Game Dev 101: Adding Polish to Games

By June 29, 2018Game Dev Tips
Adding Polish to Games

What does it mean to polish a game?

To polish a game is to add those final touches or improvements to ensure your game is as aesthetically pleasing and error-free as possible. Although considered to be the last step in the game development process, it’s one of the most important.

Adding polish is the secret to making better games. A game that hasn’t been polished yet is a game that’s not complete. When you polish a game, you’re aiming for perfection. The goal is to add consistency all through your game. However, this isn’t just about appearances. The game’s graphics, theme, UI and controls, and core gameplay mechanics must all be cohesive. A polished game is also free from any errors and bugs.

But don’t worry. Adding polish to games isn’t as complicated as it sounds. I’ll walk you through the whole process and share a few essential tips to help you to make your games polished like a Pro.

Adding Polish to Games Tips & Tricks

Tip #1 – Only Do What You Can

First off, before you begin developing your game take some time to think about your game’s design and what needs to be done. Then consider which tasks are within or beyond your current skill level. For example, if you have an eye for graphic design but lack coding skills, then try to use a codeless software like Buildbox and focus on making a game that has simple mechanics but stunning graphics. You can also hire a programmer or coder from outsourcing websites like Fiverr or Upwork to help you in that area.

If you’re great at coding but not skilled at making game art, then strive to make a game that has cool gameplay mechanics and a minimalist art style. You don’t have to do everything. If you can’t make game art, you can buy it or pay an outsourcer to create graphics for you. Planning ahead and playing to your strengths, in the beginning, will make polishing your game later on a lot easier.

Tip # 2 – Play it Twice

Adding polish to games is much like editing. You have to sit down and play your game all the way through and look for any bugs or areas that can be improved. A great tip to follow when you begin this process is to play your game at least twice before you start making any changes. The goal is to be as open and transparent as you can while you’re reviewing your game. The first time you play, try to think as a player would. Focus on the ‘fun factor’ and overall flow of the game. Am I having fun? Is it too slow or too fast? Too easy or too hard?

Think about what’s missing in your game. Write it all down on a notepad or note taking application. Then step away from the game. Take a break, play some other similar games and then play your game for the second time. Look for anything that stands out to you. It could be something small like a button that’s not quite the right size or a whole level or scene that’s off. While you’re playing try to continually ask yourself, “How can I make this better?”

via GIPHY

Tip #3 – Music & Sound Effects Matter

When you’re adding polish to games, don’t forget about the power of background music and sound effects. Just a simple music loop or a defeated character sound effect can drastically enhance a player’s experience. Music sets the tone and transports players into your game’s universe. So, try to add music that matches your gameplay and theme well. Is your game going to be action-packed, completely retro, a nightmarish journey or a heart-pumping race to the finish line? Your game music should give players an idea of what’s to come and get them excited about it.  

Adding sound effects is another way to polish your game. They can make your game immersive. It’s incredible how a blast sound for an explosion or bang from a collision can completely change your game’s feel. However, if you want to engage players, you have to find just the right amount and type of sound effects to use. This is why polishing is the last stage of development. You have to examine and decide if you need more or less sound to better your game. Adding polish is all about cohesiveness and finding that balance in both your gameplay and overall design. You may have to remove some sounds instead of adding extra. An excellent tip to follow is to use other popular games similar to yours as a reference guide.

via GIPHY

Remember, most polished games have great music and sound effects. So, be sure to add both of these elements to your game too.

Tip #4 – Use the Right Color Combinations

Having the wrong color combinations or scheme in your game can turn players off. Every polished game should have great color combinations that mesh well with its overall theme and art style. If you’re trying to polish your game and you’re not quite sure on whether or not you have the right color combinations, there are plenty of online tools that can help you. Coolors and Colordot are two great color tools. We have an excellent list of the top color palette generators and color scheme tools to use right here.

Staying on top trends can also help you with choosing the best color palettes. Currently, games with muted colors are performing well on the charts. You can implement those type of colors or conduct your own research on the specific game type that you’re creating and see what’s working for others developers. Just try to make sure that the colors that you use in your game work well together. Using the right color scheme and combinations will make your game look polished and unique.

Tip #5 – Be Simple on Purpose

A useful technique to help you add polish to your games is to get super creative during the design and development process. Then during the final stages when you’re adding polish dial everything back. This method is discussed in detail in our free game development course, ‘Make Your Own Game.’ Instructor Heath Close shares some in-depth tips on this in the bonus video from the series below:

Polishing Your Game

He discusses how to make a game sleek by making it ‘simple on purpose’ and breaks down the process he used when trying to add polish to the game Glitch.

To polish a game is to make it pleasing to the eye, so leveling buttons and properly sizing objects to add symmetry is necessary as well. Another great video that you can check out is RisingHigh Academy’s How to Polish Your Game Tutorial. RisingHigh Academy also has full game development courses and training on their website to help you create polished games.

Tip #6 – Test, Test, Test!

When you’re trying to create a polished game, it’s essential that you test. Testing allows you to catch any bugs or potential issues before you launch. And it also provides you with a better perspective on how your game looks and feels to players. Since a polished game is a bug-free game, having others test your game is vital. They can spot something that you as the creator of the game might miss. It’s also an excellent method to gain valuable feedback on your game in general. There are several ways you can conduct testing. You can have family or friends test your game, but the most effective way is to use beta testers. Beta testers can give you a deeper understanding of your game.

To find beta testers, you can use beta tester sites like Ubertesters and Usertesting. You can also post on various forums and gaming communities to find testers as well. Strive to get as much feedback as you can before you make all the necessary changes to your game.

When you’re adding polish to games, following these six essential tips will lead you in the right direction. Always take the time out for this final step in your game development process. Not only is it important but it’s mandatory if you want to be successful in the app business. Remember to make a great game; you have to add polish.

Also, if you’d like to learn how to make a game from start to finish, definitely check out our ‘Make Your Own Game’ course.

Tiana Crump

About Tiana Crump

Tiana Crump is the social media manager and staff writer for Buildbox. She's an avid game enthusiast with 5 years professional writing experience primarily focused in online, social and mobile gaming.

One Comment

Leave a Reply