like having only one life (ever seen a FPS like that yet?). You have to chose a game that you have an audience for that you know will appreciate it. For my game Defender I have an audience of several hundred that pounce on anything I do, thanks to the remnants of Descent 1, 2 and 3, a similar game. I knew about them in advance, and asked their what they wanted in a new game (if descent was revised/remade sought of thing). That way I knew there would be people to play my game, even in the early stages.
- If it’s your first project - Don’t expect your first project to be an instant winner, the new Crysis, the best game being downloaded millions of time within days of it’s first release. Your first serious game project (even if it isn’t a team project) will likely look pretty bad. That’s fine, your second one, building on the skill of your first will be much better.
I am not intending to offend anyone here, but which are you more likely to join? A team with a leader that lays out ideas clearly and in an easy to read manner or a team who’s posts consist of text language that you have to struggle to make out every second word, let alone a complete sentence. If you read aloud each post before you post it then you will find many errors. If you don’t speak English as your first language, then consider using a translation engine, or getting someone else to check your posts. While this may be a bother it will help.
None of this copyright nonsense.
People will not join a project that they can’t at least try playing. It simply isn’t worth the effort to join and then quit if you don’t like it. For this reason, keep things open source, people on mac and Linux don’t like people who release only .exe’s, and for some reason they seem to be the best programmers too.
Also, make sure that you don’t infringe on someone else’s copyright.
- Don’t expect others to do work for you. If you expect everyone else to do the work while you direct it, forget the whole idea. It simply doesn’t work that way. It might if you pay them, but then you may as well start up your own game studio. Be prepared to model, texture, rig, animate and program for at least the first 2 months. Also, if you are prepared to do everything yourself then you won’t be discouraged when people pull out or don’t do things correctly and such.
- Only present your game when you have something to show for it. People are much more likely to join a game that shows some actual progress already than to join one that is starting from zero. %99 of games that start with “I have the best idea ever” die within a week, where-as projects that start with “For the past 2 months I have been working on ### idea, and here’s how far I have got” are far more likely to get team members and also more likely to be finished
- Show off your progress. When you first post no-one will take any interest what-so-ever. They just think “Oh, another newbies project, it will die soon.” If you show that you can keep going for a month or two then people will start joining.
- Size of Team A big teams better, right? Wrong. The bigger the team, the more confusion, and the bigger the mess (in many cases). A smaller team that communicates well is more likely to get a project with objects that look they belong together.
Not changing your ideas hugely mid-production. A game that starts off as an FPS, then moves to RTS and ends up being 3rd person will never happen. If you change your mind half way your project will fail. Not only will the programmers kill you, but the other team members who wanted to make a FPS will leave. Changing details is fine (specifics in the story line, level order etc)
Don’t make promises you aren’t absolutely certain you can keep. If you promise to release content on a particular date and don’t, it gives you a bad reputation. You will suffer no disrepute for sticking to a policy of ‘It’ll be done when it’s done’. Good work takes time.
Ignore the “Hanger Ons” There are many people out there who will join a project, and then never contribute. You can just ignore them, no use bugging them to do anything, as they likely never will. If you really want you could remove them from the shared folder, but I can’t be bothered with them myself.
Take Breaks Please don’t kill me for this, but it is important. If you keep on at your project every day of the week for a month, you will run out of motivation very quickly, and the project will die. Instead take breaks, switch what you are doing. Instead of programming, do some modeling, or take a break entirely, and make a quick scene for a week long contest. You will come back full of enthusiasm, ready to continue where you left off.
Keep contact with your members. IRC is the best way, as it allows conversation. Emailing is just too slow. If someone asks a question, and has to wait 3 hours for the answer he is likely to give up after a short while. communication helps:
Keep up morale - encouragement goes a long way
Co-ordination - When people communicate they are much more likely to work together to create something good. Without good communication people naturally (for some reason) start working cross-purposes.
Another good thing to note is keeping everyone in the team up to date. This is always a challenge. For this reason forums are good. Also worthy to mention is file collaboration software. Pick something that the team members don’t have to download every single update (Google Docs is an example of this). A far better system is one where it auto-updates the files as they are changed. My favorite is dropbox, and it even has 2 gigabytes free space.4) When you're done: (Speculation alert, not many have made it to this point to give information) Woo Hoo. You've finished!
- Be Proud. Go back to the first section and look at my time planner. See the last entry? the one that goes “100% blood sweat and tears” Well, look at what you’ve pushed through. Be proud. Show off. Get your project advertised, available to the public and so on. If you had fun, then start another. It will likely be even better!
- Bug Fixes. You thought it was finished? Nope, a game is never finished. You can make more levels, improve on bugs, extend game play. Of course, you could just all it quits and leave the users to experiment.
- Release for multiple platforms. Call your friends on Mac, Linux, and windows to make binaries for as many systems as possible. This lets non blender users play your game. But release the blend too, people love to experiment, and try their hand at making things “cooler” You may wish to add headers to your script or other such things to inform people about the license.
Well, what do you think. Post below and I’ll add any sensible suggestions to this post.