I hope you love your computer, because at this point, you two should be VERY close. And I’m not talking about you snuggling up with some porn, either. This next part of making your first game, you will be making final edits and updates to your game document, creating sprite placeholders, coding classes, and getting your first playable version of your game out.
Your video game document should be pretty close to completion, at this point. All that should be left are getting some concept sketches placed, your level layouts, and the game playthrough. When you start to ad these things, you will update the version number of your game document and give a short description on what you updated. You don’t need to do all the updates at once, and nor should you.
Your Game Document
Your game document probably won’t be completely finished until your game is way into its Beta phase (an almost complete game), but by the time you finish the Alpha phase and have your demo ready, you will need to have a presentable game document. A presentable game document will have finished concept sketches, level layouts, character description, etc., for anything that will be in your demo. When you present this to publishers, or if you want to submit your game to a contest or award of some sort, having this game document can make all the difference.
Now, in the beginning part of the Alpha phase, you don’t need fully animated in-game images. You will create simple placeholders, and name them accordingly. Your filing structure is up to you, but I would suggest keeping object sprites, character sprites, and any other sprites you will need, in a hierarchy style filing system. It just makes all of your reference files and final images easier to find when you’re ready to place them into the game document, and / or code them into the game.
Your Game Demo
Once you get some of the coding started, and have around 1/3 to 1/2 of your demo completed, you should start to get some of the final sprites in place. Once you have about 1/2 of the demo completed, you will need to test your sprites to make sure collision, alphas, and any other elements that are in your game respond to the player interaction correctly.
When the demo is, or is near completion all of the sprites being used for the demo should be complete. Placeholders are only there to help you get your code in place, and allowing you to get ready to test the sprites to make sure they respond correctly.
The next part is the coding portion. By the time you reach the beginning of your Alpha phase, you are no longer in the “idea” part of Pre-developing your game. You should know which console, PC, handheld, or etc. you will be making your first release of your indie video game on. For my game I have chosen the PC and XBox Live Arcade, because the genre of people I will be focusing the game content on are more likely to use these two “consoles” to purchase their games.
As an Indie Game Developer you are making the game because you want to, and in the end you are going to do whatever you want, but if you want more people to see your work, I would suggest doing a little research on the style of game you are making and focus on making it for the console or consoles that your customers are more likely to use.
Your Game and Your Engine
You will also need to decide what Engine you will be coding in, or if you are going to be working with another person, figure out what will work best for you both. For myself, I can both code and do the art, so I will be doing most of the work on the design for the game, and using my friends and family for second opinions and testing. I would suggest using Object Oriented Programming (OOS), since most languages are OOS, and if you need to learn another language, you can easily make the switch.
I have, and always will be an artist first and a programmer second. I taught myself how to do programming back in 2006 by learning Action Script 3.0 in Adobe Flash. For an artist, it is an easy way to learn and visually see how OOS works, so now when I code in C# with a game engine, I already understand how it works and don’t necessarily need the visual aid that Flash offers.
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