Consider two camps of game developers: experienced and inexperienced. You would expect both these groups to face different challenges in game development. Because we assume experienced developers to know what they are doing and inexperienced developers to be unsure.
But if you look at the common problems either camps face, you’ll notice the problems are technically the same. Only the magnitude is different.
At the beginning of its life cycle, most games have few features. But what features the game has would be top-notch. Then, to increase revenue developers add new features. And most of the time, this backfires.
This phenomenon is called Feature Creep. Feature Creep is when adding new features make a game or application worse, rather than better.
The reason is that new features tend to distract from a game’s core user experience. It takes away from what made the game fun to play in the first place. Sometimes, the addition of new features also makes games unstable. Because it leads to crashes, bugs, and performance issues.
Then eventually, the players who loved the game started to dislike it and stop playing.
Keep in mind that sometimes, less is more. More features don’t mean your game will become better. So whenever you think about new features, think about what it adds to your game and also what it takes away from your game. Assess if the new features will improve your core gaming experience or distract your players from it.
Implement new features only if the answers are positive.
A proper GDD can be a good asset. It will have basic information about your game and the technical requirements for development. In addition, it can give your development process structure, eliminate confusion, and reduce conflicts.
But in recent times, it has become a trend to not create GDDs for games. The game developers who follow this practice say the GDD prevents creativity and the flexibility to change their game development approach based on reality.
On the other hand, not having a GDD is also problematic. It leads multiple teams to work on their own which results in a mess, rather than a playable game.
You should change your mindset about GDDs. Your game’s GDD doesn’t have to be a rigid set of rules. Instead, you can view it as a set of guidelines to follow.
So, if you find that something in your GDD is not what would be good for your game, change it. You can do this even during the middle of the development.
Many game developers believe a game is only as good as the tool you use to build it. This is one of the reasons why top game companies build games in their own in-house game engines.
But whether you are an experienced game developer or an inexperienced one, you don’t have to build your own tools for development. Because there are plenty of game development tools and game engines available in the market.
Research. First, outline your specifications: the concept, the genre, the art style, etc. Then, decide whether your game is a personal project or a commercial one.
Finally, look at your budget. After you complete all three steps, you visit the website of each of the game engines and tools and look at their features and pricing. Assess what each tool or engine is good at.
Then pick the best tools and game engines based on your game’s specifications, project aims, and budget.
Today’s top game development companies spend a lot of time and money to find the right developers to develop their games. Because they understand that the wrong team members can derail their game’s development.
A good team meanwhile can develop games better, quicker, and cheaper. But whether it be experienced developers, beginner developers, or game companies, everyone finds it hard to build the right team.
The characteristics that good teams have in common are a shared vision and core values, diversity of thought, understanding of each individual responsibilities, and accountability.
To build such a team, you need to treat entry to your team as a luxury. So spend time when you hire each developer. Look at the experience and past works of each candidate. See if their portfolio matches your team’s requirements and only if you are sure about their potential, should you hire them.
It can be tempting to make sure everyone loves your game. But no matter how hard you try, not everyone you show your game to will like your game.
In fact, trying to make everyone fall in love with your game can be counterproductive. You might even end up ruining your game.
Instead, it is better to develop your game for a specific set audience. And then tailor your game’s experience towards them. This way, you can acquire the right users for your game.
One way to find your game’s target audience is to look at the audience of your competitor’s games.
Narrow down a list of games that are similar to yours. The games don’t have to have your game’s exact ideas and features but should be something similar.
Then, find out the details of the audience of these games: their age, gender, income level, job, etc. Once you have these details, create a target audience persona.
Finally, tailor your game experience towards this persona and ignore other audiences.
If you have multiple choices, you can assess different possibilities, narrow down the best, and then choose the right one.
So you might think having numerous choices is good. But in reality, having too many choices can hamper your decision-making. Because the more choices you have, the more you worry about making the right choice and the less you become satisfied with the choice you make.
This psychological phenomenon is called the Paradox of Choice.
In game development the Paradox of Choice normally comes in two decisions: 1) choosing the tools to develop, and 2) choosing the idea to develop.
The first case is when you find that many game engines and tools are equally adept to make your game. The second case is when you can’t decide whether you should develop one idea over the other.
The solution to the Paradox of Choice is to pick one choice and commit to it. Pick one game engine and discard the others. Choose one idea and ignore the rest.
But these choices are hard. However, the good news is there are many methods you can use to improve this process.
One of these methods is writing. Writing helps you think better. You can write down all the choices, their pros, and cons, and you get an objective perspective on them.
A second method is to pick your choice based on your values. Note down what you value the most in terms of game development. Is it creativity? Is it innovation? Then pick the choice that aligns the most with your core values.
At the beginning of game development, both experienced and inexperienced developers alike are uncertain of their game idea. Both sets of developers question themselves if their ideas are good or not.
And the truth is, you will never develop a game whose idea you are 100% certain of. No matter how good it is, you will be uncertain about it.
And this is a good thing. Because uncertainty makes you creative. It makes you think out of the box to come up with better ideas.
Certainty on the other hand will cripple your ideas.
You can eliminate a lot of uncertainty around your idea by creating a prototype. By prototyping your game, you get an idea of how good, viable, and fun your game idea is.
You can even show your prototype to others. If the feedback they give is positive, you can go forward with development with full confidence. And if their feedback is negative, you can iterate the idea or choose a better one.
Some developers try to make their games perfect. These game developers try to make sure the game has no bugs, framerate drops, or performance issues at the time of release.
This striving for perfection backfires. You avoid releasing your game as it never matches your standards of perfection.
Understand that even the idea of perfection you have in your mind is imperfect; in short, perfection doesn’t exist.
So no matter how hard you try, your game is never going to be perfect. You will always make a few mistakes. You will always find out some ways to improve your game after release.
Instead, try to make your game ‘good enough.’ Try your hardest to make every element in your game good. Test your game, and find out and resolve as many bugs and issues as you can.
Some developers ignore the problems we have mentioned here. These developers deny that these problems exist, even when they are facing them. This is not a good approach.
Instead, you should face these problems head-on. Find ways to solve these problems and others, rather than ignore them. You’ll become a better developer because of it. And your game will become better because of it.