The scope of a video game project

Spanish version here.

When we talk about videogame development, we often read that the rate of project abandonment is very high. And it’s true; developing a videogame is about putting forward a basic and fundamental concept: it is a computer project that requires many hours of work, dedication, effort and sacrifice. To carry out a video game until it is complete, and that this video game has a sufficient appearance and quality to attract the public is a very complex task.

There are many people who believe that a videogame is to prepare a small project in a few days, often based on prototypes, give it some personal touches, upload it to Steam, and start making money. You’re obviously wrong. That’s why we can see the huge number of projects that are published on Steam, and that are immediately forgotten. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to create a game that is fun, attractive, with the right functionality, and with enough marketing to be seen among the many games that are published every day. Creating a game in two weeks that is based on a prototype or an example taken from the Internet is not making video games, it is wanting to take advantage of an opportunity to earn some money. And Steam’s audience knows it.


However, there are other video game programmers who suffer from the opposite problem. They are ambitious people, who want to create the best game. And that’s a good thing. But they have a problem: they don’t know how to calculate or measure the limits of the game. They fall in love with a project, and start to expand it more and more, adding more and more features, until the game overwhelms them, and they lose control.

It is these types of programmers who are worth considering and who should be followed. But you have to be careful: IT projects tend to grow constantly. We are ambitious, we have illusions, and we want our game to be admired by everyone. It’s normal, it’s logical. But we must also be aware of our limitations. We don’t have millionaire budgets, or teams of dozens of programmers, designers, sound engineers, etc. Normally we are alone, or we have the help of some of our colleagues. We would like to imitate the great productions, but we must be aware that this is impossible.

What must we do to avoid such an outpouring of ideas? Before we start programming, before we start designing, before we start any other action, we will have to translate in a document the scope and limits of our project. That is to say, we will have to indicate which elements our project will contain. We will make a list by categories, add an explanation that details each point based on its content, and create a conceptual sketch with all the characteristics of our game.

But the ideas are relentless, and we will come up with new possibilities. That’s a good thing. But it’s very dangerous. If we add ideas to the project, it will not stop growing, and we will never finish. Therefore, we will create another document with ideas that will be added once the first document is completed, and the game is released. This second document will have a number of points. You must add a version associated with the game to each point. Thus, when version 1.0 is released, version 1.1 will be a new functionality thought out beforehand. 1.2 will be next on the list, etc. In the end, the game will have everything you wanted it to have, but it has done so in an organized and harmonious way.

The scope and limits of a project are fundamental. If there are no limits, there is no end. And the project, as good as it is, will end up forgotten and you frustrated. Don’t allow it. Organize your ideas, and work according to your possibilities. And work every day and constantly. This will give you a chance to succeed.



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