5 min read

Create a game that people want and make sure people know about the game.

While that statement is certainly not wrong, it’s a gross oversimplification of the real situation. After all, most game developers are creating games that they think people would want to play, and they are also trying their best to tell other people about their games. Yet we still see video games fail to reach success plenty of times. So what exactly went wrong? Is the mantra above not enough? To figure out how to achieve success in game development, let’s take a look at that statement and examine it further.

“Create a game that people want and make sure people know about the game.” This sentence contains the three ingredients for success:

  1. Game creation
  2. People’s demand
  3. Game discovery

The last component is much more related to marketing and is not in the scope of this post, so we won’t cover that one here. But, what about the other two?

Game creation is about developing a functioning game that actually works as intended. A video game is a complex product that combines various fields of study, so getting the whole package to actually work together is already a feat in itself. Meanwhile, generating demand is about the entertainment factor of the game and how much people enjoy the product. Unlike the other aspect, this one is much more subjective, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be methodical about it.

Creating a game: Flexibility and Efficiency

Let’s start with the creation aspect, mainly the coding part of game development. Game development is a branch of software development, so most of the best practices of software development can also be applied when we develop a video game. These practices include stuff like keeping the code simple, following the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle, or separating the user interface from the application logic.

That said, the goal of those development practices is to create working software with as few errors as possible. While we do want our games to be bug-free as well, there are also other things that we want our game software to be: flexible and efficient.

A game project is a bit different from your usual software project. In a software project, the basic features of the software usually won’t deviate too much from the initial design. However, in a game project, it is very common to add a brand new feature or drastically alter an existing feature because the game was found to not be fun during a test play. Having a codebase that can easily accommodate these changes is a really big boon to the game project.

A lot of times, software development doesn’t really have to worry about their end user not having enough processing power or memory to run the software. Meanwhile, video games usually need to squeeze every last bit of power from the user’s device to make sure the game can run without a hitch. While this doesn’t mean that every single calculation needs to be optimized, performance is something that needs to be constantly considered when you are developing video games.

People’s demand: Entertainment Value

Now let’s switch to the other aspect for achieving success in game development: entertainment value. Do keep in mind that “entertainment” cannot simply be equated with “fun” or “happy,” because being challenged or stressed can also be entertaining, especially if we get to overcome that challenge later on.

However, for people who can’t find the fun aspect in being stressed, those kinds of games may hold no entertainment value whatsoever. And therein lies the biggest problem of creating fun games: different people have different ideas of what equates to fun. What the developer thinks will be fun may not actually be fun at all for the players.

Of course, you can always do some play tests and figure out yourself if your game is fun or not. But being so close to the development could sometimes impair your judgement and cause you to not see an actual issue with the game. That’s why you should play test your game on third parties.

The sooner this play test is done, the better. After all, it is very important to figure out whether your game is fun or not as soon as possible. Because if you found out that your game isn’t really fun for players, then you clearly have to change features in your game to make it more entertaining. Just remember that changing features when your game is fully coded can be a nightmare, because it could easily break or alter other features. And that’s another reason for doing your play test early, so if you need to make changes to the game, you can do it while the codebase is still simple.

There are many factors that you must consider to succeed in game development. So far we’ve discussed coding and the fun factor, but there are other aspects that determine the success of your game as well, including: art, writing, and sound design. But for now, the first two factors provide a good starting point. Good luck with your game development!

About the Author

Raka Mahesa is a game developer at Chocoarts (http://chocoarts.com/), who is interested in digital technology in general. Outside of work hours, he likes to work on his own projects, with Corridoom VR being his latest released game. Raka also regularly tweets as @legacy99.


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