How to make successful student games

I’m almost done with DigiPen. Time to write down some learned lessons. I was only at DigiPen for two years, so others could probably write this better, but until they do there is this post. In both years I was in the most successful game team of the Master’s program, which is my claim to being qualified to write this post. So here are a couple rules, starting with

1. Gameplay first

This is the first point on Blizzard’s mission statement, and they mean “prioritize gameplay.” Do that. But for student games I consider it even more important to interpret that as “work on gameplay first.” The biggest mistake I have seen on student games is wasting time on features that don’t improve gameplay in the end. You do not have time for a student game.

Now how do you finish gameplay first?  Obviously you need tech to do your gameplay. If you want to make a physics-based puzzle platformer, someone has to implement your physics. But I would consider it a mistake to work on the physics until you know that it will result in good gameplay. Which is a problem.

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