Production Bites: How to Know Which Features to Put in Your Project

Production Bites: How to Know Which Features to Put in Your Project

Fact: everyone wants everything. Probably unless you’re a monk living on some mountain and you’re sworn to let go of all wants.

We game developers are not monks (I actually play mage). We are mere mortals who want to create an awesome product. Our product is our baby, our invention, our masterpiece. Of course, awesome is subjective. The problem arises when everyone wants to put their not-so-little-bit of awesome into the game.

We have this saying in the office when we talk as producers, that when you’re a producer, you’re always the “bad guy”. It sucks because it’s our job to stop people from putting everything inside the project. Putting too much into a project is like having a pizza with too much toppings that may not work together. Not to mention, it might take hours to cook. As a producer, you have to select which crazy features to put inside a product and which to leave out. This makes you the bad guy because one way or another, you’ll have to JUST SAY NO… with the right reasons of course.

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There are three main things to consider in game development: schedule, cost, and quality. Each falls in one end of a three way scale. For each new feature to be added, there’s a corresponding development time involved and a corresponding cost. Sometimes, developers, artists, and designers do not understand this, and still magically try to force their crazy features into the game. Sometimes it’s not even the team members  who want to put the crazy features in, but the product owners themselves.

During the pre-production phase of Spellstrike, there were four of us in the team and we wanted to create a whole world; our own Arda (Middle-earth is just part of it). We got carried away and almost ended up with ten different races. One of which was even a whale race. It was crazy because each race will need its own country, its own history, a set of environment concept art, a set of character concept art in both male and female, character asset designs, character animations, character voices, etc. Coming up with all these races worried us to death. We saw the schedule, the cost, and the amount of people we needed to hire. We then realized that we aren’t even building an MMO, why should we make so much countries and races? We cut down to five races, and our problems ended… at least for that day.

The important thing in game production is to know your goal and make sure you achieve it. In any product, there should be a goal: the product’s purpose. As a producer, one must look at the big picture and see whether the team has achieved the goal or whether the current game is heading towards that goal. Every time someone wants to put in a new feature, ask yourself: “Does this feature contribute to our goal?”. This way it will be easier to say: “We can’t put that feature in.” or “This is a great feature to add!”

Stay tuned for more Production Bites! Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @spellstrike!

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