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Sonstiges: Developer Diary - The Creation of a 3DS/Switch Game

Michael Grönert, am 26.12.2016, Seite 4 von 10

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Part 4: Final preparations
We have a game idea, we know that we want to implement it with Unity and we know where we can get everything we need. But before we really get going, we should make some preparations. Today I would like to talk about a few things that should be clarified before we start. First, we should definitely install the IDE Unity and the 3DS SDK, if we haven’t done so already. Nintendo offers a software bundle on their developer portal, which provides you with all necessary packages and keeps them up-to-date. Non-Nintendo developers can download Unity directly from this homepage. All right, what else do we need?

Version control system (VCS) - git
How do you actually split up a project for several people when these people have to work on the same things while doing so as independently from each other as possible? These and many other questions are answered by a tool for (distributed) version management like git. Thanks to git, multiple people can even edit text in the same file at the same time without problems when the different versions are merged. As long as there are no conflicts, such as multiple people changing one and the same line, git will combine them automatically. This tool also allows you to reset the state of your code or the entire project back to any previous state at any time. All you have to do is send a "commit" after each major change to the server running git, which in turn creates a snapshot of the project.

Image source: Smashing Magazine

If you are curious about what else git is capable of, there are whole books written about it. It's a very complex topic. Maybe you are wondering why I use a VCS when I work alone on this project. There are several reasons. First, the commits you send are annotated. These comments are shown when you browse through the history later, turning git into a kind of diary. This makes it much easier to determine what you've done and when. In addition, you can save your project regularly and efficiently on a different computer. Git only backs up changed data. Doing this manually, you would have to search for changed files and copy them individually, or copy the entire project. With git, should the hard disk, the PC or even the project itself be defective, you can restore any state at any time.

Time Tracker - TrackingTime
Another useful aid is a tool for tracking the time you spent on different tasks. I was often asked how long I needed for a particular project and couldn’t give an exact answer. "Just over a year" - what exactly does that mean? Maybe I also could have done it in a month. In order to give a more meaningful response, one would have to know the hours or the working days with a fixed number of working hours. Besides the ability to give information about your working hours, you also have the chance to estimate the actual value of your project. Here, a time tracking tool like TrackingTime can help. It can be used to create a variety of tasks such as "Learning Unity", "Inventory", "Title Screen", "Character Design", "Mini Game XY". After that, you can comfortably start a timer of the respective task by pushing a button and after you have finished it or if you want to take a break, you can stop it again. The results can then be sorted by tasks or displayed in a calendar. For a single person, a simple text file or a sheet of paper is definitely sufficient, but why wouldn’t you want to use a convenient, free service which makes everything easier?

Advertising / Community
If you ask professional game developers, or they report on their own, how much effort and cost they put in the respective areas of game development, you might be surprised. Often you hear that programming is the smallest part, maybe about 20% of a project. This, of course, varies tremendously between games because some put the most value in their graphics, sounds and story. However, I found it particularly surprising how enormous the advertising share can be. Some developers, especially for mobile games, often say that the cost of advertising measures over 50% of the total project. This isn’t even limited to classic video clips and banner ads but rather social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Usually, the majority of advertisement takes place shortly before and after the release of a game. But it is also said that one can never start early enough. There are also projects which start with advertising even before they begin the development process. And for that reason I am talking about it in this section and count it as prep work. To me, it makes sense to think about it from the beginning. But at least in the final phase, it is imperative to take advertising measures, especially considering the large quantities of games released on a daily basis. In my case, this diary could be interpreted as a commercial measure. Of course, this is not the reason why I started it but I certainly also wish that this article series may create a small community.

That's it for now, although I could probably still list a lot of things. In my next diary entry I would like to finally start with the development!

Do you prefer to read this diary in the developer's mother tongue? Then click here to read this diary entry in the original German language!

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