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  • Game Development Community

    dev|Pro Game Development Curriculum

    GarageGames Game Development Handbook

    by Eric Preisz · 08/21/2013 (11:09 am) · 28 comments

    My first game development project had very little project management structure. As a result, we were late, over-budget, and below our quality target. This pattern is all to familiar to most game developers; if it has not happened to you, it does not mean you are good –it means you are inexperienced ;) I think people react those experiences in one of two ways: they become more reactive or they become more structured. I believe there are errors in both paths at the extremes. Like most things in life, looking forward and reacting to change should be balanced.

    My reaction was to become more structured. I gathered estimates, refined methods, and aimed for more accuracy. I have outlined a lot of those methods in this article if you are interested.

    Structure is great, but game development is not like building a spec home. With a spec home, builders follow a well-designed plan built by people who have experience builing many homes. The builder will often build the same exact home many times. The methods, techniques, and materials are well understood. Comparatively, there are a lot more variances and unknowns in game development –this is multiplied if you are doing something no one has ever done before.

    Without the foreshadowing of the former paragraph regarding change, the methods we endorse may make you believe that we don’t believe in Agile methods -that’s not really the case. What I would say is that we tend to do more horizon planning than a lot of game developers. For me, the horizon plans defines what you think you will build and how you think you will build it; agile development is how you actually execute that plan.

    Being a manger who needs to manage budget, hiring, and revenue has strengthened my desire to plan ahead; now that we are working for other companies, who may have never developed a game, we need to plan with people outside our company and experiences. If you have never made a game before, there’s a lot to experience. Our reaction was to build an orientation guide for new customers that walks them through the pre-production process we use. I thought that the same information might be useful for you and your colleagues, so we decided to write this blog and share the document with you.

    There are two parts. The first part is the GG Orientation Handbook, which is designed like a car manual that walks you through our methods. The second part was inspired by a cognitive psychologist who we hired to consult us on an education project. He told us that testing someone forces them to recall information which helps to move memories from working memory to long term memory (RAM to mass storage???). The second part is a test we built on Smarterer.com.

    I hope you get a chance to look at both. Feedback and comments are welcome.

    About the author

    Manager, Programmer, Author, Professor, Small Business Owner, and Marketer.

    Page «Previous 1 2
    08/21/2013 (11:41 am)
    Wow theres a ton of information there! Thanks for this! It will definetly come in handy!
    08/21/2013 (12:08 pm)
    Great information! Thanks!
    08/21/2013 (12:16 pm)
    Thank you so much Eric.
    08/21/2013 (5:26 pm)
    Hey Eric - you're starting to sound like Eric Brechner's "I.M. Wright's Hard Code". A good book, if you haven't read it. It's a distillation of his column in Microsoft's internal newsletter and carries some interesting insight into Microsoft itself as well as finding the right path for each project.
    08/21/2013 (5:39 pm)
    I love the calculation formula for estimates, might actually use it for my own purposes.

    Handbook Document

    I love that it goes into enough detail to get anyone unfamiliar with game dev to immediately understand what they're getting into.

    I must say that I would have preferred more diagrams to illustrate the timeline. It's easier to visualize the global concept that way instead of just having it described textually.

    The Test!

    Fun test! I think it's fair to note however that when one of the possible answers to a question is 'all of the above', the 'all of the above' option should appear as the 4th or last choice.

    When I took the test, the 'all of the above' option appeared as the second or third choice, making it unclear if it meant

    - All of the other answers
    - All of the answers above this one (#1 and #2).

    Aside from that, it's a great and fun way to make sure that your clients have a strong grasp on the process.

    Congratulations to all those involved!
    08/21/2013 (9:03 pm)
    Thanks for the handbook document, going through it now, looks really useful. Tried the test or rather tried the test practice question and fell flat on my face - 'Cadence, what the bloody hell is cadence.' This is what seperates us amateurs from you professionals.
    08/21/2013 (9:32 pm)
    This.... This is good. Printing now... (I think I will keep a copy right next to Dave Wyand's T3D Cookbook.

    08/21/2013 (9:49 pm)
    @Richard - I will check that out!

    @Simon - Thanks! Yea, it shuffles the questions automatically. What's also cool is that it tracks stats and gives you warnings if it thinks the question is unfair. Glad you found that for us before they found it.

    Cadence...something I heard someone say many years ago to describe the frequency of meetings or checkpoints. Here's the dictionary definition: "the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity"

    Thanks everyone!
    08/21/2013 (10:08 pm)

    I would give up my first born (though I think his wife and my grand child might have an issue with the idea :-) to pick your brain about contracting and such. Thanks for putting this info out.

    08/21/2013 (10:24 pm)
    @Ron - I've got a new baby coming any day now so I'd be hesitant to schedule anything. Send me an e-mail in a few weeks and we can set up a Google Hangout session where you and others can join.
    08/21/2013 (10:30 pm)

    Wow! Congrats and pass along my best wishes to your spouse (they always tend to get ignored once the baby is being all cute and stuff!) Either way, this is GREAT news. We can always use future 'Torque users :-)'. Take your time and thanks for offering to help out! When you eventually get time... you know my email (I will leave it all up to you.... since you have a new human and all to help take care of). Oh yeah... I will be a 'grandpa' come February... so, I get it ;-).

    Take care! Best wishes to you and your family!

    08/21/2013 (11:13 pm)
    Thanks @Eric, this comes in handy!
    08/22/2013 (5:39 am)
    That was all very interesting.

    But, as a Brit ... "smarterer" ... the crimes against grammar going on in that name drive me round the bend! :P


    Baby names ... please let it be Kork! ;o)
    08/22/2013 (6:02 am)
    Nice stuff :o) Thanks for the upload and congratulations with the new baby on its way :o)

    08/22/2013 (9:00 am)
    Great handbook, thanks Eric!
    08/22/2013 (9:01 am)
    Good Stuff! Thanks for sharing it Eric.
    08/22/2013 (10:51 am)
    O_O KNOWLEDGE.... Time to just in!
    08/29/2013 (8:42 am)
    Thank you! Very useful info!
    09/02/2013 (9:50 pm)
    This is a wonderful Handbook!

    May I translate this into Japanese and share it to Japanese people?
    09/03/2013 (9:57 pm)
    @Watanabe - That would be great provided that you attribute the original work to GarageGames.
    Page «Previous 1 2

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