More Information About Me

Simeon Peebler started out in the early 1980s programming his Commodore 64 and making his own games and music when he should have been doing "more appropriate" things. Flash forward to the present day; after years in game development and technology, he works as a game designer and programmer and has been working the last few years in teaching game design and game development at a leading digital arts college in Chicago Tribeca Flashpoint Academy In 2011, Simeon created Brain Bump, a trivia game for the Amazon Kindle. He also has been working on composing original music and songwriting (go to his songwriting site and hear his latest album).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Do it Right, Do it Simple

In our final Year One Game Project Production course at Flashpoint Academy, two game teams are building up for a sprint to the finish. Time is short. Resources are limited. Critical design and planning decisions are in progress right now. Can everyone pull it off? The student team leads are kicking into gear under faculty guidance to make things happen, and work on the next big milestone is under way.

There are some really invaluable pieces of advice your new game team should keep in mind, and it is truly important for our students to follow these points as they work on these final year one projects in our game studio.

1. Keep it simple.

Why keep the game simple? Well, the reasons for keeping it simple mostly point to limiting production risks and alternatively potentially making the game more accessible and possibly more fun (and then...more successful, and maybe even complete). Production risks can include getting in over your head in terms of how much time it will take to complete various tasks along the way both in the creation of assets and in the development of technology. Further, it is easy to get "ambitious" in the creative process without a real market need for features or eye candy or to serve the core of the product's unique selling advantage. This can often times only be assessed after considerable work has been done on a game, after which point it might be too late to fix major problems or reach the deadlines.

2. Remove production bottlenecks.

Some main issues here center on management and technology. Appropriate delegation of tasks and oversight really make a huge difference in the efficiency of various teams. Big projects require lots of hands in the mix. They all have to work together and use the tools in concert. This means that everyone needs to be on the same page, and people need to promote the utmost in mature communication and professionalism. On the technology fronts, it is key to make game content data driven. With small projects and inexperienced developers, this is often a critical point of failure, usually leading to people saying, "Oh, we have to wait for the programmer...again." When fifteen people are waiting for one person to get something done, that is NOT good. Plus, most game teams have or require people to be dynamic and willing to do more than one particular thing. Pitching in as much as possible on the critical tasks at hand wherever they exist as directed by the team leads is a normal process in game studios. When team leads don't do their job, express your concerns to others in a positive and appropriate manner. Your feedback may prove helpful to everyone.

3. Work hard and make the deadlines.

Okay, this seems like a simple piece of advice. But here's what you must do: Listen. Take notes. Prioritize. Focus. Complete the tasks. Review the work. Communicate and collaborate (don't just make random decisions on your own -- check with your team or you manager! Chances are you can use some advice on how to tackle things, especially the first time).

So, in short, remember these three words and it will help you along the way:


Good luck teams!