7 difficulties in game development
1. Project estimation
Estimating any type of project can be hard, but it is especially true for video games.
For an industry that is as fast changing as this, you have to keep a tight lid on schedule. Otherwise you’ll end up always iterating and implementing new ideas until the end of time.
A cool new feature always sounds good, but do you have the time? Does the benefits outweight the cost? Does much of the code have to be changed?
These are just some of the questions you have to answer before starting anything new.
There are countless development teams who failed to deliver because of poor time allocation. Having good management is key, someone who oversees every aspect of the development process and can evaluate the ideas and shut them down or postpone them to another project.
2. Preproduction phase
Or a lack thereof. This problem is common in almost every game development studio, small and large too. Usually when a game ships, the whole team jumps to the next project, skipping most of the preproduction phase. Without proper preproduction, many design decisions are made during proper game production phase, which is highly dangerous, and can be damaging to the product or to the schedule (in worst cases both). Lack of preproduction can cause lack of coherence in your product. You can create fun gameplay, beautiful graphics, great music and sound effects, but if these elements don’t play well together, then you failed to create a great game. We try to eliminate this problem by starting the preproduction process with few people before the regular production of the previous game is finished. If you do your homework (preproduction) properly, then the whole team has a strong coherent vision from the beginning, which is essential in successful game development.
Deciding if a feature is valid can be a problematic process. When you implement it and it doesn’t work do you keep polishing it or just cut it entirely? You have to weight the pros and cons. If you keep working on it you could loose a lot of work hours. But if you cut it, you might just lost a great feature that only needed more work.
This is where experience is really important. After a few projects you have a better overall understanding of how much time should you invest in it and have a better grasp of your limits.
4. Getting tired during the project
We really believe, if you work in the entertainment business (games, films, music, etc.), your work loudly speaks about your attitude. You really have to believe in the project to do a good job on it. If the only reason you do it, is to get a pay check at the end of the month, it will definitely show up in your work.
Being excited for a project in the beginning is easy, the trick is to sustain this attitude for the whole duration of the development. It can be really difficult, when you are working on a huge scale project with very short deadline. In this situation the whole team is forced to crunch (working crazy long hours). For a few days it’s managable, but a few months of non-stop work going to burn and tire you out mentally and physically.
Here we try to build a healthy working culture, working 8 focused hours, and crunching for short periods of time only, when its absolutely necessary.
Video games are carefully designed experiences. And nothing can ruin this more like a badly executed feature, weird anomalies and bugs. Some say, that the last 10% of development time is more important than the first 90%, and it’s true to some extent. It can be really demanding to polish everything in time, when you are facing a tough release schedule.
The best way to avoid long crunch periods is to keep a tight lid on executing everything don’t just put them off for later. The closer the deadline is, the more of the things you put off will come back to haunt you.
Nowadays making game is a more open process than anytime before. Thanks to the abundant communication channels, developers can get in touch easier with their audience than ever before. Releasing an alpha or a beta version of your product can yield important data, in both the game’s state and the reception of it.
If something is not sitting well with your potential consumers, you’ll have an immediate feedback.
Don’t be shy and don’t get discouraged about negative response. The target audience can be especially demanding and sometimes even toxic, but if you sift through it, analysing the data can be beneficial.
This is maybe the most crucial aspect of making a successful product. A game can be good, but if the people have no way of knowing about it, it is going to fail.
Everyday hundreds of games are released on every platform. Making yours known is a tough job. Especially if you are on a budget.
Advertising is expensive but there are other ways. Social media, blogs and forums are a great jumping point. Know your target audience. Have dialogue. People will want their voices to be heard. Build a community. This way everytime you start something new you already now where to start.
It is also a good idea to get in touch with the relevant press to have some coverage on your game.