There has not been as much progress as I would have liked at this point and it has made me realise I have some issues with completing my ideas.(Me)
I had a number of goals for this week, mostly surrounding fleshing out and filling in the dots for my GDD, which is still in progress of being completed, as I still need to complete the mood boards for the aesthetics, but I have put that off in favour of getting the prototype ready to go. To check off my goals from last week though; I have set up my GDD with its mechanics, aesthetics and components partly completed and I have set up my Unity game files. While I do not yet have people for the specific problems I will face, I have a plan to get people involved during the Marketplace on Thursday.
I realised something while working on the GDD by myself, something I haven’t done for a while, especially in this short amount of time, I really dislike paperwork, and while that may not be that surprising it held a surprising consequence. I have difficulty making plans through documentation, I get stuck, on it being ‘Documentation’ and ‘Paperwork’ and my brain stops working for long periods of time until I have my firm ideas. I have come up with some solutions, mostly deferring the ‘official’ documentation until my plans are finished being made, and talking to people about what I’m doing, more about this in my research section though.
Research – Game Documentation and Planning
I was approached by Glenn on Friday about the potential to give a talk about the benefits of HacknPlan, an online project management system designed for game designers. I realised that I would need a bit more information about the uses and how a greater level of management would help with team scaling, so this space will be to explore the concepts that make this softweare powerful. At the same time I realised I needed a better handle on how I make my documentation, a core aspect of game designing and management after butting my head against a wall trying to finish my GDD. Naturally I decided to combine these into one mega mashup planning research section, what could go wrong?
Project planning is one of the most important aspects for any development team, from solo developer to small indie teams to large AAA deverlopment titles. While it’s true that the larger the group is, the more important having proper structure, plan and documentation is, this doesn’t mean small groups can’t benefit from having some level of documented structure, even if it is as simple as a concrete pipeline for development and a written plan of features and assets.
a proper work methodology and planning is key to make a serious project a success
Chris Estevez, 2015
HacknPlan is a project management tool, developed specifically for games developers, by a solo developer from the games community. It’s features include a detailed to do list for sprints, a backlog area for tasks that need attention further down the line, but are not immediate aspects of the current sprint, Design Model to list all the tasks needed for the project and a detailed metric area to show progress and reports. These features open up somewhat after subscribing with Gantt chart production, filters for seeing specific areas of production, auto time tracker (start time, stop time, records time taken), important integrations (Google Calendar, GitHub, Slack etc.) and more. However, the free version has a basic use and is most of what I need, minus a couple of features that would just be nice, and the full subscription price of 8£ per month means it’s not a wallet killer. The main use at the moment for me is the to do list:
The to do list has many features which make it a powerful tool, from being able to log hoursfor each aspect to allow you to see how much each task has taken to do, to assigning resources and costs to tasks, to assigning it a place in the project plan, importance levels, tags, categories and users for filters, attachments and many more helpful features. These optional features really allow you to see how you are spending your time and energy in production, and allow you to make better decisions and be conscious of improvements you can make for future projects.
Next week I will explore how well my new techniques have worked for documentation, and some ideation techniques that help me work through mental blocks and barriers.
I have made some progress in my development and I firmly believe I will have a working prototype by Friday (and something to show and be interesting by Thursday for Marketplace). The next week will be heavily focused around Marketplace, the immediate goals being to have aspects to show for that, and get people interested in Viruses (the most number of assets I need to make are the different Viruses to make the game interesting)
- Find out who I can get to make various components I will need (cont.)
- Finish Prototype to a preview-able level
- Finalise mood boards and know exactly what the game will entail
This has been my life for a little while, developing the AI systems to attack viruses and not stand around looking silly. They can be spawned to go to a specific location, if they find things to attack on the way, they do so, otherwise they reach their destination and search for enemies to eat. The squares are Immune cells and circles are viruses, the squares eat the circles and the circles reproduce. This is the core mechanic upon which all my other mechanics will be based, so I wanted to make sure this was done right and was, at least, interesting to look at and use.