Category Archives: idea

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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From idea to game: the idea

On fairs and conventions I get asked quite often: “How do you come up with your ideas?”. Well, to be honest, they just pop up. The good thing is – it requires some training, but I think it can be learned by anybody. First thing: I open up! Ideas float around me and if I start to listen it is hard not to see them everywhere. I see ideas in movies, other games (obviously, isn’t it?), nature, people, hobbies, dreams, books, paintings, daily situations, the list goes on. I get inspired everyday – mostly because I love to see creativity everywhere. Inspiration comes to me at every corner and more often than I like at everyday places – like the shower, in the bed or on a walk. Why I don’t like this? Because sometimes I cannot shower, sleep or walk in calm, always ideas pop up and want to be written down.

Many game developers are very secretive about their ideas. But ideas are cheap – sorry to say that. Good ideas are what counts and ideas that are good and can be done are the only ones worth following. (That should not keep you from dreaming up your evil masterplan, though!) Whenever I have an idea, I sit back and think a minute or two about it. I chew it and spit it out on some piece of paper. I do not overdo it – I try to keep my idea tight. 1-3 lines should do the trick. A good idea takes time to grow. I never give in to its calling until I thought it thru. Meaning, I will think further about my idea, talking about it to my friends (sorry for that!) and making it more solid, before writing anything further down. This idea may stay with me (and anyone connected to me) for months and years to come so it better be something at least I am interested in seeing everyday.
Tomorrow I will continue about the two main methods of game developing.

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