Okay so recently I decided to work on my game development and design skills. I have a horde of unfinished projects on my hard drive. I have learned so much from working on each and everyone of them, except how to get better at finishing the game. I want to fix this so I decided to take a different approach than anything I had ever done before. I decided to start by making a finished game.
Let me explain what I mean. On my current project I did something completely different than before. I made the most simple version of the finished game as quickly as I could. Not a prototype but an actual finished game...not a good game but a finished from start to end game. You start at the main menu, enter the game, reach a goal get the win screen or die and get the game over screen. It's simple but the from the point of view from the player it is a completable game. All in all it took my 4 hours and gave me something I can look at and make decisions on. Its kind of like when an artist starts with a blank canvas the first thing they do is get rid of all the white so they can start putting things in and making decisions on what is there. I wanted to get something to look at from the point of view of the player as soon as possible and keep it in this finished state during the entire development cycle.
This way I have a complete view of the entire game at all times. I have my start and finish states and now as I add to the game I have a better idea where things need to go and what needs to be added next. Increase in scope or feature creep is now easier to control because they become part of the design process. If you have ever worked on a game or any creative project you know that things change as you work. Instead of fighting this why not find ways to use it to make something better. When you can view the entire project as a completed game it is easier to look at it and find ways to make it better right then and there then to think of solving hypothetical situations of gameplay you can't see yet. We have all reached the end of a project and thought about all the things we could do to make it better now that it is done but there just isn't enough time to change or polish it. Well the idea is to get you to that point as quickly as possible and keep you there for the course of development.
That is the key to this way of working. The game must always be in a completed state at all times. What this forces me to do is keep me focused on bite sized chunks that improve the game and are quick to implement from start to finish. Since the entire game is structured I can easily see where things should be placed. It is kind of like building a sandwich the bread is the completed game and the new bits I add are the meat and veggies each new layer making the sandwich bigger and tastier. Now this is all just my own opinion and one that I have found helpful to keep me focused on the right things. Not everyone will find this useful and most will probably think it is the dumbest thing they have ever read, but there might be one person out there like that this clicks with and to that person I say give it a shot you might have fun.
I'll post again in a week or two after I have done some more work like this and give an update on my experience.
All the best!