Industry Secrets to Ensure You Finish Your Gamedev Projects! [2019]

If you build games you know how hard it can
be to complete and ship them. Starting gamedev is relatively easy given
today’s user friendly engine tech, and we all have grand ambitions to build full-featured
experiences that will be critically and commercially successful. But somewhere along the road, the unfortunate
reality is that most game development projects stall and lose momentum. It’s a statement about how much work needs
to go into finishing a game. We almost always underestimate the effort
involved. That said, there are some effective steps
one can take to minimize the risk of not completing your game. We are Ask gamedev and these are 8 secrets
to ensure you finish your video game. Welcome back! We make videos on how to elevate your game
development and inspire others. If after watching this video you want to continue
the game dev conversation, check the video description for a link to our discord server. In this video we will address one of the most
commonly requested topics from the Ask Gamedev community – how to finish your video game! We will outline a number of steps you can
take to maintain development momentum but please note that none of these considerations
are hard rules – there have been lots of successful development cycles that have either observed
or ignored these suggestions. Nothing here is prescriptive – just keep in
mind that considering each may help you get closer to releasing as planned. First thing’s first – the single most important
thing you can do to improve your chances of shipping your game is to have a solid development
plan. There is a lot that goes into a professional
project plan, but the core of the process is to list your specific development areas
and assign task descriptions and time estimates to the work involved. This process includes thinking about how you
will specifically complete each feature – including breaking up development into a number of small
tasks and defining the order in which they will be completed. Having a plan is helpful, because otherwise
the developer is flying blind towards and uncertain goal. Not knowing how much work will be needed to
complete their project is where most failed dev cycles find trouble, as momentum starts
to stall when the reality of the workload to completion starts to expose itself. So have a plan! The rigor of defining the work will make you
aware of what you are committing to – and help you decide if you have the determination
to see it through to completion. If you want to learn more about how to create
a development plan, use this link to check out the recent video we did on this topic
– in that video we go into detail on the different planning steps. So now you have a project plan where you have
defined the work ahead of you. The next step is to define the “cut line”,
or the features you will not support and where you will stop development. We all want to have the broadest feature set
we can think of.. but that is often not practical from a time perspective. The important thing is to make sure you spend
your valuable time on those features that really drive player satisfaction. We’ve talked about this principle in prior
videos – make sure you define “what matters most” for your game.. and commit to just
that. How do you define what matters most? Well, if you could reasonably ship a great
game that delivers on your core gameplay without that one feature in question.. then it probably
isn’t part of what matters most. Game dev history is littered with projects
that have tried to add unnecessary mini games, multiplayer features, or side quests to what
was a perfectly satisfying single player experience. Most often these additional features didn’t
enhance gameplay, and only slowed down development progress. So be strict about what really matters in
your game. Commit only to what matters most and you will
save yourself the headache of scope creep. The next thing to consider is what features
you will target first with your development. luckily, the best choice from a planning perspective
is also the choice that will provide the best momentum. That choice is the one feature that will provide
the most fun for your user. Too often, developers start working on mechanics
that are deemed ‘necessary’ – but don’t truly delight the user. It’s in our experience that most successful
games came out of a development cycle that started with a small but fun core game loop. It’s also our experience that those games
that don’t start from the fun have a high chance of failure – tacking on mechanic after
mechanic without addressing the core question of why someone would actually want to play
their game. If it's not fun, it probably not going to
resonate. The extra benefit of starting from the fun? If you have something enjoyable, the feedback
you will receive during demos will inevitably be encouraging. It’s that encouraging response that can
make all the difference to a developer who needs help sustaining momentum. Having a game that doesn’t excite will garner
less than enthusiastic feedback – and can make developers question whether they should
forge on with what could be a long road of work ahead. The next thing you can do to keep project
momentum is to make sure you have interim progress milestones throughout development. Milestones are a fixture in professional software
development, but many indie devs work without a solid milestone structure. So why are they important? Interim Milestones break up your work and
provide a checkpoint to see if you are meeting your goals as planned. If you are not hitting your milestones, it
may be that your time estimates for your tasks were too aggressive, or that you missed tasks
in your feature planning that were necessary to meet your goals. Either way, missed milestones are an early
indicator of a project that could be going off the rails. These indicators allow the developer to revisit
