Have you stepped on these pits?Independent game producer tells 5 years of blood and tears

Editor’s note Making games is not a simple task. In order to help game developers avoid pitfalls, GWB has launched the “I have been making games for these years” award-winning essay activity. This article is one of the submissions. The author mainly focuses on the overall situation, product, and management. In other aspects, I shared the pits I stepped on and my feelings, hoping to help everyone.

Author: spoon

Water and electricity bills have to be paid again, and property fees have to be paid. The rent is several thousand a month. This is just a house shared with a partner. A small office also needs rent, and it is an expense… Playing games is more about dealing with such small details that may seem inconspicuous but may drag you down, not like what the young Mengxin thinks. Every day I have a chance to play games together. And all this, I had expected it.

Transformed into the game industry in 2016, and it’s been a flash. For me, I haven’t felt that many years have passed. Well, it’s like being in the sky and on the edge of a black hole. It’s a feeling that time will be slowed down.

With the power of the black hole, I, standing in early 2021, quickly handed the following truths to my past self, and the wormhole opened:

Long-term unsatisfactory, there must be reasons

Overall level

  • No reflection
  • No plan
  • Things are too full

Product level

  • No meticulous design products
  • Is there a timely self-test product
  • Release product too late
  • Get too into the details
  • You have fully collected player feedback

Management level

  • No repeated confirmation of requirements
  • Not following the progress every day
  • Don’t wait for someone to leave

Then the story begins, where is the baby’s bench?

1. Transformation game

The business I started to do was in the fields of VR (virtual reality) and GIS (geographic information system). I made a small amount of money in the past few years, which is really small. Customers are also well-known in the industry, such as Yincheng Real Estate, Jiangsu Satellite TV’s most powerful brain program group, a provincial surveying and mapping institute, and so on. Some of the electronic sand table business, and then 3D home improvement, the nature of the company slowly changed.

Until about mid-2016, I looked at the furniture models full of screens in front of the computer and various brochures from the Dongguan Home Improvement Expo. I really felt that I didn’t like these things at all. So, I opened my own little book, which recorded my life inspiration (✪ω✪)!

I integrated the scattered inspirations, so I found that this thing can only be used as a game, otherwise these crazy things are useless at all. Then, in a few minutes, I decided not to do the previous business. Looking at the inspiration I compiled, my heart was very simple at that time: “These things are absolutely awesome, or make a game!” Since then, the company has become Game company!

The big sound is loud, the elephant is invisible, and the big pit is flat.

When playing a game, I just fell into a pit, but thought it was flat. Maybe because it is a huge pit, I mistake it for the ground at the bottom of the pit! The feeling of playing games for these years is similar to what Teacher Liang Ning said. I first saw a mouse’s tail, thinking it was all, and then pulled it out, and saw the mouse’s body. Wow, I found that there were so many things. !

Below, the pit begins.

Second, the overall situation

This group of pits mainly involves the functions of producer and planning. You only know that it is a pit if you have stepped on it!

1. No reflection

The more recently I discovered that the previous gameplay methods were very unreliable, and the reason they were unreliable was due to lack of reflection. As a company founder, he always fought on the front line in the early years. He was a busy producer + planner + programmer. The producer and planner in the article refer to me.

When I first started doing preliminary research, as a producer and planner, what I thought was to make an AR version of a battle game, turn on the camera, and then be able to fight monsters in the real world. Yes, an unqualified producer and planner made a “perfect” decision just like that.

This requires a powerful three-dimensional coordinate system conversion algorithm. Fortunately, my major is related to this. So I became a programmer and did it by myself for a month. The algorithm barely passed the test, but most of the mobile phones at that time only had one camera, which was used for three-dimensional space. The support is very poor. So the 3D model will always dangle in the camera. This is because Unity3D gets the original GPS coordinates without correction.

