I recently attended a public lecture at my university where (Van) Vannasouk Phadilok & Scott Modra were also once students. They described some of the important lessons they learnt whilst studying at SAE, what they are currently doing since leaving SAE, some things they’ve learnt along the way and also bestow some knowledge about game development.
Van is the designer, and Scott is the programmer of their own game developing company GameSage Productions. They are contractors who make games for other companies.
Without regurgitating their entire presentation – The most important things that I took away from the public lecture were:
Comment Your Code
It could be months – It could be years before you look at an old project. In the process of writing code – comment it for later, you might think “I’ll remember what this does”, but you won’t.
http://grapefrukt.com/f/games/juicy-breakout/ — This is the game to the video below.
Add game juiciness! Juiciness – in short – are the special parts of the game that make it not boring. From screen shake to sounds to particle effects. Juiciness is a strong form of feedback, the difference between understanding and knowing when and why something happens, or it doesn’t.
Learn From Mistakes
Almost self-explanatory. Have you ever tripped over your own feet? I’m sure you have, I hope. Don’t make the same mistake over and over again, learn from it. Understand why it was a mistake but also pick apart the good things about it.
Always Make Stuff
Continue making stuff, even when it’s not for an assignment or to get paid. Cement the knowledge of a new skill you’ve just acquired. You can’t improve if there’s no practice involved.
Don’t be afraid to explore an idea. It could be good, it could be bad. It could stem to something mind-blowing. It can also be a part of “Always Make Stuff“.
Avoid Feature Creep, Keep Small Scope, Know Limitations & Set Deadlines
I compressed these four into one because I feel that they go hand in hand. Set limitations and boundaries.
“Oh this is a good idea, ill just add this”.
“Oh this is a good idea, ill just add this too”.
“Oh this is a great idea, ill just add this”.
Stop yourself from going off into a tangent of forever expanding ideas that end up being one big pile of goo. Utilize each of these new ideas that would completely take you off into a new direction and make it a project of its own!
Share Ideas, Share Skills
We are all in this together, better ourselves as a community, not as a single person.
Go to Game Jams
It’s a great way to combine all of the above mentioned. It’s also a great way to meet new people, make friends and connections.
Make Friends and Connections!
Which I think is the most important of all. Even through my own studies I couldn’t agree more. Being in the same environment with like-minded people get’s my creative juices flowing. I like to think that I’ve started to make life long friends, whether we head the same direction or not, it will be part of my game development web. Look at Van and Scott – They started a company together.
And last but not least:
Try Different Engines
Scott and Van spoke about adapting to the market and expanding their own knowledge and skill set while they get to learn and create so many different things on different platforms. For them it led to different connections or contracts. But for me, I think it will just help me be a better well-rounded game developer at the moment. This one I’ve already put into action.
In my next big slot of free time I’m going to fiddle around with the unreal engine. But I’ve already made some music using Mulab. Read about it in another blog post.
Thanks Van and Scott for your wisdom.
Until next time –