Beginnings and Planning

Posted On: 2018-10-01

By Mark

Today is the first day fully dedicated to working on my new project. To begin this project, I will be endeavoring to plan out a rough outline of a long-term plan for the project, as well as a more detailed short-term plan that can serve as a guide for what I will begin working on once this initial planning is complete.

I am using this combination (rough long-term with detailed short-term) as I have found this to be the most useful combination: long-term plans are always subject to change and clarification, which inevitably will come later on. As such, I tend to prefer simple outlines or vision statements for long-term planning. I have also found that granular long-term plans will necessarily require rework over time, and they can inadvertently make people (those working the plan as well as those learning about it) change-adverse towards any of those aspects that were planned out in detail.

Regarding short-term planning, it is useful to document the known level of detail, as well as dedicate time to identifying additional details that may be currently unknown. The primary value this provides is off-loading the mental burden associated with managing that level of detail in one's head. As a developer, I am often juggling quite a lot of moment-to-moment details in my mind, so it helps to keep near-term goals recorded, as this allows me to safely jettison all thoughts unrelated to the specific task I am working on.

As I begin planning this particular project, I am noticing a few interesting patterns already. Firstly, even though I am limiting myself to near-term objectives and broad outlines, I am still finding it overwhelming just how many different things there are to work on. To manage that, I think I am going to try categorize things according to the various "hats" that an indie developer has to wear. I will also try to focus on a specific theme, and plan out activities relating to that across the categories.

Since this is the beginning of everything, the first theme will be "what does it take to begin doing work". I have actually begun work on a few of these already (such as updating software authoring tools) but planning them out in advance will help to make sure that I neither miss any, nor end up working on them in an unhelpful order (for example, doing all the vision planning before getting tools up-and-running might be a good idea, as it may inform which engine and/or target platforms should be chosen.)

While I generally like to do my planning by physically writing things on paper (this is just a personal preference) I will include it here as well. These are the roles and their immediate goals (in no particular order):

While working through these, I also identified some items that I would like to work on, maybe after this current set is complete. I haven't included them here, but will keep a record of them, possibly on that place to store plans mentioned in the Producer section.

Having things broken up into categories helps a great deal: it is clear that Vision is a prerequisite for much of the other work. It also makes clear that the Producer work will provide immediate value (as writing this all in a blog is quite unwieldy and will quickly get out-of-date.) As such, I will be focusing on those two first, and then approach the others. Provided that things go well, my next blog will likely cover the "feel" and themes of the game I will be working on.

Hopefully this window into how I am approaching planning is interesting and/or useful. If you have any thoughts or feedback about any of this, please let me know.

Thank you,