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  • The Structured Path To Making An Online Game

    - Charlotte Walker

  • Create a Storyboard of the Game

    Once your design document has been completed, it's time to create a storyboard. A storyboard is a set of "screens" that your game is comprised of, outlining the details of the game.

    A step-by-step storyboard for a game (Source)

    For the above mentioned puzzle game, the storyboard could consist of:

    • The main landing page for the game.
    • The "new user" screen that allows them to register.
    • The "returning user" screen that lets them login.
    • The funding screen, which allows them to add credits.
    • The display, which lets them begin to play.
    • The reaction of the display to being interacted with.

    In addition to this, you might have a profile screen, messages screen, or rewards screen -- it all depends on the features that you've outlined in your design document. The goal of a storyboard is to walk you through the process of playing the game, such that a "tester" could look at your screens and get a feel for how the game flows. This will also give you a better idea of how long the development is going to take.

    Schedule an Outline of Your Development

    An outline should cover the deadlines for major and minor milestones of your development. Your development time is going to be controlled by your schedule, and your schedule will also give you the step by step process for completing your game.

    For the sake of creating an organized outline, the steps can be broken into 3 main stages as follows: Pre-production, production and post-production.

    Source: Digital Worlds

    Be aware that developing a game can be a strenuous process that can take numerous years to put together, particularly if your team is small.

    For example, a seemingly simple game of online slots can take up to a year to develop by an experienced team, from the moment the brainstorming begins to deployment. There are about 12 people involved in the process, including game designers, mathematicians, front and server developers, researchers, graphic designers, testers and project managers.

    The process is detailed and starts from the very basics: the challenge is in creating a unique slots game that attracts the interest of players. So the first step to any outline is to consider market research time to find similarly-themed slot machines or games which already exist in the marketplace.

    Once a concept becomes a concrete idea, the process of design, development, quality analysis, debugging, trial testing and marketing need to be added into the outline. But the work does not end there - even after launching a slots game, there is upkeep and further analysis to ensure the game is working effectively.

    Test Your Online Game

    You may be surprised to find out that testing a game often takes longer than developing it. Testing a game is both to ensure that it is playable and to remove any errors. Playability tests will show whether players enjoy playing the game, or whether there may be some features that need to be added. Error testing will find bugs that is in the game, such as displaying scores incorrectly or not properly distributing rewards.

    Launching a game before it's well-tested and ready to launch can cause a huge headache.

    A great example is the successful Indie game Super Meat Boy. The game took over 18 months of non-stop, over full-time programing to put together, but the project was rushed. The design, marketing, negotiation process with producers and tight deadlines added significant stress to the process.

    On the day of the PC launch, the developers were inundated with hundreds of bugs, crashes, shutdowns, and more. They received over 2000 emails on the first couple of days, proving how vital extensive QA is pre-launch.

    Glitches abound in Super Meat Boy

    Though the process of building an online game is a lengthy one, it can also be a rewarding one. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into making a solid game, and ultimately, planning will be the key to success.


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