At that time, I thought this was a big problem, but later this problem was hidden (qi) by the producer Xue (pao) along with the demo of AR Monster Fighting. What is it for? I read the comments and posts of every AR game on taptap and found such a major problem. All of this should be investigated before the project is established.

Everyone feels like a fool with a mobile phone in the outdoors, afraid of others’ jokes. This turning around does not mean walking around, it means turning around, because the monster in the camera will run around and out of the screen, so you have to follow it. In the absence of AR glasses, holding a mobile phone, it is indeed possible to be fooled by others.

Not only that, if you are in the subway, on the bus seat, in the classroom, or even in severe cold and heat, would you go out to play this game with your phone? In the product manager’s concept, this is the limited product scenario, which indirectly leads to a reduction in the time for users to start the game. This is a big problem.

Although I made several AR demos (there is also an AR version of minesweeper), the GPS floating problem has not been solved. Later I found that it does not need to be solved. Because the scenes of these two demos are limited, it is decided that it will be in a small On the basis of the public game, it is even more niche (╯︵╰).

summary:You should do a good job of product research earlier to understand the problem of this usage scenario. Coupled with the maturity of ARKit and ARCore in recent years, the algorithms developed in the previous month are useless. However, looking at the technical articles released by ARKit and ARCore in recent years, they are exactly the same as the algorithm I developed back then. If I applied for an international patent at that time, would I have made a few small goals in the past few years?

2. No plan

The plan is useless, but there is no plan, you will… I really can’t remember who said this sentence, and I didn’t find it. No wonder I didn’t have a plan to do things before!

Relying on the persistence and love of the game, I made it a lifelong career. Since then, I seem to have really found the meaning of my life ヽ( ̄▽ ̄)و! Why do you say that, because this game product is a combination of my greatest interest (game) and my specialty (GIS), plus my inspiration. The most important thing is that every time I think of the final look of this game, I get very excited and feel that I must make it, otherwise I will regret it in this life.

This may also lead to one of the biggest problems (again), which is to spend unlimited time on this game. In fact, when I wrote the plan at the beginning, I found that the game volume should be quite large. At that time, I thought: “Anyway, I use my life to fix it. Are you afraid that it won’t come out? And I can still do splits, be MVP, and continue to iterate!”

In fact, look at the planning outline now, there are 90,000 words, that’s an outline, my goodness! I really put everything I can think of. This is also a very big planning pit! “Completion is more important than perfection”, I have known this sentence for a long time, but I still can’t help adding things to the plan. Now look at there are 4 games, which means I may plan and design 4 medium-sized games in the past few years.

But this is not the biggest problem at the planning level. The biggest problem is that I think I have a plan. As a producer, I actually have no plan for the unknown function, and I don’t know how long it will be realized. This is a negligent producer. Every time I think of this, the book “The Myth of Man-Month” pops out of my mind.

After the revision, our game is based on the real map. All locations on the real map are designed with corresponding gameplay, plus the virtual monster location, the function is quite rich. You can conquer the city and become a strategist; go to find treasures around the world and become an explorer; invest money and become an investor; stay with your pets day and night and become an animal trainer…

At that time I thought: “Sprint with all strength, it should be fine, the plan is useless, the plan cannot keep up with the changes!” But I overlooked a major use of the plan, that is, there must be a deadline to tell you when Stop, and not get caught up in irrelevant details. About the production details of the pit, I will talk about it in detail in the product pit part!

summary:The formulation of the plan is more important than the plan itself. The purpose of a plan is not to execute it, but to tell you when to do something and when to stop. I realized it was too late.

3. Things are too full

Summarizing the first two overall pits, continue to dig a layer, why there is no reflection and no plan? There is also a deep reason, that is, there are too many things.

As the founder, he has to manage business and taxation legal recruitment and financing externally, and internally act as producer, numerical planning, script writing, product manager, project management, etc. (unlimited, etc.), and even write procedures in the early stage. In short, everything is mine. When the company is big, you call the boss, and when the company is small, then you call the general manager.

