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How to develop a game when you don't have time.

Updated on October 18, 2009


I'm a student of programming and addicted do game programming. I've made a lot of games for fast game development competitions. So this is a simple guide I use when I'm in a contest. Most used for 48h~72h contests.



Before everything

Before joining a competition, you have to be sure whether you have the time. If you want to join a 48h competition, make sure you won't do a party, or go out with friends during the competition. You will stay home and make the game during the whole 48 hours.

As important as having time is having the tools you need for making this game installed on your computer. It's all about time, try not to forget any tool before starting the competition, or you'll waste time doing that.

I'd recommend you to make the structure of your project before. I have a lot of util classes I've made to use when I'm in a speed contest. Get all your util classes ready for the fast development.


Making concepts...
Making concepts...


As long as the rules are open, you will have everything you need to start making your game, but don't go to programming part right now, or you will mess it all up. This is the hardest part, I think, you now have to create the game. Yes, having an good idea isn't that easy. The better thing to do when you don't know too much about the theme is to research. Google and Wikipedia are your friend. =D

One of the most important rule of game design is prototyping. Create a game, prototype it, play it, make it better, and start it all again. But look, we don't have time for creating playable prototypes, all we can do is imagine these prototypes. Prototyping a game in your mind isn't easy either, so be careful, because time, which you don't have much, is running, and you can't think of anything too complex either.

Did you have a nice idea? Great, start writing it on a text document, or in the paper you've drawn some concepts. Did you draw concepts, didn't you? After that you will write TODOs. A list of tasks you should do. It's easier to code anything when you have topics to follow.

And guess now? Programming starts. Follow the task list you've written. Even though it's highly advisable to comment your code, it's not necessary. Be careful with the WOP, don't let it rule your code, but use it sometimes. Remember you don't have time to refactor your code every new function.

What about the graphics of your game? Well, you've got two options. I'd recommend you to take breaks in programming to make some graphics. However, you can do all the images after programming all the game.

Some tips...

  • Sleep - don't think you'll stay all the time up making the game. Being tired is really bad when you need to create, or code anything. Let your brain take a rest.
  • Breaks - take breaks on development as many times as you want. They are very efficient, but be careful, your time is running over.
  • Food - eat healthy food during the contest. You don't want to feel nauseas or headache while programming, it will not let you work well. However, it's recommended to eat chocolate, because it gives you pleasure and makes you more relaxed.
  • Drink - to drink is great. I love drinking cold tea or coke. Coffee is also good.
  • Music - listen to music while programming. That's amazing! hehe

This is a simple guide to help you make a game in a little time. I hope it will really help someone as it's very useful to me.


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