4. What does it take to make a game?
• an idea - a game concept
• a plan - a game design
• art assets - artist(s)
• programming - programmer(s)
• music & sfx - audio specialist
• project management - producer
5. What makes a good game?
• something you can’t do in real life
• something where you can make a difference
• something that is easy to learn but difficult to master
• If you can’t sell it with 5 screenshots and some text, don’t make it!
6. What goes into a game concept document?
• enough description of the game to explain the concept to others
• might be useful in attracting team members or seeking outside funding
• relatively short document
7. What goes into a game design document?
• lots more detail
• often contains storyboard illustrations or screen mock ups
• contains a list of the characters and levels or challenges to be solved
• often attached to your contract as it contains the best description of the game
• used to bring new arrivals up-to-speed.
• can be a dynamic document - storyboard illustrations can be replaced with
• some 2nd party titles or low budget games may skip this step.
8. What goes into a game proposal?
• everything that went into the other documents, plus cost and completion
• typically paid on milestones - include a list of deliverables and payments
• don’t forget other needed assets
• add additional time at the beginning to cover up for a late start
• Christmas still comes at the same time regardless of when you start.
• Add a penalty for late payments.
9. Why are most games late?
• an unrealistic deadline in the first place
• many assume that they won’t have any problems
• we need it by this date
• Alan Wake
• Duke Nukem Forever
• Why does it take several years to make a sequel?
• Add a bonus for on-time completion.
10. Building a team
• How do you pick the right people?
• What skill sets will you need?
• How well can they work both together and independently?
• Can they meet reasonable deadlines?
• How will they be compensated?
• What happens if they leave before it’s finished?
11. How to manage a game project
• What does a good producer do?
• makes sure his team has all the resource it needs
• manages his bosses expectations
• Avoid unnecessary crunch time - avoid burnout.
• Try to get your work done during normal hours.
• There’s no free lunch, but there’s a free dinner!
12. Keep a progress file
• Every participant should keep a progress file.
• Programmers can add a text file to the project. Write notes in the file while
waiting for the code to compile.
• Write down all the things you know you need to do
• Each day write the date in the Completed section and list all the things you
did, or even tried to do.
• Backup the project often
• If you have to revert to a previous backup, go back and see what things you
need to do to get back to where you were.
13. Some legal issues to consider
• work-for-hire - of course that usually means they get paid
• don’t get your “indie” project unnecessarily intertwined with your “day job”
• protecting your IP - trademark, copyright, patent
• trade secret - use NDA
14. What happens when you get behind?
• manage feature requests — new features take time, plus testing time.
• review outstanding features — is there anything that you don’t really need?
• perform triage
• be careful adding more people to the project
• read The Mythical Month
• take away any unnecessary duties that don’t have anything to do with
finishing the game.
15. Reaching the finish line
• How long is a marathon?
• 26 miles, 385 yards
• The first 90% of the project takes 90% of your time.
• The last 10% takes another 90% of your time.
16. Start play testing early
• Starting early lets the play testers get familiar with your game.
• Don’t take it personal when they gloat after finding a “bug”.
• Remember they are professional game players.
• Whenever you make a last minute change, you have to allow time to test all
the things it could possibly affect.
17. It’s time!
• One day, it’s just time to release
• Start preparing the submission forms.
• Avoid negative forces that try to keep your game from shipping.
• Send the game off.
• Treat play testing like a tennis volley.
• Every time they find a bug, fix it even faster.
• Eventually they will give up.
• Know the approval process, including what they look for.
• Make sure you are comfortable with the build when it’s time to submit.
• Get a reputation for quality work.
• Finish documenting and backup everything.
• Make sure you can take the backup copy to another computer that never had
the game on it, and build the game from scratch.
• Make sure your team gets some recognition, reward, and rest.
20. Working with PR and Marketing
• Help grab screenshots for marketing purposes.
• Help record a gameplay video for marketing purposes.
• Proofread marketing documents for possible “bogus” features.
• Be available for interviews, assist with social media.