Best video game development cycle?

So I started to finally make my bigtime project. Before have made a small game, and even earlier, tons of small machinimas, so I could say I know a little about production cycle of “stuff”, but this is different.
The game, tho short, might end up quite big. So I’m here to ask you more experienced devs about what is the best cycle for developing a game.

For now I’ve thought to:

  1. Create an initial set of all maps, marking down key elements + setting up the basic AI of the npcs and rough cut-scenes. Only basic lights to see aroung the map, and using a variety of the same textures with different colors for each elements purpose (ie. the skybox is gray, the walls and floors: blue, and places where entities would stand: red). Afterwards, do the first tests, to see if the concept makes sense.
  2. Make all animations, events and cutscenes final. End up with a playable game, without the art stuff.
  3. Add basic audio elements (foot steps ect.)
  4. Run a few betatests to see if everything plays good with other people.
  5. Make all the models and textures for the game, basically art stuff.
  6. Add lights
  7. Add music and ambient sounds.
  8. Do final tests.

What do you think? If you have any tips on making it better, feel free.

ps. I was also thinking of running those steps, but on segments of the game. Like if I have 5 parts of it, I would first make the first one complete 100%, then work on the other.

I have always focused on Game Play first … get the basics in place and get a bunch of people playing it. If they have fun and it seems like it can work out to be a good game … then go back and follow your process as described above.

Too many times I have seen people go:

  • I have this awesome idea
  • Let me make it
  • Let me make it look pretty
  • Now people can play it

The problem is that they loose sight of game play and the idea tanks because the core element of a game is not there. You can have the best idea in the world, the best art, and the best sound … but if the game play is not there then it won’t be played.

Don’t get me wrong … sound, art, and ideas are just as important … but don’t focus too much on those until you have done some game play. It is normally at this stage that you can identify if the game mechanics will work and whether the idea works.

Anyway … that is just my take on the situation. 8-}

I do it like that (sight of a one man team ^^):

(rough overview)
-write a small gdd to know the goals and the rough outlines
-start prototyping the most important gameplay features -> you will need them for the level
-after that start with the asset creationg + with the map
-finalize the gameplay
-polish the map and assets
-get some people that test your game
-improve more stuff
-release it

I would add even more testing (after each bigger step) to your list. It helps to find bugs, fix gameplay problems before moving on.

It also depends how much time you have or what is a budget. If it’s a 3 day game jam, you can throw away any rule and bring more Red Bull :slight_smile:

I agree with qdelpeche. Game play is should be first. You can enjoy a game even if it uses a prototype content.

One of the AAA game developer I met during some Polish Game Conference said: “There is no perfect development cycle. Every project is unique and you cannot define golden rules for that. It changes too dynamically”

Thanks. I was aware that the gameplay is the most important part. Yet to be more specific the game will be something like “Thirty Flights Of Loving” or the Stanley Parable, which means the gameplay will go down to the player just walking and running around, and enjoy a storyline (more info soon).

For now I’ve made the sketch of the first level and am trying to figure out other characters who for some reason don’t really like to do what I tell them to.
Also ran into a small design problem, since I want to include mini cutscenes (I mean just situations where something would happen to the player, ie. get caught, or…commit suicide) but I can’t figure out what would be the best way to put them into the game, without making another “order 1886”…

Got a long road ahead of me, but the concept seems to be worth it.

Honestly, it’s best to work to your strong points to weak points.
I am a programmer and I love AI.

So, my projects consist of gameplay mechanics first then art assets later. However, due to my limitations in art creation, I find myself restructuring my project to fit what I can actually create.