However, some Mengxin will think that the company is yours, so there is nothing wrong with doing so much, right? In fact, the problem is quite serious. Many people from prestigious schools are very arrogant and feel that they are omnipotent and can do everything. The front-end code in the early stage of the game was indeed written by myself, and it is still in use now, very silky! When I was the most exaggerated, I thought about firing off those who didn’t work well, and doing them all by myself. Now I think about it too much.

Not to mention, I have even done art, of course, it is limited to the lighting baking system of Unity3D. The remaining rationality saved me and made me realize that art cannot be done by myself. Nowadays, some gamers do all the sound effects, art, programs, etc. by themselves, or by two people. I admire their spirit, but this problem is slow. After all, human beings are a cooperative species.

Fewer people is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that when you work hard, you can’t see the road. You don’t know where the road is and your sense of direction disappears. Why do many off-road racing cars have a driver and a navigator? This is the truth. The producer is equivalent to the leader of the team.

When you are busy on the front line every day, you will have no time to reflect, no time to make plans, no time for deep thinking, no time for project management, no time to see if you are off the track… So, for the sake of your own life To see the game’s big sales, someone must take the lead!

summary:As a leader, you can’t always act for the front-line personnel. The front-line tasks are too trivial and specific, and they cannot be done. Someone must be at the helm, always calibrate the general direction, and not yaw! So as a producer, you have to control the rhythm and lead. Planning is to design the game well, and the programmer must concentrate on writing the program. If you can only hold multiple jobs, then please leave enough time for yourself to reflect.

Three, product pit group

Most of the pits in this chapter are implementation-level pits, but they are also very important. They mainly involve the functions of program apes and product managers. I said you can not step on it, I don’t believe it!

1. The product design is not meticulous

I believe that when everyone is confident, I am not a professional product manager. I think I am a natural product manager. Of course, I think I am a natural good hand in all other aspects ( ̄^ ̄)!

After listening to some offline product manager classes, I think I know all about it. I’m here to check the missing parts! So, when I did it, I realized that it’s not that simple. Reality always slaps your face. That’s why I said just now that you still have to step on it, otherwise you don’t fall deeply?

How was this problem discovered? When writing code, my programmers often have various problems. Each problem will make me think for a long time and optimize the design. I would like to thank our fellow programmers very much here, they are equivalent to part of the game design. Of course, this is their spontaneous behavior based on their love of the game, not a task.

The devil of details also broke out at this time. The deeper the function was written, the more things were discovered. Gradually, I saw that the body of the product was bigger than imagined. Don’t worry, Mengxin, you will definitely step on this pit, because you haven’t gotten this thing before, you can’t think of it. I now say you go to design a new satellite, let you think about its details, how much do you think you can design?

This can still be optimized. The previous thinking is not in conflict with agile development, and it is not for you to engage in waterfall mode. For the simplest example, in any game event, how many states do you think there are? Did Mengxin’s first reaction begin and end?

In fact, when you think about it, at the code level, there may be at least three states: beginning, in progress, and end. If you go further, the status of the game’s mission may have more states such as not started, completed, and received rewards. Each state and its neighboring events may cross and new moths appear!

summary:If the product manager can do more in-depth and professional product design in the early stage, such as considering the intersection of every two events, it can save a lot of code rework time. So it’s okay to read more books, make up more lessons, and don’t look at the best. Don’t be lazy, don’t be persuaded, the product flow chart must be drawn, you can find many problems when drawing.

2. Release the product too late

Are students familiar with lean startups familiar with this title? I have read the book “Lean Entrepreneurship”, and I have repeatedly emphasized not to release the product too late. I also remember it, but why is it released so late in practice?

This is caused by the three pits in the overall situation. No reflection leads to forgetting to release the product earlier. There is no plan to make yourself feel that there is nothing to release later. The things are too full and the energy is not enough, and the inertia pushes away and cannot get out. !

