“Project G” Development Log: Part 3
Placeholders: The Game
Finally the time has come to start actually coding your game. Whether you’re a one man band or a team, blocking out your game with placeholder graphics is a good approach to get you started. Unity comes with a variety of standard shapes in 3D and 2D that can be used to block out your game until your graphic assets become available. So no excuses, get coding! Many of my early 3D games featured the infamous “Player Cube” weeks into development until the actual character was supplied.
With Project G the first step for us was to lay down the basic topology of the game. By this I mean the menu flow, and scene navigation. I set up the scenes we’d need, added some very basic menu navigation between them and built the game to make sure I could move between the scenes and that the menus were displaying correctly. Although Unity’s structure makes this a handy task to do later, I always like to take care of this first. I imagine it’s like building a house; you shouldn’t really start painting walls until the foundations have been laid.
Functionality Over Form!
Next I open the scene that will become my first level and start creating the games functionality. I generally start by adding the player to the scene, in this case the green triangle, and implement player actions one by one. I say generally because I would always recommend starting with your games most difficult mechanic, which usually has something to do with the player. If you concentrate on getting this worked out first it can really motivate you to complete the rest of the project.
A major advantage to creating your game with simple placeholders is that you will be able to play it very quickly. And more importantly others can play it. Generally speaking it’s a good test of your game mechanics whether or not its fun to play without any fancy graphics. If it’s not at least somewhat fun at this stage, then graphics are not going to change anything down the road. So be brave and let people play your early blocky builds, it can only benefit your game down the line.