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About this book

Learn the things you need for a complete game, such as translations and tutorials, and improve the things you've already written to raise their standard to a professional level. This is a practical guide covering every discipline: art, music, writing, and code. In the case of the latter, code examples are included to demonstrate how to implement functionality to make the game shine.

Polished Game Development acts as a comprehensive checklist of everything your game should, and should not, do, in order to be as good as it possibly can. It is more than just a book on theoretical game design principles.

Explains the difference between a pet project, and a professional one.Covers how to test for the problems and bugs you don't know you'll have.Details simple, but effective, visual improvements that can be done with very little effort.

Regardless of platform (web, mobile, or console), or language (C++, C#, JavaScript) there is a wealth of common (and specific) tips within these pages that will enable you to make the most professional games you can.

What You Will Learn

Learn what essential elements are often missedStay on-brand, visually and verballyUse audio to enhance your gameImprove game balanceTest effectivelyWho This Book Is For

Game developers looking for a guide and checklist on how to get their game finished to the highest possible standards. They will know how to write a game, and get it released, but not necessarily how to make it shine. They will be professional developers, indies, university students and graduates.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction to Game Polish

Development is a black art; games development even more so. There seems to be no correlation between the quality of a game and the technical ability of the programmers, the artistic brilliance (or otherwise) of the artists, the purity of melody of the composer, or the innovation present within a game design. A good game just seems to sparkle with magic. It has that special “something” that can’t be defined or taught.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 2. The Essentials

Even those that play a lot of games, or go through university courses, miss the fact that games comprise of a set of standard elements: title screens, training levels, an off button for the music, and so on. We expect them to exist, and barely notice them as we click Next, Next, Next in our effort to get into the game. So while the presence of such items is taken for granted, their omission is enough to cause quizzical and distracting thoughts for the player. In this chapter, we create a checklist of every element that needs to exist and what it should contain. The precise methods by which this can be achieved are covered in the later chapters, categorized by discipline.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 3. Gameplay

There are probably as many definitions of the word gameplay as there are people trying to define it! For our purposes, it’s that illusive element of the game design that allows your game to stand apart from all others. At the AAA end of the market, this is usually down to the graphics and animation quality, as these studios have the mighty dollar on their side. With money on their side, they are able to ensure unique animations for each character and to have each frame mercilessly fussed over. The rest of us have to focus on the maxim “work smarter, not harder.”
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 4. Game Balancing

Finding the Goldilocks Zone
One of the most intriguing parts of game development is balancing. How do you make a game that is neither too easy nor too hard? How do you ensure that one feature of the game isn’t so overpowering that it makes all other elements insignificant? Perhaps more importantly, who decides that? A game of any sensible size takes many months or years to develop, which means that all those working on it have an innate understanding of the interface and mechanics, so that everyone on the team finds the game too easy.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 5. User Experience

The Crux of UX and Design
Very few teams have a dedicated user experience, or UX, person. Even fewer teams know what a UX person does. For our purposes, the UX is about making the journey that the user takes through the game from screen to screen as simple and as pleasing as possible. The player should be able to flow through the game like a proverbial breeze.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 6. In-Game Visuals

The Importance of Being Pretty
For most people, game polish and shine imply visuals. And that implies artists. While there is a lot of work for the artists to do in this area, it is not exclusively their domain. After all, if it were, the only words in this chapter would read, Dear artists —please work harder and make it prettier! It’s a comment with zero substance, for sure. Instead we’ll look at concrete examples of how traditionally simple visuals can be improved with a little code, a little art, and a little combined effort.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 7. Audio

Hear, hear...
Of all the disciplines, game audio is probably the most neglected. (Except maybe testing!) Every time you hear of a game developer who added the audio at the end of the project, you know they’re a game developer who’s neglecting the audio experience. There are probably many reasons as to why it’s left until last, but the importance of good quality audio cannot be understated. The classic example of watching a horror film without the sound demonstrates how necessary audio is to establishing mood and building an environment.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 8. Writing

Everyone thinks that they’re a writer. Everyone. How often have you heard someone say that, one day, they will sit down and write their memoirs? Or that they wish they had the time to write a novel? It’s almost as if writing is an inalienable ability bestowed upon the entire human race. While musicians might believe themselves to be at the bottom of a producer’s “want list,” writers can take small comfort in the knowledge that they’ve been on the bottom rung of this ladder since the ladder was invented. So much so that few teams have historically had a writer, even as a part-time or contract position, and that only recently has it become an acknowledged role within a professional games team. And since it’s not an area that interests most developers, it’ll often languish until the end of a project before it’s done. If at all.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 9. Coding Practices

Good code is felt but never seen. Its impact permeates the whole game in both the audio and visuals. Unless you’re writing a game for a university project, you might think that your code—as in the quality of your code—is unlikely to come under much scrutiny once it’s working. That, alas, is a fallacious argument.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 10. Testing

Working Right, All the Time
To most developers, the concept of testing comes with dread and postponement. In reality, it should do neither. It should be a welcome addition to the programmers’ arsenal, because it gives a confidence and peace of mind that little else can. It is something that should be part of the entire development process, and not just tacked on at the end.
Steven Goodwin

Chapter 11. Final Thoughts

Never Too Much
There is no such thing as an “easy” day in game development. At the start of the project, there’s the air of anticipation and the dream of an ambition in creating the greatest ever game as we plan, brainstorm, and work frantically to give our baby the best possible start we can in its digital life.
Steven Goodwin
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