If I learned something from my college years of computer science, it is to have a design stage before every project. There are many kinds of different design patterns, and it is up to you to chose any of them; however it is essential to have this stage.
Since my programming projects and assignments in the school were quite easy for me to make, I’d often skip that stage and finish them quickly, only because I exactly knew what I need to do. However that changed with White Night.
When I was making White Night, my design stage was quite short and unpolished; and my haste resulted not only with wasted time of reworked levels and scripts, but also I had many game design mistakes in the resulted product. Regardless of being the best single player mod of 2011, White Night was an experiment, and I learned a lot from it. Especially to have a nice and long design stage.
I have postponed two projects since that time. One of them is Reflections, which I am sure many people think is dead. It is better that way because I don’t want anyone to lose interest in such a great project which is yet to see the light of day. Other one is never announced in any way. Their design stage is taking quite a time and since I realized that I couldn’t make them with current resources and team, I just postponed them and started with a new project.
I knew this one was gonna be short and average, I just kept working on its design. I told my team members to not proceed with levels, music or models; but just think on the game as how it would look, sound, play and feel. Since this was a commercial project, I ended up being dissatisfied with my current plan and looked for different ways to make it better.
Deadline to start building the game was at the beginning of February, yet I postponed that date and continued to work on the story and other elements. It grew, became better; but I never ceased to feel dissatisfied. Then, a few days ago I took a turn, I threw away everything I have done to this day, and opened a new page.
I was going to start from scratch. But I did it anyway.
After a day of thinking, I sat down with a team member and talked about my new idea. It turned out that he wasn’t satisfied with the former plan either; and supported my decision. After a long talk, we have decided on many new things and we perfectly placed it over the old mainframe. Starting scene and some of the game mechanics remained same, but it was something new and different. Needlessly say, much better.
If I were to keep design stage short, go for the palpable things with haste, I’d end up with having a bad design. I’m not sure what would have happened to assets we were going to create, but I don’t want to imagine the resulted product.
Long story short, if you are a game designer or willing to be one, keep the design stage long, very long.
If you are someone (unlikely) that looks forward to my next game, well, you’ll have to wait because of the things I explained above, but it will be worth it.
And you’ll have sleeping problems, like our protagonist does :3