Creating a video game that consists of a large system of rules can be overwhelming and might slow you down in production. With the mindset of being a designer, these steps will help you become efficient and productive in making your next or even first project.
1. Write/Draw Everything Down (Pre-Production)
Before you even turn the computer on, write and draw every idea you have down on a piece of paper. Having all your ideas out in front of you will help see what sticks and what doesn’t (A friendly reminder, never throw out your rough ideas). As a designer, in any field really, you should have all your ideas, themes, goals written down to help plan ahead on your project. This will help you with documentation and planning further down the production cycle. Later on when you are working on the prototype, the documentation will help you as a reference of where you need to steer the project towards. In the documentation, you should also be writing out what exactly happens in the game, almost writing out full sentences of what will later become code. Doing this practice will help visualize what exactly needs programming since there will probably be a lot of it.
2. Set Goals (Management)
You have all your ideas and goals written down, great! Now planning must be involved in order to pace yourself throughout the development. If this is your first game ever, give yourself a month for this project just for you to get used to the workings of development. In order to stay on top of your project, email or write to yourself the goals you accomplished in the past week and goals you intend to accomplish this coming week. Doing this little reminder will help you know where you are in your projects. Setting goals is a healthy habit to get into as each task you take on might take longer than expected and push your development longer.
3. Start Small (Prototypes)
After all the planning and designs you drew up, it’s finally time to create your video game. Your first goal is to make a Minimum Viable Product, a prototype, which is the absolute bare minimum of your game. A prototype should be the essential mechanics that will become the foundation of your game. An example of the essentials would be collisions and controls with the character you control, that’s practically it. You want to understand the feel of your character in a basic environment (no textures or shading) that the player will interact with. It’s advised not to be creating your prototype for too long but getting feedback to fix aspects are. After creating a solid base for your game, go on and finish that game!
4. What Game IDE to Work in? (Development)
What software (IDE or Integrated Development Environment) should you use? Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Whichever is the cheapest. It does not matter at all which software you use as long as you get working and understand your environment. Each software has their own limitations and excel in certain fields. Ideally, you want to be proficient in multiple IDEs in order work anywhere. However, you just need to dive right in, that’s the most important.
5. Fail Faster (QA)
No idea is perfect but execution is key to make an immersive experience. Have people play test your games in order to learn more from your work. See how people play it as opposed to what you intended out of them. Always flesh out your ideas and get them out there as quickly as possible to see what sticks. Keep on failing and learning from your efforts. This will only make your a better designer. So fail faster.