All indie game developers have one objective: create games that users like and, hopefully, make some money in the process.
Given the evolution of development platforms and the free distribution; create a game has become a game itself. With minimum capabilities of graphical development, elementary knowledge of programming and sound editing; the creation of video games is within the reach of everyone. The only limitation is your creativity, your talent and the time you can dedicate to the task. But many of us ignore or overlooked that the creation of a game is a complex project involving clearly identified processes: each with a huge importance.
Many of us, when we started, undertake the development without taking into account these stages, mixing them or jumping points, improvising or going back to previous points and re-writing or redoing work. But there is a "script" of work for each multimedia product that you can produce. This is not something new, is something that even Big Films Producers apply in their projects. A methodology based on the experience and acknowledgment and that certainly makes the difference between the success or failure of a production or, at least, in your development time. As your time is your most valuable investment. I consider important to share my appreciation and my experience as a Lean Sig Sigma "Green Belt" and as Coordinator and Leader of Oniralia Games.
1.) What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma is a methodology which, generally speaking, is used to improve both industrial processes and services in big companies and corporations. It has a very specific set of work, tools and specialized techniques in order to streamline processes and save costs of time and resources without never losing sight of the consumer or customer needs. I will not go too deeply, but if anyone is interested, there is a lot of information:
The pillar of the Six Sigma methodology is known by its acronym: The DMAIC process. Corresponding to the words: DEFINE, MEASURE, ANALYCE, IMPROVE and CONTROL. Although it seems far from video game development, the DMAIC process has many common points with the established multimedia development.
That's my purpose: to describe you the common points.
2.) What are the stages of a video game creation?
Many of you know it.
And some of you are applying it. Not following the correct order and not always strictly according to the phases. Pre-production - development - post-production. A bad planning in the first phase can give you problems in the second and a lot of delay the last two. The last phase is also crucial, because within it you will discover errors in the production phase. If the last phase of post-production is done wrong, the product can be delivered to the user with a lot of bugs...
(3) A Six Sigma development phases.
In the diagram you can see graphically the Six Sigma development phases of a project:
The definition phase:
Establish clearly what the problem facing us. We consider the consequences of it and approach us to the possible root cause.
The measurement phase:
Look for the metric observing the process to improve and taking all the valuable data for the next phase.
The analysis phase:
We examined the metric and look for correlations. Our goal is to find the root cause of the problem. Once found, our goal is to alter the metric, implementing the necessary improvements.
The Improvement phase:
Implement modifications and changes in the process. These modifications will be to modify the metrics obtained and achieve the necessary results: a process improved and optimized.
The Control Phase:
Using the metrics obtained and managing them, analysing the new results, establish the stability of the changes and their sustainability. But... What that means with video game development? The goal now is to mix the two concepts, the two procedures, and elaborate an enhanced scheme that will help in the development of our own products!
(4) Methodology Six Sigma + Multimedia methodology.
We are going now to mix the two concepts. Most of you (development purists) may think that this is bullshit, but I'm sure that it can help. More than that: I think that could be helpful. Because if we apply what follows, it´s possible that your work gets better results.
It is the moment to define clearly our game. Which users are it intended for? What range of ages? What tastes? What does our game as a novelty? If there is something similar how we can improve it or re - write it? At this stage of pre-production, we use the Six Sigma methodology because we define the characteristics of our product. Let clear many things that will save us much work further. The definition is our work here: exactly as we would develop a LSS project.
B) - Phase 2 - pre-production (MEASURE) Is the time to measure the parameters from the previous session. How much users consume the kind of game that you want to do? Which social groups have more success? What ages? In which countries? What lifetime has your kind of game? Why other products stand out? What case studies there are and what information we can get from them? Fortunately, there are many websites that provide this information. But you also have the option to investigate for yourselves, with patience and time. The goal: get all the possible information.
C) - PHASE 3 - PRE-PRODUCTION (ANALYZE) In this phase, we ANALYZE the results of our research. YOUR first phase (the definition) can be altered dramatically with the results found. Maybe you change all the gameplay that you had planned. Or maybe change even the gender or the monetization model. The data obtained are the pillars on which already the basis of your future final draft shall be recorded. The analysis phase must be careful because in it we could find the keys that make the difference between a resounding flop or a success.
(D) - 4 PHASE - PRODUCTION (IMPROVE/IMPLEMENT) Phase of development. The longest time and the shorter explain! Here the team starts to work hard. Many of you already know this phase! We prepare and gather all the elements: code, music, sound FX, graphics... Without losing sight and always keeping in mind the provisions of phases A, B and C. And we created our product. But has not yet reached the end... Isn't it?
(E) - 5 PHASE - POSTPRODUCTION (IMPROVE/IMPLEMENT) It is the moment of the final testing. It is correct and enhance errors in code, graphics and sound... It is also optimized the app, provide "fair weight" and also assess the effect on some selected users.
(F) - 6 PHASE - (RELEASE) (IMPLEMENT) Our goal is reaching its final stage: the publication. Even at this stage we must take into account the parameters of phases A, B and C. Because distribution platform also will have had in mind in them.
G) - 7 PHASE - (MONITORING / CONTROL) From here users rule! Your feedback is so important that you can make your game a success or a failure. We should focus on the objective, concrete and productive views, whether good or bad. It is a good practice to correct.
Do not abandon your project once launched on the distribution platforms: Maybe you have still a lot to improve.
This is also the phase of promotion and advertising of your game. But before that, make sure that your product is well built:
Based on the opinions of users!
Two things will happen:
Or your product does not need to change. It is accepted by the majority. People play and share. Your product extends and ,if you push a little "extra help" to promote, your success is guaranteed. Your work in the phases A, B and C is well done!
Or your product does not come out ahead. While some users like and give favourable views, is not as well accepted by the user community as expected. Something has failed in the process! Good: is time to correct or consider new options!
You know it: The work of an indie developer never ends! //ONIRALIA´S TEAM