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Game-building and the art of self-restriction

Game-building and the art of self-restriction

A fair budget, a decent timeline, and an awesome creative brief…

…this sounds too good to be true. However, it’s not all plain sailing in the exacting and exciting world of game dev.

Brave was tasked with conceptualizing and building a game for REDISA last year, and we delivered a great game, in-time and on-budget, however, there were a few learnings along the way.

I sat down with Mike, our big-cheese developer and Unity game builder, to find out more about this.

When I asked Mike which of the many learnings stood out the most for him with this project, he admitted that he and Grant might have gotten a bit carried away with the thrill of coming up with a game that they wanted to play, rather than constraining their parameters.


But you made a great game, AND met your deadline?
  • Yeah, but it was quite hectic and quite a bit of overtime towards the end, because we’d devised a gameplay that was rather more complex than it needed to be.Grant and I wanted to build this amazing game that would appeal to us, and that we would want to play, even though the audience at large would most likely have been OK with something very simple like Flappy Bird.”
Complex much?
So simple it hurts.
So you might have overcomplicated things for yourselves?
  • A bit, I guess. We still created something cool that ticked all the boxes, but they often say that the more restrictions you have the more creative you get. So, if we had limited ourselves, we might have achieved even more.”
Is this something you’d be keen to experiment with? Self-restricting, regardless the actual budget and deadline?
  • When it comes to games, maybe yes. I think if we try that, we’ll be even more focused on the core points, and often, simpler is better. Games for marketing purposes are specifically tough, because you’ve got a large portion of the population that don’t play them, and don’t have any idea what a game should be like and why it’s fun. Maybe keeping things very simple with regards to the initial concept will ensure that even the most novice of gamers are excited by the game.”
So next time?
  • I think it’s worth trying self-restricting to boost our own creativity. Keep the gameplay and the main idea simple.”

Thanks Mike!

It’s certainly an interesting idea for a team to self-restrict, especially when the creative boundaries seem wide open.

Perhaps Mike is on to something when it comes to game building: rather than hindering creativity, forcing ourselves to create something simple in a smaller time-frame could result in a final product that’s even more accessible, fun-to-play and awesome to build.