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Best Practice: Leading a Project

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Estimated reading time: 2 min

Purpose

This document outlines certain practices, activities, and behaviors that can lead to a successful project and smoother development.

Communication

Frequent communication between team members is necessary for a healthy project. Developers should communicate daily about what they are doing or if they have questions. Designers should be clear about how systems and content works or should be implemented.

Communication should also be professional and courteous. We’re all on the same team, and projects go better when there is mutual respect and accountability.

Action Items

  • Sign on and off every day on Slack
  • Always speak up if you have a question
  • Be kind and respectful to others

Playtesting, Iteration, and Refinement

Design documents are often made in a vacuum. While designers can research and plan to the best of their abilities, often a feature or system cannot be perfected until it is implemented and then polished. 

Every part of the game – whether it is art, game feel, and so on – is optimized through game play. Refining things is easiest with a controller in hand, and the game on screen.

Frequent builds can help with this refinement and polish process. Designers can play builds and tweak variables as each new feature or piece of content is added. This prevents long delays in development where the developer may have to polish and refine many systems or pieces of content.

Action Items

  • Send frequent builds
  • Take an active role in polishing and refinement

Documentation

Developers require sufficient design documents in order to create the game. Documentation should be thorough, clear, and organized. They should also be reviewed by other team members, like an art director or lead developer, before being submitted to a developer.

Documents should be sent as Google Docs with editing access enabled, so that there is a minimum of passwords etc and the doc is living, shareable, and accessible for all.

An Index or “table of contents” for a project is supremely useful for organizing docs and ensuring that devs are not without the information they need.

Design documents should also be actionable for the person they are delivered to. For example, providing detailed descriptions and visual references for an enemy’s physical design might not be very useful for a dev, while such things are required for an artist. Often, it is best to have multiple docs for the same subject, containing only relevant information of the recipient of the document.

As mentioned, many times design documents are a designer’s “best guess,” and will need refined through gameplay, even after being reviewed by a lead developer or art director.

Action Items

  • Be thorough and clear
  • Use an Index
  • Use Google Docs
  • Make docs actionable
  • Have docs reviewed by other team members
  • Provide extra detail as necessary
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