Part 14 – Perspective, keep it or lose it!

We’ve spoken before about keeping your work in perspective, but let’s talk a little more about that subject. One thing we like to tackle with our weekly write-ups is the bigger picture in game development. Sure, we could gas on about using Maya over 3DSmax or Visio versus Google Docs but let’s talk about the core of game development, shall we?

You versus yourself!

Perspective is simply your point of view toward your game project.  Sometimes you want to zoom that view way in but most of the time you want to keep it far out so you can see what’s happening. There are a lot of ways to make a game and some people advocate things like a vertical slice (which is essentially building a representative portion of the game with all working parts). Others might tell you to work on everything at once. I can tell you from experience anything can be made to work if you have enough time and money. Let’s assume you have limited amounts of both and here’s how perspective can help you finish your game sooner and better.

Zooming Out

First thing… a key component is to realistically assess your skills and available resources. If you were adrift on a raft at sea and had a small backpack of food. You would probably take careful and accurate stock of your supplies. You need to do that here too. Accurate stock of your supplies will help you down the line since you will be in a better position to either bring in or refuse help if it arrives.

Perspective will also help you with your own skills and make things clearer while you are working. Are you a fantastic artist but not a great programmer and you are working alone on a project? Well, you probably don’t want to start with a giant space themed MMO as your first game. Likewise you will want to lean on things you know and love (we have spoken about this before).

One thing we do with Boss 101 is constantly pull back and look at the game as a potential customer might. We assess the value of the game based only on the screenshots we have released and the information out there. We put aside for the moment we’re the creators and we already know how wonderful the game is. The deal here is we are looking at it like a real life customer would. This is incredibly helpful. Another obvious thing is to look at similar games and see where you stack up. The intent is to compare the overall polish of a game you hold dear with your current efforts.

Zooming in

There are plenty of times you will want to micro focus on art, mechanics and code. Ideally this all happens after a big picture moment or once the plan has been laid out. Diving straight into machine gun art or character modeling before any prelim deign has happened is risky at best.

Once you have your direction then we are into what most people would agree is the heart of game making. This is where you are doing heavy lifting and getting the game made. Art assets, code, sound and countless other specific game tasks would fall into this realm. You will need to remove all distractions to do your best work.

Wrapping up

Remember to always pull back and look at your work as a whole. See where the parts are fitting and how well they are progressing. It will help you stay on track and keep the motivation high.

We have spoken a lot about the power of perspective in one form or another. The reason is pretty simple… it is a key component of getting you through game development safely. The fastest PC, the best scheduling and the most talented team are dead in the water if they don’t keep their eyes on the goal. Perspective helps you do that, so use it!

Next week – Making magical pixel art in Photoshop (and other programs)!