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No Add-Ons Choo!

November 26, 2012


I think it is time to reflect on the idea and process of simplicity within game design. Let us face facts, we all have been in game development meetings crackling with new ideas and creative excitement. Even if you are a one man company, your brain wants to race ahead into the interesting shooting paths of endless design possibilities. It may be natural but it can also be catastrophic to a game developer.

Your game starts as a statement defining a relationship between the various settings, styles, appeals, play and objective. A budget is created and a projective amount of time is allotted. You know your idea is brilliant and will send the masses swarming to your game. Groupies will hang around office doors waiting just to get a glimpse of this amazing game developer..."CHOO PARR!" "CHOO PARR!" "CHOO PARR!' This is what us Indie game developers live and hope for.

Therefore, it is imperative to remain true to your idea and not add-on...and on... I know it sounds harmless but think of how many new animations must be rendered for one additional monster or an extra collider. Crap, you might think "hey we should put an additional level here because it would be cool." Ya right. You write the checks then big-shot!

Here are a couple of tips I now use in game development/design to avoid the add-ons.

Meetings with a clear time frame and goal:

If meetings are not structured (within reason of course, I am not a 17th century Puritan) it can lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion and expense. For example, if during a scheduled two hour meeting to discuss "game objects" and you veer off into possible music themes, well, you are screwed. Not only did you waste your meeting time, but you have mottled up the music discovery process by jumping around.

Do not complicate things:

I have the ability to take the easiest of tasks and just make it an unalterable mess. Period! How in the hell is that possible?!

Add-ons and complications means more money:

If I had a magical wallet where every time I open it a new hundred dollar bill appears, I would be set for life! Oh how serene it would be here at Choo Parr Productions. Every change, add-on, waste of time or complication draws money away from the necessary elements for the very core idea you had for your game. Whether we like it or not, time is money.

Ah my Indie friends, we all have grandiose elaborate ideas and visions. We want, if possible, to expand the worlds we created, have a musical piece for each level, or even have John Cleese as a voice actor. But because of our limited resources, whether it be time or money, we need to keep our developmental process simple; the most bang out of our buck. We work within a ever changing, fast pace and cut-throat industry. For us Indies, we must leave to the giant game industry labyrinths, (who try to include everything possible) their own methods. The biggies seem to have endless resources and yet many of their products do not contain the elements gamers desire.. We can beat them by doing the opposite; but. with limited resources.