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To plan while you build your site or plan everything before you build?


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So there are generally two types of processes to planning and executing projects, those who jump in and plan their sites features while they ar building out their sites, and those who prefer to plan everything out in detail before they even contemplate getting started.

For those of you with games either in planning or development, or even active games, what did you do and would you do it differently?

@Nate @Hare @runeowl @Aminirus @halichu @tiff @SugarFoxKym

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A good middle ground has worked wonders for me recently. I used to jump in head-first into making games and I usually encountered unforeseen problems. On the other hand, planning too much without doing anything made me really unmotivated. But there are also problems that you won't know about until you begin building.

So this time around, with Unbun, I did quite a lot of planning and finished most of the artwork before I found a programmer. When I got tired of making the artwork myself, I hired someone to help me and it also helped a bit with motivation. Not all of the artwork is currently finished, but enough to where the programmer can begin work. Seeing a working product will also help with finishing the artwork.

My advice also is to have a good chunk of art finished before finding someone to program the game; people are often more motivated to work (even if it's paid) when the product looks pretty. 

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I'm actually one of those that falls in the middle of this. Basically for any project, I write out the main details , do sketches if need be, but it's never super detailed. Then I actually get to work and work out the minute details as I go through it, but having already set out the main details, I know what needs to go where and what needs to be done to reach a final look. Being just an artist and writer, I like planning what is to be done, but leaving wiggle room for change. 

I have detailed things out completely in the past before and to be honest, I hated it. I felt more pressure and stress when it was all laid out in front of me than when I do if I know there is either room for improvement or to switch things up a little. Plus, I also noticed that when I plan things out fully, I never tend to finish them.. I just eventually.. stop. So if I leave wiggle room and know things can be adjusted and changed, I usually see a project to the end. 

Of course I complete everything if there is a deadline given, but for personal projects, basic planning first, then one step at a time afterwards. 

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I am a firm believer of planning at the start. 

That way you have the features figured out - every feature should flow from one to the next, not random things together. I think working out before also gives you the freedom to scrap ideas and improve. You should know exactly what you want before coding, especially if you are getting someone else to code.

I am a big fan of lists though and to-do's so this makes sense. I like the order of it and knowing what is what. I know this isn't a 'guarantee' of success but there is a reason that big firms and design companies have design documents. I think not using a design document you could have some problems or patches of indecision but again some people have thrived on just 'winging it'. 

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I've gotten a lot of planning and groundwork done beforehand, but I've definitely met in the middle where I think of a really neat idea and tack it onto my to-do list. For example, I already had a good grasp on the features I wanted to implement in addition to the features that are currently available, but while fleshing out currently existing features, I came up with additional ones that may or may not have pertained to what I was working on. So it's a work in progress constantly, which I think is both productive and counter-productive in a lot of ways. 

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As a programmer, I definitely plan before jumping right into it. I always map out the database tables and come up with scenarios in my head to see if that setup will work. I do that with every new feature I introduce into the game as well. I find it a pain having to go back and forth redoing my database structure just because I missed a vital piece.

On the artwork side, I commission my artists as features are being developed so I don't do much planning on that end, but i do make sure that I list everything I'll need for that feature to be complete so they don't have to keep revisiting the project. I find it easier to work with finalized art pieces rather than prototypes/bogus images.

I will always map out each feature before jumping into it. It helps me get a really good starting point and helps me also be productive and develop faster.

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I'm a big fan of planning every single detail ahead of time. From how it will look, to how it will function. But things change during development, so my initial plan almost never looks exactly like the end result. I just think going in totally blind is a mistake because you can't just drop a feature in and hope for the best, games are more like an ecosystem, and there is a lot to consider when developing anything.

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I plan out a lot of details before jumping into anything. I try to be as detailed as possible including the basic database design, how it will basically look (this isn't as detailed since I don't do colored mockups but I do make sketches) and of course how things will function. As a programmer I write things for myself trying to give enough details to actually jump in and start coding.

But my design too does end up changing quite a bit from the initial design. Maybe I didn't go as detailed as I was thinking, or just decided to change path slightly. Either way the details do tend to get redone. However when I change something I do think about the design as a whole. This is natural for me anyway, and I love making lists. Can't say I always stick to my lists, but mapping out details and planning the direction are things I enjoy and I don't shrink from it.

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