5 Ways To Save Time While Developing a Game


Written By MrSun at 8:00 am - Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
Categories: Game Development

Photo by Asif Akbar From Stock.xchngIf you’ve ever made any type of game, you should know that it usually takes a pretty large chunk of time to develop. Nobody likes to waste time, well at least I don’t, so here’s a list of methods that I use to prevent time wasting.

1. Brainstorm

I know I’ve talked about this step quite a bit (here and here). But, that is because it is indeed the most important step. If you really hate brainstorming, then you don’t have to do it for to long, but you should at least actually do it. You wouldn’t walk around a city you haven’t visited before without a map, would you? (nice symbolism, eh?)

2. Make a Loose Schedule to Follow

I say loose because it is often hard or even impossible to predict how long it will exactly take to add certain elements to your game. You should also create a similar schedule if you can, for the times you will actually be developing the game.

3. Make a To-Do List For Your Game

To-do lists are great for everything. Just being able to check things off a list makes me more motivated to move onto the next part. It also helps prevents those times when you find yourself just staring at the screen or playing your own game longer than you should be. Just look at the list and BOOM, you have something to do. I usually write my to-do lists either right after I work on my game (so I can easily remember what I need to work on), or at night, when I’m also writing my blog posts. In fact, I actually just made a to-do list for my current project.

4. Make Games that You Know You Can Make

If you’re a newbie at programming, then I suggest that you don’t try to tackle a complicated RPG for your first few game. I actually made this exact mistake before and I eventually gave up after a month of having no idea what to do. That was a month I could have spent working on projects that I could have actually profited off of. Do not let this happen to you.

5. Comment Your Code Correctly

There are a lot of conflicting beliefs about commenting code, but I’m on the side that says that they are good, if used correctly. Nothing is more time wasting than having to puzzle over the code you wrote the other day, trying to figure out how that function can be changed to add a new feature. And no, you will not remember what everything does forever. You never know when you have to go back to code you wrote last year.

Of course, you shouldn’t comment your code too much, either. Over-commenting also wastes time. Here’s a rule of thumb: if the code is self explanatory, then you don’t have to comment it. Here’s an example of over-commented code (in ActionScript).

var hungry:Boolean = false; //The variable hungry is not true, meaning that the character isn't hungry
if(hungry){//if the character actually turns out to be hungry, then run the following code
eat();//run the eat() function
}//that's all that this if condition is checking for
 
//did I leave my stove on? I should check

Yes, this is quite an exaggeration, but you get the point. Actually, this code doesn’t need any commenting at all. If the variable and function names say what they do, then there is no need for any more explanation. Of course, there are always exemptions from this rule.

One Comment

brad:

Great post. You really hit on the big issues that developers get hung up on. The most useful feature for me is a to-do list that has a prioritization feature. That way I always know which 2-3 things I need to get on immediately. When those are done I prioritize again.

Really nice site. I like your articles.


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