Game dev coffee chat

From ideas into actions: the development process

The holiday season is now behind us. After a bit too much chocolate and sine well-intended New Year’s resolutions, we at Brakesoft are finally back in action and ready to bring you a new Game Dev Coffee Chat post about the development process.

In the last Game Dev Coffee Chat post, we discussed the innovation process and shared some of our early game concepts. It was truly a walk down the memory lane for us, one which made us realize how far we have actually come. We wanted to extend our trip to the past and thus, we wanted to share some more stories from the early development process.

Taking the first steps

 

In the last post, we mentioned how almost without us noticing the early innovation phase gradually morphed into a development phase. Hence, there’s no clear moment we can say that our innovation process ended and the actual development phase started. Instead, the two phases were interlinked, connected into each other until the line between development and innovation blurred. Innovation seeped long into the development process as we learned more about the game we wanted to make.

This dynamic relationship between innovation and development has both aided us as well as hindered us. However, confidently we can state that testing the old boundaries and dreaming about new features won’t ever go to waste. Game development is about constantly challenging oneself and seeking progression. And how else can progression be achieved if not by staying open-minded and curious.

The early development

As the development phase rolled in full throttle, it was finally time for us to look at our project management properly. As a result, we finally introduced our project management actions. We created the initial schedule, as well as created various documents ranging from game design to art, to coding and marketing. We had multiple virtual meetings each week alongside maintaining constant communication over Slack.

These team meetings allowed us to understand better what each member was currently working on, if they required help and what would be their next task. Additionally, these weekly meetings also provided us with an opportunity to share our knowledge and continue further brainstorming.

As in most cases, the early development phase is often categorized with constant achievements and results. Day by day, we made tremendous progress with Swift: Galaxy Trails. This is mainly thanks to our talented artists, who relentlessly provided new concept arts for the characters, costumes and assets.

This steady progress heightened our spirits, motivating us forward. During this time, we were still confident that we would meet our initial summer deadline. We had big plans for the game, and we were bursting with ideas for all the different features we wanted to see implemented in Swift: Galaxy Trails. Some of these earlier desired features included multiple playable characters with various costumes and weapons. We also wanted to provide a deeper dive to the world of Swift by having several full-length planets waiting to be explored. Additionally, we planned to have multiple different routes in one map area, with some hidden secrets stashed in the shadows.

Eventually we came to realize that the game we had initially planned to release would require more resources than what we had at hand. Thus, the early problems in the development were born.

The development slows down

As it can be seen, our initial planning and innovation phase was quite short, lasting only up to a few weeks. This meant that we were able to start the development rather quickly. This flexibility allowed us to introduce various key features as we progressed with Swift: Galaxy Trails. Due to this, our development space was notably quick during the very first months. However, because we designed the game as we developed it, the development naturally eventually fell behind.

For us at Brakesoft, the developing process has been a mixture of cross-functional works. After the fast start, much of the following development process was actually spent researching the market, the genre, the competition and the trends. During this time, our actual game development and progress slowed down.

Similarly to an avalanche, seemingly tiny matters started snowballing into larger issues. The coders needed to wait longer for the 3D assets to be ready for implementation. The artists on the other hand had to wait longer for the game design elements to be decided, while the marketing team was researching and proposing different value enhancing features. Naturally, what followed was an information overflow, which stretched our small team in separate ways as we all tried to fulfill our roles.

During this time, our project management started to fall behind as well. We no longer had time to actively update the game design document, nor did we have to stay up to date with what each member was currently working on. For instance, this meant that while during the early stages everybody had had an equal understanding of the game and its scope, now this information was fragmented.

As a result, only the marketing team knew what was happening on the marketing and business side. Similarly, the artists were the only people fully aware of the new art decisions and how pressured they were timewise. Moreover, the coders were left with limited information regarding the features they were supposed to implement. Understandably, the falling of communication and clear unity placed an immense amount of stress on our game designer, who needed to stay on top of everything.

All of these issues played a role in why we missed our preliminary summer deadline. However, if we Finns are known for one thing, it is our sisu or guts (for those who don’t speak Finnish). And we weren’t about to give up.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, where we’ll share how we pushed past after missing our summer deadline. 

Please check our first promo of the game in here: Swift:Galaxy Trails First Promo

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