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Tips and tricks of being a Double Developer
by Ryan Vandendyck on 11/15/11 03:55:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Hey everyone, I'm back again with some more insight into the life of a Double Developer!

First off, sorry that there was no post last week. I've been swamped with setting up my Kickstarter project for Waveform and trying to get the word out. With that subtle segue, let me say that I would be eternally appreciative of any support you can give to the project and if you can pass it along to some friends as well I would be in your debt!

Ok, on to the meat and potatoes of this post: since the last bunch of posts dealt with a specific topic, I thought I'd use this post to point out some miscellaneous tips and tricks that don't that make life a bit easier as a Double Developer.

1. Utilize down-time as design time

I've alluded to this point before, but it really is critical. As you may remember if you've read my earlier posts, the hours I work are pretty exhausting. As a result, squeezing every bit of potential from my time is really important. I mentioned before that I often use my time biking to and from work to think of solutions to design problems I'm having, or even conceptually plan out game systems I intend to build.

But aside from biking, there are of course lots of other times you can take advantage of:

  • Doing dishes. Necessary (unless you only eat take-out ramen), but mindless; great to let your mind wander to design!
  • Waiting in line. Although the temptation is high to whip out your phone for some quick gaming, resist! This time is ripe for some good thinking; bonus points if you carry a notebook and pen with you!
  • Drifting off to sleep. More often than not this makes me have some pretty bizarre dreams, but every once in a while there's a great eureka moment! This is especially true with level design ideas actually; the notebook I keep beside my bed is full of interesting ideas for bits of a level.
2. Take advantage of skilled co-workers

Although I wouldn't recommend using work-time to talk to your co-workers about your personal development, most people won't refuse an offer of a free beer after work so you can pick their brain! If you're a superstar in all areas of development, congratulations! You have no need of other people's insight! But for the rest of us (myself definitely included), drawing upon the experience of skilled co-workers is a great way to avoid many hours banging your head against tough problems.

3. Start small!

In my opinion, there's no such thing as too small. I designed Waveform to be a small and simple game. Oh, how naive I was. Over two years later and I'm still working on it. Until you make a game from start to finish, you just have no idea about all of the little things that crop up. 

4. Create your own robotic QA department

Actually unless your skill in robotics is superb, you'll probably be better off pressing into service old computers you have lying around. Assuming you have a test harness for your game that can play the game on its own without user input (and really, this is a necessity for solid QA), you can run them all while you're at work to help track down mysterious crashes that you can then fix when you get home. It's kind of like having a clone that can work for you while you're away!

Well that's just a quick list of some handy tips for Double Developers. I'm sure others have more and I'd love to hear them so be sure to leave a comment and let's get the discussion going!

Also I'd be remiss (although a less annoying person) if I didn't mention again my Kickstarter project going on ( It's not easy being a Double Developer; I can use all the help and support I can get!

Ok thanks for reading this entry everyone, I hope you enjoy! 

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Will Buck
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Good tips, I'm a firm believer in #1 and it really is very useful. Even keeping a note-taking tool next to you while *playing* games you enjoy is useful for helping jot quick ideas. "This game is awesome BUT what if it had...."

Ryan Vandendyck
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Good point Will! Sometimes it's a hard habit to get into when you just want to relax with a game, but it really is an invaluable practice as a designer.

If only I could figure out a way to jot ideas down while biking :)

Robert Hewson
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Definitely a believer in 1 and 3. I've also found in the past that starting and sticking to 1 idea long enough to get it out of the conceptual phase is the hardest part - takes discipline. Waveform looks great BTW, lovely elegant concept, I'll check down the back of the sofa for a shiny gold English pound for you :)

Ryan Vandendyck
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I'm glad you like Waveform Robert! You are definitely right that it's hard to get out of the conceptual phase. Unfortunately, after it's out of that phase the more difficult and time-consuming work begins to actually finish the game. I suppose it's hard pretty much the whole way through, just in different ways :)