Ignoring pre-production in games dev is like 'knitting a jumper without a pattern', says Lady Shotgun

Provides stability and flexibility

Ignoring pre-production in games dev is like 'knitting a jumper without a pattern', says Lady Shotgun
Lady Shotgun Games has taken to its blog to extol the virtues of pre-production in games development, entreating designers to convert their early enthusiasm for a project into useful design documentation.

The firm broadly classifies pre-production - as least in a design sense - as "preparing a lot of documentation" such as both full game and high level design documents, a character and enemy list, a code backlog and an asset list, and a game flow chart for every screen required by the game.

It's an approach that can be overlooked by many studios, but one Lady Shotgun believes allow design production on a title to motor on nicely, safe in knowledge decisions as to how the game's overlapping systems will interact have been taken.

Flexible but firm

The firm argues a solid plan should always flexible enough to allow for changes, however.

Lady Shotgun notes pre-production work is "not some precious bible which must be followed at all costs, but a blue print for a prototype which will need to be tweaked and improved upon before the final product is produced. "

In fact, the stability pre-production provides actually makes any shifts made during the production phase easier to handle.

"When issues present themselves with the playability of the game, which they will, I personally find it much easier to assess which bits are not working and need changing if I have a clear vision of how all the parts of the game work with and riff off each other, and also easier to calculate the impact of any changes," the studio says in the entry.

Power of planning

"My suggestion for designers then - and especially designers on small teams who may well taking on other tasks during production - is to harness that initial energy and enthusiasm for the game during a pre-production phase to work out as much of the game as possible for yourself, in whatever way works for you best, and then get it down on paper in a way that's easy to find specific information."

That way, the developer claims, even when you're halfway through a project, and you're tired and unmotivated, "you'll still be able to get on with your tasks and provide the coders and artists with the specific answers they need when they need them."

The advice is just the first part of a wider piece on the power of pre-production, with Lady Shotgun claiming ignoring pre-production in its releases would be "like trying to knit a jumper without a pattern or build a house without an architectural plan."

[source: Lady Shotgun]
Staff Writer's news editor 2012-2013


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