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15 Nov 2013

Tips to Ensure You Actually Finish Your First Game

Think back to the first time you developed your first game: how did you go? Were there times in which you wanted to give up? Did you find yourself beating your head against the wall (hopefully not literally) and telling yourself, “this game sucks; I want to scrap it and move on.”? This is completely normal, and whether you have never finished a game, have only released a few games, or have even released dozens of games, the process never gets easier. Every time, you are going to find yourself thinking, “this game is going to suck, I shouldn’t be developing it any further,” and while this is normal, there are many developers that actually do scrap their game and move on.

Thus, this Friday post is for the developers that are developing their freshman game and finding themselves doubtful as to whether or not they should continue striving forward or opt to scrap it completely. Moreover, it is also for those that are finding themselves doubting the development process of their current game (no matter how many games you have under your belt). No matter your current situation in terms of the development process of your game, may today’s post contain tips that will help you to keep ‘fighting the good fight,’ so your game can be released for the masses to enjoy.


Knock off the editing

Are you finding yourself going back and editing your game? Then stop it! Know that when you are developing your game initially, you are only creating a rough draft of the game. The goal of a first draft is to incorporate all of your great ideas into the game in the first round, and from there finding out what works, what doesn’t, what can be fine-tuned, and what is perfect as is.

There’s a reason authors force themselves to continue writing their first draft without going back and editing their draft. It’s because by doing this, they can keep the pace of writing instead of bogging down the entire project with edits. This kills momentum, productivity, and can actually kill some great ideas that would have blossomed otherwise.

Thus, never edit during your first draft. That’s what revisions are for, so if you know you can revise later in the development process, why would you edit during the actual first draft? Create, don’t edit!


Give yourself a deadline

The best way to ensure you actually do finish the first draft of your game is to provide yourself with a deadline. No, that doesn’t mean you should go to the store, buy a pallet of Red Bull, and work on your game 23 hours a day so you can finish it within three days. Instead, give yourself a reasonable deadline, and break your deadline up into mini deadlines. For instance, if you want to have a rough draft of your game finished within a month, create a timeline that details what needs to be finished week-to-week for you to finish that deadline. From there, you can detail what needs to be finished day-to-day, giving yourself a much more flexible deadline.

When you know the timeframe for completing your game, it’s amazing how much more productive you will be.


Think big (but not too big)

This is certainly true if you are just starting out in developing your first game. You may want to develop a game with a world that is bigger than Skyrim, a game with more cutscenes than Mass Effect 3, and a game with more sun flairs than a J.J. Abram’s film, but what if you’re just one guy? I hate to tell you, but it probably isn’t going to happen. Therefore, think smaller (in this case, much smaller) for your first game, as you need to be able to understand the development process from a hands-on perspective before you tackle a big project like that.

Will you be able to tackle a huge project like that eventually on your own? Absolutely! Heck,

Tyler Owen is developing Lucuna Passage – a game that takes place on Mars, and he’s using actual data collected from NASA to create the landscape of Mars! Come on; how amazing is that?! Yet, do you know why he is confident with developing a game that epic? It’s because he has experience developing games.

The point is this: yes, the sky certainly is the limit for games you can create on your own nowadays (and Tyler Owen is a great example of this), yet when it comes to developing your first game (or even your first few games)? Take baby steps before you tackle that first big epic.


Create a habit of working on your game every day

It doesn’t matter how much work you do per day either, what matters is you actually work on your game. Do it daily, and trust me: you will be surprised how much work you get accomplished. Plus, at the end of every day, you actually feel as if the day was productive. I can vouch for this as well, as I have been challenging myself to write creatively every day throughout the month of November, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to see the progress I have made in my writings. And the days I don’t write? I actually feel bad and feel as if the day isn’t yet complete.

This feeling is invaluable. You want to feel a combination of not only feeling as if it is mandatory that you work on your game, but that you want to work on your game. It’s a great drive to have, and once you start seeing the progress you are making by working on your game daily, you are going to get that drive too.

And the best part? You’re going to finish your first game!

I’ll hand it over to you guys now. Seasoned developers and even those that have actually finished their first game, what tips do you have to ensure you are able to finish your first game? In addition, what tips do you have that ensure you are able to remain productive so you can ultimately finish your game? Let us know in the comments below!

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