Once upon a time, I was a bright eyed and enthusiastic budding gaming student ready to storm the world stage with my genius and in just a year I've come to realize how disillusioned I was. Game development is no walk in the park, it takes every part of your time, skill, patience and an abundance of passion, and without it making games would be an impossible task. over this last year I have spent the better part of my time trying to create a game of any sort and during this time I've learned many lessons that I feel I should share for anyone who is about to plunge into the depths that is indie development. I should probably note that over the past year none of my personal projects have reached release and the total tally now stands at 6 games designed and 0 games released, we made all the rookie mistakes and though we had been told to avoid them we still walked straight into those basic blunders, if you are new to games development heed these warnings 3! yar!
1. Stay in Scope:
Nothing will kill your game faster than going from a 5 minute demo of your collective skills to an fps/mmo/rpg/rts/puzzle/facebook game in little over a week. Scope is the bane of the bright eyed enthusiast but most of all an artist’s weakness, all I can do is plead to any programmers dealing with artists demanding never ending game content, slap these fools... they’ve gone mad with power and will soon turn on you for brains. To put it simply, make your design realistic and then stick to it.
2. You NEED Deadlines:
All games have and need deadlines, if you don’t have one you will end up making your perfect little xbox live game for 20 years before its ready for release, No game ever meets its dream state of development, being a good designer means knowing what to jettison and what mechanics make your game worth playing. Telling that story you’ve had hidden away for years is less important than having a fun game. Deadlines need to be reinforced, if you’re in a small team elect a leader, rotate your role as leader every fortnight but make sure everyone is working towards that deadline.
3. Plan for the Future:
Define your concepts and designs before you begin the process, write a clear and detailed design document, it will prove endlessly useful in making sure that your vision is met, I’m not saying that your game won’t change dramatically throughout development but make sure you’re still making the same game you started out with, don’t go from a single player iPhone game to a multiplayer PC game. You need constants in development, define them from the word go; what console is this on? Is it multiplayer? What programs do you need? Can you make this for free? Don’t walk in blind, it’ll be a slaughter.
Games require passion, never ending devotion to an art that you love and even though I have faced 6 consecutive defeats in just under a year I still feel optimistic, I feel that you learn so much from failed projects and the more you engage in development the closer you will get to tasting the sweet success of having a released game. I’m blessed with two amazing team members that prove to be endlessly skilled, but if your'e new and looking to make games, talk to your community, go to letmakegames lectures and meetings, you’ve got a highly trained community just waiting for you to contribute.