Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Benefit of Solid Design

The Benefit of Solid Design

Star Dancer was first conceived by myself in January of 2015.  I've talked a little about my inspiration and design process before but I thought I'd add some more.

When a game is developed, typically an indie game, features are often added and coded into shape as the game takes form over the course of its development.  Preliminary design work usually consists of no more than 'wouldn't it be cool too....' and is one of the reasons why many designs fail to make it to production.

I have hundreds of pages of hand written notes that have formed this game's design. But at the same time I've written games before.  

In 2008 I released a space combat shooter to a small audience (my work place) which was really just a hobby piece - not suitable for the general public to consume.  In 2004 or 2005 I wrote a space combat simulator which simply allowed the user to watch like a screensaver a space battle unfolding.

So as such I have knowledge of the techniques needed to make a space game.  I certainly don't believe I'm the best at this but I do have a background in mathematics, coding and science fiction which has stood me in good stead when developing Star Dancer.

When I look back at the original design work I did - which had details for the database backend, costs for commissioning artwork, screen interface details, flow of screen to screen there is a good amount which has been turfed.  However the core hasn't really deviated very much from my original design. It is very, very close to it in many ways. 

As such I am quite content to say that the game I have produced and am still enhancing is extremely close to the game I envisioned in January.  The concept that was in mind is extremely close to the finished product. And as such I am proud of my efforts.

I've said it before and will repeatedly say it.  If this game never sells more than a dozen copies I will still consider it a success, even if the cost of development was high - because I enjoy it.

The benefit of solid design work is that the direction the game takes during development is clear and as such results in a clear focus for the user when the game is released.  My game is good at what it does and it doesn't try to be all things to all people. Instead it focuses on what it is good at and sticks to its core values.

Something that can be a concern in the initial development stages is that you may think that someone else will copy your design. However that is a pointless concern because a) there are so many games and ideas out there that it is unlikely and b) no one can produce an exact replica of what you are making because they have different ideas about what to focus on.  

There are definitely better space games out there than mine on the market.  There are games with higher production values. There are games with a more well known game mechanic.  But there are still to my knowledge no games quite like my own. It is distinctive and of high quality - as the reviews have attested.

I hope you enjoy the game. If you've read this well done, you're one of a select few!

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