Design Pitfalls

Hello and welcome to the first in my tutorial series!

Today I am going to talk about something very important for when it comes to making games, or even really creating anything, pitfalls. When it comes to doing anything creative, there are universal traps that are easy to fall in, making it hard to create what you dream of. As long as you are aware of these pitfalls and try to work around them, it’ll make the rest of the process that much more manageable. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Ambition

When it comes to creative ventures, it is easy to dream of this grand masterpiece that has all the bells and whistles possible. When it comes to games, this is especially true. Due to video games being a medium that has a wide range of skills needed to make it work, the barrier for creating a dream masterpiece is a little higher. What I have noticed both for myself and my peers in the same program I am in is that they immediately jump to these grand ideas for games they want to make. While it is good to have some sort of ambition, the amount of time and effort required to make these dream games come true, it quickly can be overwhelming for a novice. With this being the case, it’s important to start small and expand off of the basics.

Limitations

Ambition goes hand-in-hand with limitations. Currently, I am working on a project where my team is making a game in Unreal Engine. We spent the first day just talking about ideas for what we wanted out game to be and where to go from there. There were some great ideas that came about from the discussion, however, what we can actually do in the time allotted for the project will heavily influence what the final project is. Knowing where are skills are currently, we broke the ideas into base mechanics and stretch goals. By doing this, it will give us more reasonable goals to work towards and, at the very least, we know we will have something that works. Something that works is very important because even if it isn’t polished and ready to be released, the goal is to make a game and apply the concepts we have learned to our own project.

Deadlines

As mentioned above, I am currently working on a project in Unreal Engine where we make a game using the knowledge we have gained over the semester. As part of the beginning process, we set up a Game Design Document that sets out our deadlines for the rest of the semester. These deadlines are very important not only for school projects but also projects that you will work on for a studio or your own independent projects. As I have learned from my own experience and hearing from the experience of professors, deadlines can make or break a career. You can be the best at drawing up concept art, but if your work isn’t done on time, companies will be less likely to keep you around as someone who may have slightly less skill but can get things in on time.

Knowledge/Impatience

Being in a game design program at university, I am surrounded by other people who want to do the same thing. One thing that I notice more than anything is how often people want to show how much they know about something. This happens so much to the point that I have witnessed people blurting out things that aren’t relevant because they want to show off what they know about a topic. Additionally, this goes into impatience as well because I have also heard people talking down to professors for not teaching what they think is ‘useful’. Most of the time, these are the basic concepts of an engine or basic components for controlling characters or other simple mechanics. This creates the problem of overlooking the importance of the basics and then not knowing how to do more advanced things. Experiences like that are what motivates me to make tutorials focused on the basics so that people can learn and build instead of being handed the end product.

Creative Block/Planning

Anyone who has ever created anything has probably hit a point in which they come up with such a grand idea and started working on it. Then, at some random point later, the steam runs out and they are at a loss on what to do next. The creative block can be extremely difficult to get over until you’re hit again by the creative bug. My number one tip for overcoming this is planning. If you keep your ideas planned out and documented, whenever you hit a point where you aren’t sure where to go, take a step back and go through what you have up to that point. There may be something you missed or want to further expand upon, which can spark other ideas. Additionally, in the case of games, you can start working on certain systems to give your brain a break and, hopefully, when you finish doing more technical work, some creativity may be restored. If all else fails, take a break and find inspiration in other works or the world around you.

The previous points are what I believe to be some of the most important aspects to be mindful of when creating anything, especially games. From observing others in my major, I can see that they can be easily overlooked. So before getting into anything specifically tutorial wise, the fundamentals are what drive everything else that can be learned regardless of the topic. Again, as a student, I am interested in learning and developing my skills while also sharing what I learn in order to help others maybe view things in a different light.

I know this was a longer post, but if you made it to the end, thank you for reading! Feel free to comment below if you have any other concepts you would like to add to the above or what you would be interested in learning about in the future. Thank you very much and have a great day!

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