(It’s all tears, no, I’m already crying dry!)

Things are too full. I think this pit is the main pit. Other problems stem from it. When I become a programmer, I will get too much into the details and have no time for other things. I will fight the bug to the death. I won’t stop until dawn, but I don’t have the energy to think about whether this bug should be solved.

In fact, some bugs are not that important, which is confirmed after we first released the beta version of the game. Players are stuck in the guidance link, and only a few players have passed the guidance link, because the guidance system is really bad (now it has been redone twice, and Xiaobai can basically understand it now).

so what? The issue of the release too late was exposed. We found so many bugs in the battle, and as a result, many players didn’t even know that there was a battle, and even quit before the battle. The release too late led to the next problem. The late feedback from the players is really a pitfall, pitfalls and pitfalls!

summary:As the old saying goes, when you think it’s time to release a product, it’s often too late. Producers should let real users touch your product when they think the product is still embarrassing. At this time, the significance of the plan is once again highlighted. For example, the producer plans to release the first version for 3 months, so that the problem of the guidance system can be found, instead of waiting for 1 year afterwards that there are no major problems before releasing. .

3. Feedback collection is not timely

The release is late, and the players are late in contact. Therefore, the problems we have tested internally are somewhat different from the perspective of the players’ feedback. After all, the things that I touch every day will take it for granted.

They advocated Jobs from the user’s point of view to see product problems in one second. Let’s not comment on whether it is true or false. I just want to say that Jobs wants to design products in the first line? If he is not in the front line and does not usually touch the product, wouldn’t he be an ordinary Apple user? It’s not bad, you’re careful with your character. As a manager, should you withdraw, should you stand higher?

There is another angle of feedback. As a product manager, I didn’t test the game enough. Sometimes I didn’t download the game until it was released, and then I found a bunch of problems, leading to rework. God, how many lives are wasted! Again, the pitfalls are intertwined. The problems I found in the test game have made me reflect on some management problems!

summary:As a product manager, how can you completely believe that the first version of the product is what you want? We can at least play it by ourselves, and then collect real feedback from players as early as possible. Only in this way can the problem be found early, don’t wait for the fire to spread across the grassland!

Four, management pit group

Teacher Liu Run has said that management should “grasp the big and let go of the small and fine.” This group of pits mainly involves management post functions. If you have dedicated project management personnel, it is best. If not, QA will carry it. There is no QA tester. God horse, no? Then let the producer or planner carry it.

1. Demand confirmation is not in place

Connected to a pit, when I played this game myself, I found that this is not what I want (ㄒoㄒ)! The programmer’s heart must be like “You didn’t say it earlier!” Or it was “Look, I said it would be like that!” But it was too late, because this version has already been released.

summary:Requirements should be confirmed when they are put forward. It is very important for the executive to talk about his understanding! It is best to have the requester repeatedly confirm the request during the execution process, which is much more cost-effective than if there is a problem after the release!

2. Progress management is not in place

When we were in high school, we had a physical education teacher. Once in class, he was “rest, stand up, free exercise!” We love him so much. Free exercise is much more interesting than practicing gymnastics. We all call him “the old man with sheep.” Well, then my management style is also very “herding sheep” (the third time to shake the pot).

As a manager, after I submitted the requirements, I just waited for the version to be released. This is a big taboo and a naive performance. This is really too much for herding sheep, I don’t know if they are going in the wrong direction? Did you fall into the sheep pit? Is it procrastinating? Is it not well understood?

If you don’t follow up, you may not know that something went wrong. The key is that the programmer himself may not realize that something went wrong. For example, when studying the technical solution combining Unity3D and GRPC, the programmer went wrong and made up a lot of basic knowledge. Then I found out, it was wrong, why did it take two weeks? And there is not much progress. When I asked, I discovered that he had fallen into the details too much and had forgotten the goal to be achieved.

summary:This is the importance of having someone grasp the management and direction. If possible, ask about the progress twice a day. If you write the code yourself, you should also have time to reflect and ask yourself if you have deviated from the requirements. In this way, if the progress is slow, problems can be found in advance, and corrected as soon as possible, and unimportant details can be discarded.