their plan, and ideally make the necessary changes to ensure development progresses through
to ship. Additionally, there is a sense of accomplishment
from hitting milestones – And that achievement can provide the necessary
momentum to finish your game. A common area where developers can lose momentum
is when they have completed their core feature work and now have to bug fix and prepare the
build for platform certification. This is typically not a trivial process. The amount of bugs in a game can be significant,
and platform requirements can be numerous – especially if you plan to release on console
or on multiple platforms. What is extra challenging about this process
is that it typically isn’t the most enjoyable part of development. Certification can require lots of research
through platform documentation, and bug fixing can necessitate deep exploration within your
code. These tasks can be a stark contrast to building
the exciting gameplay mechanics that defined your early development. So dev speed and visible progress can often
slow down during this final phase of development. How can you ensure you keep moving? Have a solid plan. Similar to your original project plan, estimate
out the tasks involved in bug fixing and certification and give yourself a clear picture of the work
involved. Have a good idea of what bugs you plan to
address, and which ones you can live with. Additionally – Knowing what certification
requirements you need to address is helpful to know up front, so that you can see the
path to the finish line. Professional teams can spend up to one third
of their full development time finaling the game – so give yourself the necessary time
to complete this important phase. Another way to reduce your chances of not
competing your development is to work with others. While many indie devs like the design control
that comes with solo development, the reality is that it can be very challenging to complete
a game all by one’s self. Gamedev requires expertise in a lot of different
areas – and most devs can’t supply all that knowledge by themselves. Taking on partners in your development can
help in two ways. Firstly, the workload gets spread across multiple
people and thus doesn’t have as much chance of overwhelming one individual. Secondly, the process of adding additional
dev members can instill a feeling of obligation amongst team members – a general sense that
no one can give up given that others are committed to seeing development through. But maybe you don’t want to take our advice
on this point. Please note that solo dev has been done successfully
in the past, and sometimes with great success. Check out this video on solo gamedev mistakes
if you want to learn more about things to avoid when you are working on your own. In a similar vein to bringing on additional
team members, sometimes going public about your gamedev intentions and progress can aid
in building momentum. It’s basic human nature to want to meet
expectations. By communicating to friends, family, and colleagues
that you are committing to a gamesev journey – you are providing yourself some strong motivation
to not quit in the face of challenges. No one wants to tell others that you didn’t
finish what you started, or that you failed to reach your goals. You can amplify the effect of this tactic
by using social media to communicate your development plans. Telling the world about your game, when you
plan to release it, and what features can be expected takes bravery – and makes any
future decision to quit all the harder. Now before we give you our last secret on
how to ensure you finish your game dev project, let’s take a look at the Ask Gamedev community
member game of the week. This week’s game is Virus Simulator from
Ask Gamedev Discord Server member, Darkhog. Virus Simulator is a hyper old-school 3d platformer
where you play as a computer virus. The game is built in Unity, and Darkhog has
been working on the title since 2014 during spare time. You can support the title right now on Patreon. So here it is, our last tip to help make sure
you finish your game. This one comes from lots of community member
feedback, and involves picking the right tool for the right development job. We’re talking engines here, and the best
practice is to pick an engine that you are familiar with if you want to ensure getting
to the finish line. Far too often we hear of indie developers
that adopt a new engine choice for their dev – only to discover that the new engine does
things differently than what is familiar, or has a confusing interface, or requires
additional software. Engines can vary wildly in their offerings
– and some aren’t as intuitive as others. So pick engines wisely! Gamedev is hard enough when you don’t have
to learn a whole new framework. If you want to reduce your chances of development
frustration leading to quitting – pick an engine that you feel comfortable with. Bonus points if you have shipped a game on
that engine before! For more Ask Gamedev and tips that can help
with keeping momentum with your game development, check out this video on how to project plan,
or this inspiring video series on great games made by solo developers.

7 Replies to “Industry Secrets to Ensure You Finish Your Gamedev Projects! [2019]

  1. As always, amazing video. But I have a question for you as solo game developer. How inportant marketing is for a game and how to start marketing? I am struggeling to push myself to marketing of my game, and I wanted to know what do you think. Thank you for any response

  2. Nice but for your next video, please do: "Secrets to ensure you start your Video Game development!"

    Instead of installing new versions of Unity forever and ever.

  3. Thanks for watching! For more Ask Gamedev on this topic, check out this video on How to Plan Your Game Development Project

    Or check out this video on the 6 roles that you need to build a great indie dev team:

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