8 game dev mistakes you want to avoid
For almost all of us, the developing own games is a dream. When I started making games I was committed, full of ideas and almost unstoppable. And you know nothing will stop me!
BUT I made more than a few mistakes during that time and it cost me time, energy and motivation. This time I want to help you by describing the mistakes I made along the way.
1. Making a game for you and only you
A few times I made a mistake of not getting any feedback along the way from friends, other players that might be interested in a game. Before embarking on your game dev journey, make sure your game has a target audience and you know how big that audience is. You asking how you can achieve this? It's really simple. Just find similar games to your idea and check their stats. You can see the number of installs or other useful data. Collect as many data as possible, keywords, install numbers, reviews, etc..
2. Trying to make own game engine
While I was watching numerous videos on youtube or reading dev blogs or so, I noticed one thing. Many people with programming backgrounds wanted to dive into a game dev by creating the game engine by themself. Some of them love the thrill of a challenge and some of the devs might just have that inherent need to create things from scratch. While this can give you some experience it won't make your game easier to publish.
There are more than enough engines to use, and they’ll all save you time and money.
The benefits of using an existing engine are countless. Engines like Unity3D or Godot have countless tutorials online or in books. The community around these engines is huge are if you need support there is a lot of options available for you. Another option you need to consider is that these engines have huge stores with assets that can save you a lot of time. Do you want a more realistic water shader? You don't need to break your head over implementing it in the engine and just get it in a store. They are always more options for you, free solutions or paid one.
3. Making time-consuming features and tech
I sometimes spend a lot of time making a feature to the game that was doomed from the start.
Working on those extra features can mean delayed shipping, and also may have been wasted work. Instead, just focus on creating a minimum viable product, and scale once you have the numbers to prove that it would be a wise investment.
4. Not identifying the critical part of the development process
The critical path is the sequence of events, that if any are delayed, will delay the entire
project. It’s important to identify the critical path at the very start of your project.
Once you have that identified, it’s time to mitigate any risks that you foresee - you
need a backup plan. For example, what if that a person crucial to a sequence in the path, gets sick or have If that happens, the cost of the whole team continues while development effectively stalls. Not having a backup plan for situations like this can end a project. Think about it.
5. Not thinking about targeted platform
This is basically the process that your game goes through when submitting your
game to a specific platform.
If you’re developing for a unique console like the Nintendo Switch, there might be specific
guidelines on how your game should interact. With the Joycon alone, one can imagine a number of scenarios that have to be accounted for, like what happens when a joycon is removed mid-game?
You need to allot time to read over all of the guidelines and spent even more time on implementing them.
It might feel a little tedious, but doing this is the only way to get on your desired platform,
and on the bright-side, it makes you an expert on that platform for future titles.
6. Not reading postmortems
What is a postmortem? A post-mortem is a process, usually performed after a game is released, to determine and analyze elements of the project and document what went wrong, and what went right. Organizations use them as tools to guide follow up projects.
A lot of devs have been where you are, some have failed, some have done ok for themselves, and some have captured lightning in a bottle.
You have people sharing their mistakes and providing solid advice on what not to do,
and you also have other devs sharing their tools and secrets to their success.
Read as many post-mortems as you can - a post-mortem from a dev can be more valuable than any lesson in a textbook. This is 1st-hand experience in a market that you’re about to enter. The best place to read indie dev post-mortems is gamasutra.com.
You can check out the GDC vault for video post-mortems.
7. Not sharing work to the world
One thing is that we have the tendency to not show our alpha games to the world. It can have a lot of reasons. Either, we’re holding off because we want to make it perfect, we’re too nervous to show people, or we think people will steal our ideas! The problem is, you can’t just flip a switch, and have the world see your game. Getting people to just even see your game is a struggle.
Today, the market is overloaded with thousands of games. You can not just toggle a switch to be visible. You need to share. Share your work whenever you have a new feature implemented, a new UI, a new player animation. People really like to be inspired and share great work or screenshots. And where to share? Anywhere you can. Create social platforms for your game or game studio and get involved in the community. Follow other indies and spark or join the conversation. Create a dev blog/vlog. Keep track of your progress on a dev blog. Sharing your progress is a great way to keep your followers engaged with your game.
Every major city has meetups for game development. Our city, for example, has meetups for indie development, VR development, mobile development, and Twitch streaming. Join them, bring your demo, and get feedback from your local community.
8. Not optimizing your store page
It’s not enough to just add your game on a platform, you need to optimize your store
page. Use ASO tools as much as you can. Work on the short description, long description. Look at some guidelines on how to create the best store page. You can find some information on post-mortems. Every platform has specific ASO rules. Don't use the same description for the Apple store and Play Store etc..
These were 8 main mistakes I made or learned during my game dev carrier. I hope it will help with yours.