The two methods of game development

Welcome back. Today I promised to talk about the methods of game development. For me there are basically two main ways to develop a game. One is called top down and the other bottom up. Top down development resembles the grand scheme. I do not worry about details (yet) and just let my mind wander, structure it and write it down. I use this technique mainly when I do contract work for the mainstream game industry as I can make a whole team understand the idea the company wants to create and delegate smaller tasks or whole branches of the idea-tree to my fellow developers. A good readable and structured design document is a must for this approach. It is time consuming and sometimes very hierarchic. In big projects this is also the normal approach as everything a team develops has to work together. You normally have to deal with some strict timelines and project plans, milestones and whatnot. The worst about this approach is that it is hard to change direction once the project has been started. Since game development sometimes is a bit like rocket science (one develops stuff that nobody might have done before) I still find it hard to put an excact date on every item that needs to be developed.

As an Indie developer I mostly prefer the second method: bottom up.
Bottom up lets me invent a game mechanic and built a game around it. I use it in my current project GalaxiTaxi which is a space taxi like game for iOS with some nice twists in it. In GalaxiTaxi everything evolves around the idea of the player beeing pulled down by gravity while transporting small aliens from one platform to the other. This is the basic gameplay mechanic. As soon as I think a bit over this basic idea I immidiately start to program that basic concept and draw some first graphics. I then play around with this basic mechanic until I find it to be satisfactory or I drop the idea completely. If the idea is fun enough, the next step is to try more and more small ideas (like adding wind or water physics) and tweaking here and there. Whenever something is not fun it gets dropped and if it is fun it may get enhanced. This does work very well in a small team or as a solo developer as long as one gets not carried away. I always try to keep my focus on completing a game in the time span I set for myself. Luckily today I can create one part of the game and release pieces and addons without much hassle whenever I have the ressources. But that will be covered on a different day. 🙂

So thanks for dropping by and reading until here. Tomorrow I will post some first pictures of GalaxiTaxi and let you in on the development process a bit more with: Developing for a specific platform.

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