Marc and I have been talking about game pre-production, project management and our immediate goals. Right now those goals are:
- Produce a complete game for deployment online and/or on iPhone.
- Work to our strengths – Marc’s, Justin’s and Unity’s strengths.
- Make it polished, but do it quickly.
If we are going to succeed then our guiding principle must be to keep it simple. Keeping things simple works on many levels.
Casual games are played on the spur of the moment, usually in small intervals. To succeed the game must be easy for the user to understand. Both the object of the game and its controls need to be simple and intuitive.
The target platform will be the iPhone and web browser player. These platforms have limited capacity both in terms of file/download size and computing power. Game assets and logic need to be kept small and simple not to over-tax the platform.
Casual games, with their need to be intuitive and light, benefit greatly from an iterative development cycle. Assemble the barest minimum game-play needed for the game then test, test and test some more. When new features are added to this minimalist build they then need justify their inclusion through testing. Starting simple allows us to get to testing early and often.
Finally, as a very small team working in spare time the scope of the project has to be something that can be realistically completed in the time we have. The time we have is however long our enthusiasm lasts.
Here are soem other people’s thoughts on casual games and agile development:
- Jacob Williams’ post mortem of Maze Shifter, his first iPhone game.
- Tom Higgins’ Casual Games as a business – I think you have to take the examples of money made with casual games with a large grain of salt, but the points on what makes a good casual game is gold.
- 37signal’s Getting Real ebook – They are writing about creating web applications, but their philosophy of agile, user-centered development is a good fit for indie game development.