Preparing to Launch: Three Tips for a Smoother Development
Almost a year ago, I came together with three friends to begin work on a project greater in scope than anything I have ever worked on before. After a couple months and countless ideas, we arrived at the design for what would become NiK-0. Since then, we have grown to a team of eight developers and cannot wait to show you all what we have been working on. In the coming weeks we will be releasing gameplay footage, screenshots, and even a video devlog so you can meet the team. However, the purpose of this post is to share with you three crucial tips I wish I emphasized when I began development on NiK-0.
The slowest, least efficient period of NiK-0’s development occurred during the summer of 2017. During this time, the team did not meet in-person on a regular basis, opting instead to work remotely. Coincidence? Reflecting on NiK-0’s development so far, it is easy to see the clear distinction of progress made when the team is together versus working remotely. Remote work can cause several inefficiencies such as poor communication, lack of planning or direction, and even hurt a team’s morale. All of these issues can be solved with regular, in-person team meetings. Here at Go Flight Games, we now have at least two in-person team meetings a week and the benefits have been endless.
When setting out to achieve a development milestone, we like to think backwards. We clearly define our end goal, and then proceed to uncover every task that needs to be accomplished in order to reach it. We then take this knowledge and make a plan. Earlier in our development, this was not always the case. We often had ambiguous goals complemented with equally ambiguous plans. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in wasted time and a slow development process. Once we started thinking backwards, the pace and quality of our development sped up. Define your goal, figure out what it takes to reach it, make a plan, and execute.
Prove Your Design Early
When beginning a new project, it is easy to get lost in the “ideas phase.” Everyone is excited to pitch mechanics, features, art, narrative etc. This phase is important, but it is crucial that you do not spend more time here than you need to. All the design work up to this point is meaningless, as nothing is playable and you have no clue if your design actually works. Stick to a development process where you get to the “play phase” as soon as possible, since this is where you’ll discover the merits of your design.
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