Good Ideas, Bad Ideas in GameDev

This has been a year worthy of many experiences, in both game development and project management. I wanted to share my experiences (like I did in the past with The Search For More Money); however, I didn’t want to make a full rant this time and instead will be presenting them as atomic and readable tips.

Taking as inspiration that good old-time show, Animaniacs, I’ll be using the Good Idea / Bad Idea format to further show good and bad alternatives for each one. I also added a third type, Stupid Idea, because I’ve seen most of them firsthand.

Here’s a simple list of things to do and things to avoid if you’re involved in a game development project.

Good idea:
Have and practice good writing skills.
Bad idea:
Believe that you don’t need to have good orthography because you either studied Arts or Engineering, and not Literature.
Stupid idea:
“I luv gamez cuz their kweel.”


Good idea:
Think, research, ask. In that order.
Bad idea:
Ask, research. In that order.
Stupid idea:
Ask, ask, ask.


Good idea:
Think of games as a new and alternative way of expression with its own pros and cons.
Bad idea:
Think of games as the pinnacle of art.
Stupid idea:
Disregard games as a viable and valuable medium.


Good idea:
Clearly define your target as players or consumers.
Bad idea:
Treat your target as consumers. No, wait, as players. As consumers? D’oh.
Stupid idea:
Misuse ‘Free-to-Play’ games.


Good idea:
Judge games by their mechanics and aesthetics.
Bad idea:
Judge games by how much do you like them.
Stupid idea:
Misinterpret graphics for aesthetics and treat mechanics as secondary stuff.



Good idea
:
Be aware and responsible regarding the reach and impact that games have.
Bad idea:
Directly or indirectly promote irresponsible developments of games.
Stupid ideas:
“I play violent games and I’m not violent; therefore, games don’t make you violent.”
“There’s no gender inequality in games or the game industry.”
“Games are for entertainment. Keep your politics away from them.”


Good idea:
Create and maintain a game design document, taking into account the opinion of every area involved in the development.
Bad idea:
Change the GDD on the fly, without general consensus or proper planning.
Stupid idea:
“Game Design? What’s that? I just want to make games.”


playtesting_games

Good idea:
Make playtest a fundamental part of your project by constantly testing.
Bad idea:
Treat playtest as the last phase of development or use a small and biased sample.
Stupid idea:
Completely ignore playtest and assume players will see the game the same way as you see it.


Good idea:
Break the development process into several incremental phases.
Bad idea:
Treat the development process as one big single phase.
Stupid idea:
Don’t plan a thing and work without a schedule.


BottomUp

Good idea:
Use a bottom-up approach and begin working on the mechanics of the game.
Bad idea:
Use a top-down approach and begin with the aesthetics of the game.
Stupid idea:
Plan the story first, the game later.


Good idea:
When people say your game is hard, blame the game mechanics first.
Bad idea:
When people say your game is hard, blame the in-game objectives first.
Stupid idea:
When people say your game is hard, blame the players first.


Good idea:
Focus on creating solid games.
Bad idea:
Focus on creating games you think are fun.
Stupid idea:
Focus on perfection.


Good idea:
Use a version control system, like git, to maintain your code.
Bad idea:
Use Dropbox or any other folder-sync service and merge code manually.
Stupid idea:
“One folder to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”


Good idea:
Don’t reinvent the wheel if it’s not necessary and give proper credit when needed.
Bad idea:
Waste precious development time trying to figure out something that could be researched.
Stupid idea:
Steal code from others. You basterd.


Good idea:
Study advertisement opportunities and how your game could create good reputation. Invest: no pain, no gain.
Bad idea:
Expect huge quantities of users from a low monetary investment.
Stupid idea:
Expect that your game becomes a hit, because other games like Candy Crush and Flappy Bird were successful.


Bonus Round

Good idea:
Choose the best platform that fits your target and game mechanics.
Bad idea:
Release ports of your games everywhere just to cash in more money.
Stupid idea:
Make games for obsolete platforms that do more harm than good, like BlackBerry.


Good idea:
Do.
Bad idea:
Do not.
Stupid idea:
Try.


Do you have any other tips that you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below :)

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