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We recently finished our first VR experience called DunDun VR and published it on Steam. Here are some tips that I think really helped us bring our project to completion and hopefully these tips can help you out if you are struggling to finish your game.
A little background for context: We’re a three-man team consisting of me (art), my brother (code), and our close friend (SFX and music). We decided quite early on to go for a casual and weird type of experience, give it away for free and try to finish it within a year or so. We were also learning game dev while developing our VR experience.
Tips for getting it done (in no particular order of importance):
- Know your strengths. The fact that we could all focus on our respective areas of expertise helped a ton, no doubt about it. This is also about keeping it simple. For example, if character animation is not what you are best at (I certainly am not), then keep that to a minimum. Perhaps consider no characters at all if possible, or pay someone to help you out.
- Consider finding a community if you are going at it solo. Mad respect to those of you that do it alone, but knowing myself I would not have gotten far alone. It helped a lot to know that two other persons were dedicating their time and effort to make our project the best they could. I recommend trying to find a community of other devs if you are by yourself, or perhaps a mentor or friend that can give you honest feedback and keep you accountable. Weekly meetings are probably a good idea.
- Set a deadline. At first, we had a vague idea, but as we started to break down the project we soon decided on a specific date (and time). In the end, the date got pushed by one month, though that was decided on before we openly communicated our release date. If we had not set a specific date, I’m sure the game would still not be published.
- Set clear goals. Our project was about learning the tools, learning game dev in general, discovering ways of working together, learning about marketing, and it was also about experimentation. We decided to release Dundun VR on Steam to familiarise ourselves with that process as well as the Steam-specific features. The most important goal was to release it during 2021 and make sure it was stable and that we were proud of the result.
- Do something (almost) every day. If it’s only ten minutes, do something — anything — that will get you that tiny bit closer to completion. I personally took Saturdays off.
- Accept that this is the best you can do, at this moment in time within the timeframe you have decided upon. Try to keep your expectations reasonable.
- Cut! We downscoped several times, both on the macro and micro levels. Somehow we thought it feasible to make fourteen scenes when we started off. We ended up with five. We also simplified a lot of the 3D models and used some free assets as well as plugins, just to give some examples.
- You are not your project. If your project fails, then you have not failed as a person.
- Try to keep a healthy lifestyle. I take daily walks and do some light exercises. My back is still messed up though. A nice chair is important, and try to get up once in a while to stretch.
- Don’t start over! There were several times I wanted to do just that. Luckily my brother thought otherwise and after a good night’s rest, I also realized why that would not be a great idea.
- Use some kind of service to track progress and what’s left to do in the project. We used Jira as my brother has a lot of experience with it, but Trello is also a good option.
- Focus! This one is tough. It might help to keep your cell phone in another room when working. Other tips: Get something done early in the day, commit to sharing your work weekly on #screenshotsaturday, break every task down into tasks that you can get done in at most two days, and try to prioritize your tasks (if it’s a good idea but not super important, send it to your “Nice to have” board).
- Don’t think too much about what’s left to do. Seriously, planning is essential, but if I had known exactly what I was getting myself into, I might not have even started. Take small steps.
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