Categories
Game dev

The importance of project planning

If you follow my devlogs, you already know how much I consider the lack of planification on a project as a reason (if not the biggest reason) of many abandoned projects.

Can-we really blame ourselves to not reach our goals when we don’t take the time to correctly prepare and plan our projects?

As an indie game developer, I’ve often been tempted to jump in a new project, just following a new idea or inspiration, without taking (enough) time to think about the project itself and plan it. As an impulsive person when we speak about my passion, I tend to easily fall for the cool and attractive sides of working on a new game. The problem is, behave like that resulted in the abandon, to not say the failure, of many ideas.

Let’s take the example of my favorite game idea. It was at the very beginning of my developments of 3D video games with Unity. At that time, I was only discovering the power of this game engine and I wanted to work on a big project, on a big game which would make me rich.

Don’t laugh. Every indie developer goes through this phase where he thinks that developing video games during his free time will make him rich. I mean, what’s wrong with that idea? You just need a big amount of luck like the developers of Angry Birds or Flappy Bird.

Never mind. Let’s get back to the subject and my dreams. I jumped then in the development of a new video game, in which the hero would by Anubis, my big black cat. The goal was to create an open world, where Anubis would help other animals in a forest and have them help him back to find his sisters (my three females). While the initial idea was good but ambitious, it’s my lack of organization and my precipitation who ruined this game in less time than I need to write this post.

Work in Progress – The Fate of Anubis – Realistic concept

From the beginning, I went in all directions, as I didn’t have a guardrail. I had a clear vision of what I wanted, but nothing to help my get there without losing myself in a dark forest with multiple paths. And I’m not even joking. I started by creating a big forest with majestic threes, split in two by a magnificent river that would make the Rhone jealous. To create this environment, I started to use realistic assets. Some of them costed me a lot of money. I also used some tools to create an Unity terrain based on data from Google Earth. After all, I wanted to create the more realistic forest I could. Then, as I spent many days crafting this world, I decided to start over again. I didn’t want a realistic game anymore (in terms of visual). It was too hard to quickly make a big open world with realistic assets. I now wanted to create a Low Poly environment, a visual style that I’ve always appreciated.

Work in Progress – The Fate of Anubis- Low poly concept art

Here I was restarting my game from zero. It was kind of compromised for the quick success I was hoping for. And I did the same for other aspects of the game: at the beginning, it was a first-person game. Then it was a third person one. And finally, a mix of both. I wanted to release the game on computer only, and then I wanted to release it on PS4 and Xbox One. And finally, I was going for a mobile game. You should have the point now. By changing the game direction every now and then, restarting over and over again, I finally got bored by this project and lose my faith in this idea and even my capabilities to do such a big game.

See where I’m going? If I took the time to sit down, think about the game, plan it, then maybe this project would have more chances to succeed.

But that’s not it. Doing a planification isn’t sufficient. It has to be pertinent and thoughtful. When I developed Tales of Argonire – Save the baby unicorns back in 2019, I didn’t spend enough time to plan the game. The result? Once I developed the game at 50%, I found myself in a situation where the planification wasn’t representing the reality and the remaining tasks. As for the Fate of Anubis, I knew where I wanted, I knew how I was going to reach my goals and based on this I planned the game without going enough in the details. But that was not that easy. To develop a good game, you have to split your project in sub-projects. And those subprojects? Split them in tasks. And if those tasks are too big? Use your imaginary lightsaber and cut them again. By taking enough time to do so before actually starting your project, you’ll be sure to always keep the right direction and reach your goals. Or at least, the probability that you succeed are greater.

Tales of Argonire – Save the baby unicorns – Promotional image (with the old name)

By luck, when I worked on Tales of Argonire, I knew how to get back on tracks by many brainstorming and many draft pages. But I lost a lot of time. The game was initially planned to be developed in a month. The reality made that it took me three months to develop it. Not that I wasn’t working fast enough or that I wasn’t doing a good job. It was due to a bad planification. With hindsight, I realize that what seemed to be a quickly developed game was finally more complicated than I thought to create. And if from the beginning I planned the game better, I’m sure I could have saved days or weeks of development.

I write this post with realism but I’m not blaming me for it. The mistakes I’ve made on my previous projects allows me to work better today, with more efficiency, on my video games and other projects too.

In a next post, I’ll explain to you in details how I tend to plan my games now, with some concrete examples from my new project, Low Poly Stellar Expansion (temporary name).

See you soon!

P.S.: Don’t hesitate to share & comment this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *