GameDev from scratch: getting out of chaos and getting started

    So this day has come when we present the last article from the series “GameDev from scratch”. In it, the team leader and game designer from OVIVO talks about a structural approach to the development of a game project.

    Series of articles "GameDev from scratch"

    1. From the hackathon to his own game development studio: part 1 , part 2 .
    2. Unity3D and vector graphics .
    3. How to communicate with the player without words .
    4. How to get out of chaos and start working .

    Hello! My name is Alexander, I am a team leader and game designer at OVIVO. Today I would like to tell about my experience in managing a small team and share my thoughts on the structure of the development of an indie game: planning a team, when you need to think about marketing, why it is useful to use methodologies and task managers, and dzdok is better in the furnace. I hope novice igrodelov will be interested to read about our experience, and it will help them not to get lost in their endeavors.

    When we organized as a studio and started developing OVIVO, not for the competition, but for real players, I was confronted with the fact that I did not know at all what the development of games consisted of. I did not find suitable articles on this subject, and those that were found were too generalized. I decided not to worry about this issue, but in vain. The next six months of development became chaos for us: we broke the deadlines, wrote some patches instead of stable code, made crooked clips for conferences. In general, it was necessary to structure the process, and mat-mech education helped here and the fact that I, it turns out, did not always sleep at lectures. We have selected suitable management tools for ourselves, developed our own development structure and it has become much easier to work. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the stages of developing a game for small teams or solo developers.

    Indie Development Stages


    Many people write that the first stage of development is the creation of a concept document. It may have been this way before or it is happening in large companies, but now the first stage is the creation of a working prototype, and not the writing of details on a piece of paper. Creating a concept is an extra waste of time, especially when numerous game hackathons and game jams are held. Most indie projects start from there, when prototyping takes 24 hours. In addition, such events are very fun and productive.

    It is important to start this stage as soon as possible in order to test the idea on a real player, get feedback and understand, develop the game further or stop. Many people can go in cycles in thinking about their ideas, wait for months until a suitable thought arrives, but in the end nothing is created and time passes in vain. But now the game industry is developing very rapidly, the amount of content far exceeds demand, and therefore it is important to give your idea a “shell” as quickly as possible.


    It may sound crazy, but the next step after creating the prototype is marketing. I think that many developers unknowingly go to this stage or do not think about it at all, and then get lost in their thoughts.

    Marketing asks extremely important questions for the developer, the answers to which will facilitate his future life and determine the ultimate goal. The first two important questions are why to make the game, and for whom .

    You can skip this step if the game is created for yourself. But then you should not be surprised that no one wants to buy your game, because the main goal that encourages you to play it is clear only to you. If you want to get some money, then you should already decide on the audience, come to terms with some of the needs of your players and learn to convey to them the experience that you want to convey. Having received the answers to the questions asked by marketing at the initial stage of development, it will be easier for you to carry out further planning of the development itself.

    As for the promotion of the game itself, many people think that this stage will be at the very end of development or you can do without it at all. This is what many do, we did, and it was a mistake, because effective promotion should occur throughout all stages of development. It’s worth talking about your game and recruiting the community. The more you recruit potential players before the release, the more likely they are to be talked about. You will attract the attention of the press and YouTube, and in the end you will get more chances for the success of the game.

    Preparation for work

    At this stage, brainstorming takes place, the definition of the main features, the creation of concept art, the preparation of the necessary tools and at least an approximate estimate of the development time.

    The most important thing is to decide on the general vision of the game and to ensure that this vision coincides with all participants in the project. There is an opinion that for this you need to start a design document, but for a small team this is a useless and outdated thing. During the development process, the game will be modified more than once, and no one will re-read each time 20 pages of documentation for new changes. Instead, you can start a small concept document describing the main ideas and features, and scatter a more detailed description for task managers and small notes.

    It is worth immediately deciding on the tools that you will use in the development process, and not scatter working correspondence on all available instant messengers. Think about version control tools. There is a possibility that the work will occur remotely. In this case, I advise you to store the project on a remote repository, and not on the hard drive. And the time spent studying the work with the remote repository is guaranteed to pay off in the future and protect the project from unforeseen circumstances.

    Game development

    It would seem that if there is a clearly constructed plan, then you just need to follow it and everything will be okay. But force majeure can always happen, and you have to get used to it. For example, a cool idea came to mind and, in order to implement it, you need to rewrite the entire existing architecture. Or someone decided to leave the team, and you need to look for a replacement. You decided to take part in a major conference, and you urgently need to prepare a working build, and it falls apart like a house of cards.

    These and many other situations will certainly appear during the development process and delay the release date. Entropy can be minimized if you learn to conduct development in a disciplined manner. This helps the study of project development methodologies.

    The Scrum methodology worked well for us. There was a list of tasks scattered in sprints, and every day we held a rally, discussed current problems, then clapped, and traditionally ate bananas. It was strange, but we studied so, and we liked it. Then we eliminated many Scrum elements as unnecessary, and thereby developed a suitable pace for ourselves. It is enough for the programmer and artist to open the list of tasks and solve them according to the degree of priority. If you have questions or a task requires a general fee, then call the group chat. At the time of writing this article, our team is on different continents, but everyone knows what tasks need to be solved, and one call is enough to coordinate actions.

    During development, you need not be afraid to let third-party people test the game. When only developers are testing, it’s very easy to blur your eyes and forget about what kind of experience a player should get. In many ways, trips to various conferences helped us, where people tried our game and told us their feelings. At a certain stage, we realized that the game goes too hardcore and incomprehensible. Then we got rid of some complex mechanics at the levels and significantly improved the interface.

    Release preparation

    As I said, marketing is what will accompany your game from start to finish. To start working on the active PR of your game and to negotiate with the press and media players is a few months before the release.

    The developer needs to learn how to briefly and clearly talk about the game. This is necessary so that the person to whom the letter is sent with a proposal to review the game immediately understands what is at stake. This is a whole science and it is very well written in the book “Game Marketing” by Sergey Galenkin, famous for his game podcasts. This is a great reference for beginner developers. In it, in a simple and understandable language, it talks about marketing games at all stages of development.

    In pre-release time, in addition to working with the press, it is worth paying special attention to preparing the final build for sale on the sites. Each site has its own rules, SDK and a list of requirements for your game. You need to accept several licensing agreements, gain access to the developer account, prepare a page on the site, translate it into several languages, send the build for verification, get an age rating and so on. All this takes from several weeks to months, depending on which platform you release the game.

    Release date

    At this stage, it will be important to support your product - games without bugs do not come out. It is important not only to quickly fix bugs, but also to promptly answer questions from players and unsubscribe about the results of work on errors. Players are waiting for a quick response, as from support. They need to be sure that their gaming experience and problems are important to you.

    It is worth thinking ahead of upcoming sales and discounts. There is such a practice that many players pirate your game, and then, to clear their conscience, buy it at a big discount. There is no point in fighting piracy, and it’s not really necessary, because this is also a kind of marketing.


    I hope this small guide will help those who, just like us, are faced with the question: "How to approach the development of the game?". Many things come with experience and full of bumps, but the basic theory always facilitates the process of cognition.

    Thanks to the readers and everyone who followed our development and supported us. This is the final article in the series "GameDev from scratch" and a kind of epilogue to our development. For us, this path was long and hard, but damn fascinating and unforgettable.
    Really looking forward to your comment.

    The circle is now complete. (from)

    PS Today we have a release, a link to the game’s page on Steam .

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