I wrote this article, inspired by this thread: http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=78643
Thanks to Social for writing it.
This article covers the ‘preparation’ of a game project, I also wrote something about working in teams. I hope it is helpfull.
I do not claim that this is the best methode, this is just the way that works for me.
A PROPER PRE-PRODUCTION
Often I see people with great game ideas,
but often this is just no more then a vague idea.
Mostly they do not take the time to properly prepare their project.
Instead, the first thing they do is opening Blender and starting off.
They start working on a game before they even know what kinda game they are
exactly trying to make. As a result: this project just dies after a few months.
It wouldn’t if the creator would take the time to prepare he’s project properly.
So how do we properly ‘prepare’ a game project?
I’ll try to explain…
Instead of ‘the preparation’, I’ll call the preparation of a game project ‘the Pre-Production’
(becuase ‘preparation’ is not as cool as 'pre-production :))
The Concept, the game idea
Try to come up with a unique idea,
people are not very intrested in the next Quake clone, they are just tired of running around with a gun and shooting everyone they see. Instead try to create something they have never seen before. Be creative.
Take your time to ‘develop’ this game idea, its better to take a month
and have a very exciting idea then having a stupid idea you came up with in less then an hour.
You are going to be working on this project for very long time (depending on the size of the project ofcourse),
so be sure you have a good game idea.
Ofcourse, be realistic. Design with your limitations in mind, don’t try to make something
when you are not skilled enough to finnish it.
Also, your game has to be fun… And developing a fun game is much harder then you maybe think,
I like to call it the Art of Game Design.
What is Game Design?
Some people seem to think that game design is “creating your game, like programming it and creating game assets and such”.
But that is not really correct,
Game Design is the art of designing the content, background and rules of a game in a way the people who will play the game (the players) also will enjoy it. I personally think its the most important
part of game development, if your game design is bad, your game will be bad.
Only a true Game Designer is able to create a game that is really ‘fun’.
How can you learn it? It is simple to understand, but very very hard to master. To become a true Game Designer you do not have to study at a university or anything like that, you have to read books, articles, practise, and have alot of patient.
I highly recommend to read this book:http://www.erasmatazz.com/free/AoCGD.pdf
It is old, but its free, and one of the best books about game design you can find. It is written by Chris Crawford, who is a very good game designer. He also wrote alot of intresting articles. You can find them on he’s homepage www.erasmatazz.com
The Design Document
Ok, now you have an idea of your game, you can write it down in a document called the Game Design Document (I like to call it just ‘Design Document’) and is the most important document of your whole project.
You have to be as detailed as possible when you are writing your game idea into the design document. Design documents of complex games are often more then 100 pages long.
Be sure your design document covers every aspect of your game, from top to buttom.
If you would like to see an example of a design document, here is the game design document of ‘Monolith Productions’ Claw Design Document:
Technical Design Document
A technical design document is a bit like a game design document, but it covers the technicall aspects of your project.
A technicall document is a document where you can:
- List projected system requirements and dependencies.
- Write an overview of how objects/functions/data interact.
- List all the classes/structures/variables, and what they are to contain.
- Specify coding conventions such as variable naming and commenting.
- List all the technologies the game uses, and how the game benefits from them.
- Specify coding conventions such as variable naming and commenting.
- List file types, data layout, etc.Its handy when you are programming the game and is especially helpfull when you are working in team.
WORKING IN TEAM
So… you want to develop a game with a team? You probably want to do this when you are developing a big, complex game.
But managing a team can be very hard, I’ll give some tips on how to manage a team,
and ‘playing the leader’ in a ‘proper’ way (yeah, I like the word ‘proper’ :)).
Before you can work in team, you have to find some people who want to work for you :).
So, write a simple description of the game you want to make. I recommend not to write
a whole design document, leave some place so your new team members can add some
features themselves, otherwise they won’t buy into your design and leave the team.
So post the simple description on a forum,
in your post you should tell who you need, a programmer, an artist, a story writer, a musican etc.
Tell what they have to do when they would join the team, be as detailed as possible.
Show in this post everything you already have like artwork, models, maybe you already have a litle demo etc.
Don’t be afraid to tell them how you will organize your project, the way you work and that kind of things.
Also give your post a nice layout, split it up in “chapters”. Just give it a nice and clear structure
If everything goes well some people will tell you they want to help you, choose wisely. Ask them to show some of their work, previous projects
they worked on etc. Take your time to choose a new team member,
having a good team is very very important.
Managing your team
You are the leader of this team, this means you are the one who has to manage it, and this is not easy.
Read anything on Team Management where you can get your hands on.
You are the one who has to motivate the team members, you have to be their for them, you will have to listen to their problems and try to solve those.
I also reccomend to set up a private wiki to store all your files on, like your design document and your technicall document, you can also write down the contact information of your team members here, or write down the deadlines and such.
A nice free wiki host is: http://pbwiki.com/
You can set up a free private wiki there.
Being a leader is not always easy you know… You set up wiki systems, you motivate everyone, solve the problems of your team members, but they do not solve yours, often they don’t even thank you for setting op a wiki or motivating them. They won’t motivate you, so self-motivation is for a leader a requirement.
If you want to read more on this topic, I recommend to take a look at the articles on this website: www.dexterity.com/articles/
Properly ‘preparing’ your game project will not just make your life in the ‘Production’ stage easier,
I think that the pre-production is the most important part of the development of a game because
the Game Design is also done in this stage.
I also think the reason why so many projects fail is because of the lack of a good preparation.
The Pre-Production is the “groundbase” where your game is build on, your game would just collapse without it.
So do it properly.