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Going Games: From Web Development To Game Studio In One Project


February 2, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

So, Was It Worth It?

Absolutely! On a personal level, it was a very rewarding experience. Producing something that was ours meant our own vision and our own rules. We also learnt a lot in the process, for Kyle as a new developer at the time, it was an excellent coding exercise, and for me it was a good lesson in planning, game design, and time management.

Of course, on paper it looks like a financial disaster, but that isn't the point. If you ignore the cost of our own time (our downtime otherwise spent twiddling our thumbs and eating biscuits) the money we made from sponsorships just about covers the money we had to spend on getting the assets produced.

Besides that, the whole reason for developing the game in the first place was as a means to show off what we were capable of and inspire the kind of client work we wanted to do. From that point of view, it has done us nothing but good. It has been an excellent portfolio piece and has been a contributing factor in winning us lots more game development work.

While it is hard to say if it has been directly responsible or just partly, it has led on to a variety of things such as being invited to join the BBC's @North scheme, and talks with some major game development companies about potential future projects.

We currently have six separate game projects either in development or booked in to start in the coming months, so in that respect alone I can honestly say it was worth the time and expense it took to get it built. My main regret is that we didn't start and complete it sooner.

Some Lessons Learned / Confirmed

  • You get hired based on the quality of work you have done in the past, not on the quality of the work you "know" you can do. If you want to get game development work, make a game!
  • Planning is your friend, but don't let planning get in the way of prototyping an idea. The quickest way to get a game started is to just start building it, but the best way to finish is to have decided (and written down) what it is you are actually building.
  • Do user testing! With anyone! Use a service like First Impressions or get a random person off the street. Sit them in front of the game and watch them, don't tell them what to do, just ask for their thoughts. Getting feedback how other people interact with your creation can be a revelation sometimes.
  • Don't expect to get it right first time and don't be afraid to iterate. Prototype, Plan, Build, Test, Amend, Repeat as necessary. Making a game is about trying to teach the player to do something, then testing them and pushing them to get better at it. You need to check that the process is working properly.
  • If you're making your own game, make sure you get your priorities clear from the start. This can be hard if you haven't planned what you are building though. In our case we knew why we were making the game, but lost sight of that slightly during development while we experimented with various things (Mochi ads, Facebook, Flash Game License, etc).
  • Build your game around a story. It's my personal feeling that a game needs to have a story behind it. That story doesn't necessarily need to be revealed to the player, but it does help you as a developer to dictate what is and is not within scope.
  • Write down all your random ideas. Since working on Beasties I have learned the importance of writing down random game ideas. Whenever I have one (usually while walking to work) I add it to a list I keep.

    Earlier this year we pitched one of those ideas to a client, they loved it, and we begin development on a project for them in January. For our next Robot / Lizard project we also have a dedicated space on the wall for these random "post-it note" ideas, they may not get done anytime soon, but at least they won't be forgotten.
  • Work on projects you enjoy, with people you like. It really doesn't feel like work that way and you get a lot more personal satisfaction out of it.

The Future

2011 is looking pretty exciting for us as we continue down the path we started on.

Primarily we'll continue our work-for-hire Flash development as we have been fortunate enough to build some good relationships with larger entertainment companies over the past year.

We are also still setting aside time to work on our own projects. One of which is a Facebook game and the others are smaller personal projects, currently at various stages of development.

Building Beastie Burgers has helped to bring us some excellent clients, the game work that we wanted to do and the experience and confidence in ourselves to continue working on our own projects. With each new project we complete, we are honing our design skills, becoming better game developers, raising the bar in terms of our own game portfolio and with the upcoming additions to Flash Player (The Molehill API for 3D) we hope to ramp things up even further.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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