Videogame project: What I learned up to now
This is my first reflection here about my experience of trying to complete an Indie videogame.
As I'm working on the first Antennaria's game, I found these points useful and I still need to learn about them:
Also called "to wear many hats". I'm an indie...so who's going to do my work? Making a videogame it's not easy, I need to learn programming, sound recording, illustration, design, I need to
Have plenty of time
I still have some frelance projects that I need to do to get some money while I'm working on the first game. But I need a LOT of time sitting in fron of a computer trying to do everything I can. What seems to be more important is to
Use the time effective (and efficiently)
The key distinction is: do I have to work 3 weeks more to have a feature that nobody will notice? Or I can work 30
hours per week and still make a great game? The second one obviously is what I look for, that means "Do the task that have real value for the project". And to measure real value, you can use the Stephen Covey diagram (very popular, just avoid quadrant III and IV.). I've made my own diagram about Graphics Adventures, but it has different labels: cheap / expensive and fun / boring.
What is cheap and fun, and still expensive but fun its inside the project. Everything else I try to keep apart from it.
Once I have the balance of what is important and what do I need to put attention, I
Need to do a great design project and managing
So I think a good project design putting in time, cost and scope every task. This is one of the best things I've learned at the university and is a great way to understand that everything that you want to do need to be produced, and it's not easy, in fact is so difficult that a lot of people fail to make a living as an artist because they can't finish their art works. That can include me...
So this is the diagram I'm talking about (called the Project Management Triangle). If you want a quality game, you need to have resources (people, computers, etc.), time and a scope (features, characters, etc.). Each time you want a new feature, you're widening the scope. And what happen next? It's a triangle... you're widening the time and the resources too; the triangle has a bigger area, the quality of the game is better too.
If you have more resources (more people) but still want to keep the same quality of the game, you can reduce the amount of time to release the game.
But... this is still a diagram, this is not actually 100% true. You can trick this triangle by measuring the effectiveness of your tasks as I mentioned before. Thinking more effective features reduces the time, the cost of resources and still maintains the game quality.
And the last thing to do, is to apply the plan (and fight with your fear... as I fighting now). In this step, I notice, is very important to
Meassure every task of the project
I use freeware time tracker called Grindstone and I measure every task. Once the project is finished, I can plan better the next one (and that means to understand better what was important or not, what was more productive or not).
Some lectures that influenced this post:
Life Optimizer: A guide to having a Crisis-Proof Career (I've learned the concept versatilist)
Dailyblogtips: Efficiency vs Effectiveness (just a random explanation from a blog)
There're a lot more, as I'm not a great blogger...I dind't save them, so IOU.