Do you have trouble finishing things?
In today’s Game Dev 101 crash course, you’ll learn the best strategies to help you stay on track during development and finish your game.
For many game developers, finishing their game is the hardest part of the development process. It’s easy when you’re new to making games to get distracted, overwhelmed or stuck, and end up abandoning your game project altogether.
However, there are seven essential tips that you can follow to make it easy to finish your game. These tactics will help you avoid the everyday distractions and pitfalls that indie devs fall prey to and focus on seeing your game through to the end.
So let’s get to it.
#1 – Make it Simple
There’s a lot that goes into making a game, which is why it’s critical that you keep things simple, especially in the beginning stages. Remember, you can always add new features and expand upon your game later. Your initial game concept should be realistic and achievable for your current skill level and resources. Don’t try to create a massively complex game before you’re ready. It will only lead to frustration. So, try to start out small and work your way up to making bigger more complex games as you progress.
Narrow down your ideas until you have one that you’re excited to create. Then follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short and Simple) technique to help you plan and map out the basics of your game. We discussed how to do this in detail in our previous post. The goal is to pick a game type that is doable for your skill set and then break down the tasks that you need to accomplish into smaller manageable steps.
GAME DEV 101 TIP: Don’t let new ideas make you abandon your current game project and start something new. Keep an idea journal/notebook handy and jot it down for later use.
We’ve all been there.
You suddenly get a better game idea, and you abandon your original concept and immediately start working on the new design. If you want to finish your game you have to avoid falling prey to this common game dev mistake. Be diligent and stick to your original concept. Never abandon your current project to start something new. Seeing it through to the end is important.
As a game dev, being able to prioritize and manage your goals is vital for success in development and any other project that you pursue. Try to steer clear of the ‘idea overload’ trap by creating an idea journal or notebook.
You can use a pocket-sized notebook or a note-taking app on your phone to record any brilliant ideas that come to you. Saving your thoughts will give you the freedom to revisit them later. It’ll also help clear your mind so you can focus on the task at hand, how to finish your game.
#2 – Start Building Your Fanbase Early
OK, I know what you’re thinking. How can marketing my game early help me to finish it?
Well, here’s the thing, when you’re making a game you have to develop with your launch or ‘end-goal’ in mind. If you start building a fan base around your game while you’re in the development phase, you’ll automatically increase the odds of not only seeing the project through to the end but also achieving success in the App Store. Marketing your game early will make you accountable to yourself and your new fanbase awaiting the release of your game.
GAME DEV 101 TIP: Get accountable. Start your game’s marketing early. Tell your friends, post on social media, and document your game development journey.
One of the best ways to start building a fan base around your game is to document your game development journey. You can do this by creating a dev blog or vlog about your project and sharing your progress as you go. Set up social media accounts on popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and post updates to create buzz. Commit to posting a new screenshot of your game every Saturday for #screenshotsaturday on social media or directly on your blog.
You can also post and share your progress with other developers on game development forums. It’s an excellent way to gain early feedback while promoting your project. However, don’t let any negative feedback that you may get discourage you. If you receive a negative response, consider it’s validity. Is this a real issue or someone just being rude online? If it is something that should be considered write it down in your notebook, to revisit during the polishing phase.
You can even create a feedback log to review as you get further along in your development. Try to learn from the feedback but don’t let it deter you from finishing your game. Everyone is a critic. Stay positive and keep on developing!
#3 – Prototype Often
To finish your game you have to concentrate on the things that matter like the core components of the gameplay. It’s important not to get hung up on the minor design details in the beginning. You’ll have plenty of time to add and tweak those elements during the polishing phase. Just focus on creating a fun, playable game. Get a working prototype ready as soon as possible. Make it a goal to always have a testable version of your game available at all times. Prototyping often will help keep you motivated. As you test and play around with the prototype, you’ll get a clearer vision of how to finish your game.
#4 – Enlist Help
Don’t try to do it all. When you encounter a task that is above your current skill level or time constraints, hire an outsourcer to help. There are tons of outsource sites that you can use such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. These outsourcing sites feature a wide variety of professional programmers, coders, and designers that can assist you with the development of your game. You can hire them by the hour or based on the completion of the project.
If you’re stuck on a particular part of your game and need advice, forums are a great resource. You can post questions and find answers to almost anything. Take the time to join and become an active member of game development forums like Tigsource, IndieDB, GameDev, Buildbox forum, and reddit. Don’t be afraid to seek help or advice when you need it.
GAME DEV 101 TIP: Seek help and advice when you need it. You don’t have to do everything yourself, hire a freelancer from an outsourcing site like Upwork or Fiverr.
#5 – Create a ‘Polish Checklist’
Checklists can be powerful tools to help you finish your game without distractions. A handy one to create is a ‘polish checklist.’ This list covers everything that you need to add to finish your game. These things are not mandatory for your game to be fun and playable, they are bonuses. Your game should already be playable. The ‘polish checklist’ features all the small minute details and finishing touches that will make your game complete such as additional sound effects, graphics, animations, effects, and improvements. Scheduling and staying on course is much easier when you have a list of exactly what you need to do.
For laser-like focus, mark specific tasks on your checklist as ‘bonus add-ons.’ These are things that you would like to add to your game that can wait until the final stages or can be skipped entirely if necessary to meet your launch deadline.
#6 – Be Consistent
Consistency and discipline are also crucial if you want to finish your game. Every game dev should work on a schedule and set deadlines each week. You have to set deadlines, reminders, and make yourself accountable. Set a goal to work on your game on a consistent basis. Whether you make your goal to work on it every day, a couple of times a week, or every month it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re consistent with it. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, make yourself work on your game.
Set a reminder on your phone. Schedule and block out time in your calendar and make it happen. To avoid burnout, also try to schedule your downtime or free days where you won’t be working on the game. Days off will help you to refresh and refuel your inspiration. If you skip or get off track, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on course and keep striving for consistency until it becomes a habit.
Also, try to announce your deadlines to your friends and family members. They can help keep you accountable. If you’re documenting your game development journey, post announcements that you’ll be working to have the levels complete or graphics added by a specific date. If you don’t follow through, there will be questions and comments. It’s a great motivator.
#7 – Don’t Give Up
When you’re new to making games, it can be tough. You’re going to eventually get to a point where you want to give up. Don’t give up! Fight the urge to quit. You got this! Remember why you started and find a way to push through. Keep yourself inspired by reading game development blogs and browsing through the forums. Play a lot of games and regularly check the top and trending apps in the charts.
Following these game dev tips can help lead you in the right direction, but it’s up to you to make it all happen. Be persistent and continually work on your game. Never give up, and you’ll surely find success.