Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Hey Classy Bogan Community,
Today's 'Dev Update' is on the topic of 'Planning and PreProduction'!
The Pre-Production phase is often one that is overlooked by developers but a solid production plan and documentation can make or break a project. When it comes to our projects here at Classy Bogan Studios, we are no exception.
When a new project comes our way its important that all members of a project from the development team to the clients we interact with all share the same vision and that is where pre-production comes in.
Before we start any project its important to have a few things crystal clear in the documentation.
First, a detailed walk through of the project, personally we like to write this in a detailed paragraph and then later, as dot points so that the experience we are creating is clear and thorough so that everyone on the dev team is sharing the same vision as well as making things easier to discuss with the client as they can see your vision and better guide it in the direction they want to go.
Once this section of the documentation has been finalized it makes all further stages of development much easier to keep on track along with giving the team something to compare the final product to in order to make sure you've 'hit the mark'
The second thing you will want to add to your documentation is a detailed page explaining what kind feedback a player will be receiving for each action they undergo within a game, for example what happens when the player presses the trigger button, does a hand model close into a fist? does it point?, is there an explosion? does the UI of the game change or shake? this may be a little bit difficult to find out what needs feedback and what doesn't at first glance (hint: there shouldn't be anything where you sit back and say "I don't think that will need feedback"), this is the stage of development where your first lot of testing should take place.
What we like to do is take someone completely unrelated to the project and role play the experience as much as we possibly can, we generally do this by simply talking someone step by step through the experience, explaining what they see and listening to how they would react and using that data to see what actions they will try most and tailoring our feedback around that.
Once you have a rough idea as to what feedback the player will be receiving for their actions its now time to start preparing a first pass at your asset list, when creating an asset list it is super important to be recording how long it is going to take for each asset to be created, this includes 3D models (which i like to split into the different stages of the art pipeline: HighPoly, LowPoly, Texturing, rigging, animating and getting a time for each), Scripts (I personally like to write out my scripts in pseudo code before a project starts so i can get a rough idea of the logic to better inform my time estimate), and special effects (these are often overlooked, if there is something in your feedback section that isn't in your asset list, your asset list needs updating).
With your asset list it is always good to give yourself a safety net, if you are pretty sure you can complete something in 2 days, give yourself 3, its important to account for at least one thing going wrong with every asset, since more often then not something most definitely will.
The fourth section to your pre-planning documentation should be a definitive timeline to make it clear to not only the dev team but also to your client what stage the project should be at, at any point in time during the development cycle, once again give yourself wiggle room where ever possible when estimating time as anything that can go wrong will.
and finally make sure to be adding contingency plans for your dev team to fall back on if you are ahead or behind schedule, this helps a lot, trust me.