3. Recruitment is too slow

As a manager, after I added “progress skill points”, I found that a young comrade in an important position was too slow to move, which affected the overall speed of the project. So I talked to him and listed a few of his own problems that he needed to correct immediately. The results of it? Maybe it was tired after working for too long, maybe it was because I thought I couldn’t do it and proposed to resign.

I didn’t prepare this in advance. Although there was a buffer time of one month, it was around October. I thought it would be enough to recruit one more person in one month. Unexpectedly, after he finished handing over the things to the company, it took more than a month, maybe two and a half months in total, before he recruited suitable candidates.

I slapped all the people who can be directly hired by Nanjing Boss. I won’t complain if there are people of all colors. Finally, new colleagues successfully joined in late November.

summary:Recruitment cannot be blindly optimistic. It was easy to recruit people in the past, but it does not mean that it is easy in the future. It is necessary to make plans in advance and prepare for both hands. If funds permit, there must be at least two people in each position.

4. Ignore the power of the process

Unexpectedly, unexpectedly, there are still blind spots in the process that I sneer at the most. As a manager, I always despise various processes because they are slow and inefficient. But I overlooked its advantage, that is, it can make the whole job more stable.

In the process of making games, we often have some problems (this is for sure). Some problems have just happened and can be recalled quickly. Some problems seem familiar, but I don’t remember when. Then these questions have to be rethinked and dealt with again. Yes, this is a waste of time. And all of this is a pot without a process (the fourth pot).

Later, I read a book “The Essence of Game Design”, which is all about the game production process. Is the process the essence of game production? Now think about it, if you only have creativity and cannot realize it, then it is useless. If so, the title has a bit of philosophy. Fortunately, my obsessive-compulsive disorder helped me. After reading it carefully, I discovered the secret of the process.

Yes, if the project is large, there will be many things. It is too easy to have problems if you only rely on the human brain to remember. Sometimes at home, I often say why my mother still uses her head to remember small things. Is it bad to remember on the phone? Unexpectedly, I also have this problem on a larger level.

With the process, many problems follow the process step by step, and things can be done in an orderly manner soon! This is so comfortable, especially compared to when there is no process. Most importantly, this saves your brain!

summary:For known problems, the process can be produced step by step without having to call creative brain cells every time to think about how to do each step. But beware of being locked up by the process, this way of thinking may be fixed, so you should think about it every once in a while.

Five, perception

Whether it’s starting a business or making a game, a lot of changes have really taken place in itself, whether it is functions or attributes. For example, the stress resistance has increased, the mood has stabilized, and the depression is no longer…Is that the nature of my person changed?

After entering the game industry, I found more and more that I really love games too much. I can’t wait to play all the games in the world. Now our game is preparing to promote (the kind that does not cost money), and we have also created a few short video accounts (Spoon Game Journal, Geocentric Crazy Asylum), one is about the game development process, the other is that the production team is more than daily. It can be found on all major video platforms, and it faintly feels that a new hole is on the way again.

I am very grateful, I am very happy, and do not ask the family to give me more. Life is not easy, but what is easy?

This game, it may be the meaning of my life, the simplicity in my heart, the intertwining of good and evil.

God used my hand to create this game, I feel the mission!

Bravely pursue success and face failure calmly! I will keep going, after all, there are still hot stars in my heart.

Okay, thanks for seeing that at the end, is the pit in the article still fragrant? If you leave only one sentence after reading it, it is “long-term unsatisfactory, there must be a reason”, just take this sentence to find the problem, you can forget the rest! _ψ(‥) I am also cute, and I hope the great god will make a brick!

Source: Tencent GWB Games Unbounded
Original address: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/rcqNhenjz2-NqeMrI5A1ow


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