How to Make a Game – Part 21
The Nature of the Fence
Today’s how to make a game column is about understanding the correct priorities for your game and your time while developing your game. No one wants to waste time while they are working, but we (and I include myself in this category) often focus on things which might be put aside to make room for the real meat of the project. Let’s start with a great parable:
A lion was captured and placed in a large yard surrounded by a high fence. He soon became acquainted with the social life of the other lions who had been there a long time. The lions had divided themselves into several clubs, each with its own activities. One group met regularly to hate and slander the captors. Another group met to sing sentimentally about a future jungle having no fences. And a third group met secretly to plot violence against the other groups. Each club tried to pressure the newcomer into joining, but something held him back. His hesitation was caused by one particular lion who kept to himself and who seemed to be in deep thought. The newcomer shyly approached the solitary lion and requested an explanation of his introversion.
‘Join nothing,’ replied the lion. ‘Those foolish creatures do everything but the necessary. I am doing what is essential, so one day I will be out of here. You are welcome to all the facts I have uncovered.’
But what is this necessary thing you are doing?
‘Listen carefully. I am studying the nature of the fence.’
The point is, are you focusing on the things that will make your game better, more fun and arguably more palatable to the consumer? I am guessing you want to sell a lot of copies and bring excitement to as many people as possible. For that, you will need to study what your limits are and face hard truths before you can move on. Some thoughts:
- Just because you and your team think a mechanic is brilliant doesn’t mean anyone else will. We tend to love our own children and easily look past any deficiencies.
- When was the last time you bought and fully completed a game just like the one you are making? The question here is designed to find whether you are in this for the money or the passion. Passion will take you farther. Period.
- What is the weakest area of your project and what are you doing to make it better each day?
- How often do you step back from the project and look at it from the 20,000 foot view or the view of a consumer paying money for your project? You should be doing this all the time is the ideal answer.
- Do you comment or offer advice to any other developers? Are you on places like IndieDB or TIGForums? These are great places to meet and talk with people like you as well as get feedback about your project.
- Do you update the public about your project regularly? While most would agree this is not the most important aspect of development, I would argue it puts you in the mindset of preparing and sharing your work. This is very helpful when it comes time to really push the game from a marketing perspective.
There you go. Those are just a few question you should be asking about your own fence. I’m certain you can name quite a few more. Spend a moment thinking about this and perhaps you can share your thoughts with me or others!
Talk with you soon!