Avoiding the 5 most common (and costly) mistakes guaranteed to derail your game
Creating games isn’t easy. It’s not just about sitting down, thinking of a cool idea, and coding it up – a lot can go wrong. Read on to learn about some of the most typical pitfalls. If you can overcome these, you’ll improve your game’s chances to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
There are several levels to developing a successful game, each with its own set of critical responsibilities. In fact, it’s more like a lifecycle with seven stages:
- Live ops (which then enables optimization, looping you back to Preproduction)
With so much to think about at each level of the game creation process, it can be easy for critical elements to slip. With that in mind, let’s look at five of the most common mistakes game creators and developers make that derail a game’s process, cause unnecessary delays and frustration, and add costs to an already tight budget.
Mistake #1: Not planning your game properly from the start
Planning might seem like a simple step. After all, to create a game you need to plan how. However, you need to be thorough – a game will only be as successful as the discipline and insight you put into planning.
Plans that lack detail, ignore financial realities, and miss the big picture are all too common in the game development industry and lead to severely negative consequences further down the road. Team morale, ship dates, game quality, and a studio’s return on investment (ROI) may be impacted.
It’s surprisingly easy for studios to be careless in scoping timelines, resources, and deliverables. Creators can get caught up in chasing artistic perfection while ignoring the importance of a timely ROI. And developers get distracted by some early innovative tech and miss the big picture. Your prototype may be a stunning creation, but if you don’t plan for all of the elements needed to support it, no one will play or invest in it.
Mistake #2: Not targeting the platform that best suits your game
If you’re going to dedicate time and resources to creating a successful game, not putting enough thought into what platform best suits your game’s style, genre, and specs can be a make-or-break mistake.
Furthermore, you need to research what platform best suits your dev style. All platforms have their pros and cons, and some are more appropriate for different types of games, genres and even developers.
So, you need to make sure a big chunk of your planning goes into researching and targeting the platform that works best for what you’re aiming to accomplish. You should take into account each platform’s technical constraints, existing (and future) competition for your game, and even the relationships you’ll need to cultivate with platform reps.
Mistake #3: Wasting internal resources and using difficult workflows
Sometimes, game development can be more challenging than expected and can eat up a lot of valuable time – especially as you near your planned launch date.
It’s no secret that you’ll eventually run into software roadblocks (everyone does), but you may not always have the in-house resources to cope with them. You might be tempted to stretch your team thin just to make your deadline, but that will only lead to a demoralized team.
Additionally, neglecting the day-to-day workflows for your developers and artists is a constant drain on their value, and creates a massive lost-opportunity cost.
You can avoid a lot of anxiety and costs by taking advantage of external engine-platform support and online resources, whenever possible. Make it a top priority to optimize workflows for your content creators.
Mistake #4: Inadequate profiling
If you’re not on top of how your code is performing on your target platforms, you can expect to feel immensely frustrated when you eventually learn you’ve got a problem.
To optimize a game’s performance and overcome device fragmentation, you need to conduct profiling early and often. Keep your finger on the pulse of how the CPU, memory, renderer, and audio components are getting along to help you identify performance bottlenecks early. Then you can spend less time fixing issues and more time improving actual game features and experience – the elements crucial to your game’s success.
Mistake #5: Over-engineering
Shortening your development cycle is key to getting your game to market quickly. The window of opportunity for a hot game is usually only open for a short time, so take advantage of it.
This is where feature creep, or engineering for problems and features that your game doesn’t have, causes the most damage. By diminishing the flexibility of your code and your development process, it is often counterproductive – and a waste of valuable time.
The trick here is to keep things as simple as possible. Build the game you’ve scoped out and planned for, instead of trying to build for every future variation you can imagine. Take a close look at your code; if it shows functions that don’t have much practical impact and your work is making things more complex instead of simpler, you’re definitely over-engineering.
There’s more where this came from
So, there you have it. We’ve briefly gone over some of the more common (and often most costly) mistakes game creators, developers, and studios make, sometimes without even being aware of it. These mistakes often strain the development process, derail planned launch dates, and overall negatively impact efficiency and the quality of the end product.
We’re almost certain that you now have questions about how you can actively plan for and avoid these obstacles. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of our experts’ detailed recommendations and advice for avoiding the pitfalls highlighted in this piece, to help you build and launch the highest quality game possible, on time, while keeping your costs down and your team productive.