Always Have a Game Design Document
Math Invaders was created during an impromptu game jam session one weekend. Afterwards, we decided to flesh out the game further to an actual product that we could put up on the store. When we first started the game jam, we only created a simple design for one level of the game because that was all we were planning on making. And it worked for what we wanted. However, upon our decision to make a full game out of it, we never created a fully fleshed out design of the overall game mechanics and that’s where problems occurred.
You always hear that a game design document is crucial and boy is that true. We kept running into situations where we kept switching up mechanics or design because it overlooked other parts of the game in some fashion. There were too many assumptions made with nothing written down in print.
GDDs are a game developers friend!
– Robert Louden
Tablets Are Different From Computers
Again, with Math Invaders, it was designed with a tablet computer in mind. Naturally, the game was designed on computers but you should be constantly testing on your target device; it only makes sense! We did not do that. Original controls for the game did not translate to the tablet that well. Lesson learned!
– Robert Louden
Be sure to tell the artist to scale their assets before exporting them to the programmers 😉 Also make sure they know to use the same scaling. In Math Invaders we were having an odd issue with trying to get particles to appear as smoke from the engines of our Squirt characters. As it turned out, both artists were using very different scalings for the smoke and Squirt – orders of magnitudes different. It cost us roughly 8hrs which translates into almost 1/2 production week for us. Little things like this add up, so make sure you are using good configuration management and a design document. Better communication could have solved this too.
– Jason Blackford