The right way round?September 6th, 2007 by Ben
One of the challenges for small game development teams must be division of labor. Your standard team might include a programmer, an artist, an animator, and a game designer. If you’re lucky, you’ll even have a writer (though most big-budget titles don’t even seem to have those). But, as with any small team, there is likely to be some crossover in roles, particularly as deadlines approach.
Seems easy enough, but what if your team only includes one or two people? The first thing you would probably say is, “Don’t waste your time on an epic RPG.” We already know people like me would ignore that, so the question becomes, “Where do you start?”
You could start anywhere, really. Obviously you need a concept and a premise. Then you could work on character designs, level designs, concept art. The right thing to do would be to write up a formal design document to force yourself to think through all your major design decisions.
My answer: gameplay programming. This is odd to me, since I am not a programmer by training, or even by interest, really. So why would I treat it as the starting point for my game? Structure.
The way I see it, concentrating first on programming lets me create a functional skeleton for the game. Once that is in place, I can begin replacing placeholder elements, like my blue box man, with more–interesting–objects. I think of it like the outline of a paper. Once the structure is in place, the real creative work can begin.
Is this the right way round? Who knows, but it makes sense to me, and in a team of two with no deadlines, that’s all that matters.