Friday, March 4, 2011

How to Finish a Game

I've known a lot of talented indies who have had trouble finishing games- and many who haven't ever even finished one game. In no particular order, here are some suggestions to (potentially) help you finish. These are things from my experience, not necessarily things that everyone has done.

1. Make sure you like the game.
This might seem obvious, but I actually have started projects where I haven't liked the idea. Needless to say this didn't turn out to well. If you think your game is fun, it's likely that at least some people will also think so. If you don't think your game is fun... you're screwed.

2. Make deadlines and organize how you will spend your time.
By deadlines, I mean a schedule. Say "I will have the grass level done by Wednesday, and the fire boss done by Thursday..." The tough part about this is putting some actual importance in these deadlines. If you miss a deadline at your job or at school, there are actual consequences. If you miss a deadline made by yourself, nothing really happens. So essentially this is just a way to help you be organized.

3. Be disciplined- force yourself to get things done.
I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with me on this. But I think putting yourself in front of a computer and just getting something done is always important, no matter how you are feeling. You have to have a steady working habit; force yourself to get in there, open up the programs you use, and just do something. That being said, if it's crap, trash it. A day you spend doing absolutely nothing is worse than a day where all of your work goes to waste.

4. Get a demo out there- build up hype.
Something that gets me through the early stages of development is knowing that I will be posting a WIP of my project. I live for feedback- positive or negative. Picture, in your mind, people commenting on a topic about your game. We all love attention. A game is, among many other things, a way to get attention. Make sure that your game is actually fun before you put a demo out there!

5. Do tons of planning before you start your game (why isn't this number 1? I don't get it)
For one of my games I have like 5 pages worth of a Word document- and it's all plans about all of the levels in one game. Sometimes I like to draw pictures, sometimes I jot down everything I think on a piece of paper. But anyway planning is of the utmost importance. It's all about organization, and having a rhythm- once you finish one thing, you have to know what you're going to do next, and so on. Plan things out before you start making things.

6. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself excited about making the game.
When I'm not feeling so hot about the game I'm making, I'll spend a day just playing the game. If it's a game worth finishing, it's a game that I'll have fun playing. Spending time playing your game is so important, I can't even explain it. First of all, you have to make sure you are the one who's finding bugs, and not the players. It will also give you an insight on what is and what isn't working for the game. Sometimes I'll even start a different project. After 10 minutes working on said new project, I'll realize that I have something good in the first place, and go back to the other project, with my lesson learned.

Well, thanks for reading.

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