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Detailed breakdown of the stages of Indie Game Development (and what to prepare for each).

As an indie game developer, you're taking on a huge challenge. But, with the right planning and organization, you can turn that challenge into an opportunity. In this guide, I'll cover the basics you would need to know to make your game a success, from the creation of a game concept document and game design document, to assembling a team and bringing your game to market.


1. Concept and Planning:

  • Game Concept Document:

    • Introduction: A brief overview of the game's premise and setting.

    • Game Mechanics: A description of the core gameplay mechanics and systems.

    • Target Audience: Information about the demographic that the game is being developed for.

    • Mood Board/Style Guide: A collection of images, colors, and other visual elements that establish the game's aesthetic.


  • Game Design Document:

    • Introduction: A brief overview of the game's premise and setting.

    • Game Mechanics: A detailed description of the core gameplay mechanics and systems.

    • Features: A list of the game's features, including any unique or innovative elements.

    • Art and Audio: A description of the game's visual and audio style.

    • User Interface: A description of the game's user interface, including how players will navigate and interact with the game.

    • Project Plan: A detailed plan outlining the development schedule, milestones, and team roles.


2. Pre-production:

  • Prototype: A working prototype of the game that demonstrates the core mechanics and systems.

  • Design Document: A detailed document that outlines the game's features and functionality.

  • Project management tool:

    • A project management tool that will be used to track progress and communicate with the team.

    • It could include tasks, milestones, deadlines, and team members assigned to each task.


  • Team members:

    • A list of the team members necessary to bring the game to life, such as programmers, artists, and designers.

    • Information about their roles and responsibilities, as well as their contact information.

    • A list of key stakeholders and their contact information, such as publishers, investors, etc.


3. Production:

  • Game assets:

    • Characters: 3D models, textures, animations and rigging of the characters in the game.

    • Levels: 3D models, textures, lighting, and level design of the levels in the game.

    • Art: Concept art, UI elements, and other 2D assets.

    • Audio: Sound effects and music that are going to be used in the game.


  • Game mechanics and programming:

    • Player movement: The implementation of the player's movement, such as walking, jumping, running, etc.

    • Collision detection: The implementation of collision detection between the player and other objects in the game.

    • Physics: The implementation of physics such as gravity, friction, and other forces that affect the player and other objects in the game.

    • AI: The implementation of AI for enemies and NPCs.

    • Other core systems: The implementation of other systems such as inventory, quest systems, and save/load systems.


  • Design documents and specifications: Updated design documents that reflect the current state of the game's development, including the game mechanics, features, and systems that have been implemented.


4. Alpha and Beta Testing:

  • Test build: A version of the game that is ready for testing, with all core features and systems implemented.

  • Test cases: A set of test cases that cover all core functionality and features of the game, including test for different platforms, resolutions, and input devices.

  • Feedback: Feedback from testers, including bug reports, with detailed information on how to reproduce them, suggestions for improvement, and general impressions of the game.


5. Polishing and finalizing:

  • Final assets: The final version of all game assets, including characters, levels, and art, that have been polished and optimized for performance.

  • Final code: The final version of the game's code, with all bugs and issues resolved, optimized for performance and ready for release.

  • Final design documents: Updated design documents that reflect the final state of the game, including any changes made during polishing and finalizing.


6. Release & LiveOps

  • Final build: The final, polished build of the game that is ready to be released.

  • Release plan: A plan outlining the steps and schedule for releasing the game on a platform such as Steam, the App Store, or Google

  • I will make a deep-dive article about LiveOps and how to optimize a game design strategy towards this.


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