ExtraCredits is a really good youtube channel for anyone who is interested in making games. Today I saw this video on their GameDesign playlist. It gave some amazing tips as listed below. This is just a summary for those crazy people who prefer reading instead of watching videos, like me :)
1) Don't plan a project that will take you more than a month
This is a great point. After years of having dropped projects, prototypes and trying to do too many things, or everything that excites me at the moment. I guess this is a must follow.
2) Its gonna take you more than a month, if you plan for a month.
Haha, yes, so true. But don't panic, but if you hit 3 months, its time to revisit.
3) Don't spend too much time designing
Don't spend too much time designing stuff you don't know if you can build yet. Experience is way more valuable than end result at a beginner level game designer, indie experience.
4) Set milestones - every week
This is going to be a deal breaker if you miss it. It is so important to keep track of how good your estimation skills are, and how much time you actually can dedicate for your project.
5) Break milestones - if something takes more than a week, break it into smaller ones.
The main advantage of this is already mentioned in the previous point, but a more important advantage is you feeling closer to the end result and having a sense of momentum and progress.
6) Send yourself producer emails - what you did, and what you plan to do this week
This is what makes points 4 and 5 valid and trackable, and as you progress, imagine being able to look back at your own reports and learning from your production experience.
7) Review the game at least once a week
Just 30 mins will do. It is easy to forget where you are especially, if your day job or school gets in way. Warning : Its really common to let 2 weeks slip by - and MOST people give up when that happens due to a feeling of no progress gets in your mind.
8) Don't worry about production values - looks, sounds good is not as important as you think
Because these are distractions truly, until you ship a couple of titles out on the web or any platform. There are tons of games which look ugly and still has a player base.
9) Don't spend more than 1 hours, trying to do anything yourself
Stuck? - above 1 hour - look up tutorials/existing solutions. You don't want to learn to build everything. If you do, time to think, do you really want to build games, or just understand how things works and become a specialist.
10) Make people play your game, early and often to get feedback, doesn't have to be complete
The best advice I got for this point is from this article by 2dBoy.
Personal notes - This is specific to only certain cultures. Most of your friends will not give you honest feedback to not hurt your feelings, especially if you are a little "pussy boy nice guy". Most people might leave your game in 10 seconds, if you were not standing behind their shoulders. So playtest it with kids, or people who you don't know etc. And don't be too nice when you ask them for it, because you will make it awkward for them to say no, or say negative things.
So a very valid place to find feedback is on the internet. Here is where things get tricky, its really good to be hated than being ignored. And most people on the internet have very low attention span, so the game that you put months of effort into is just another free game for them. And it is not their fault, it is your responsibility to catch their attention in the first 10 seconds and hold it.
And you will be ignored. A lot! Especially if you put the game to the wrong audience, which is what marketing is all about. So make sure you don't get disheartened because you barged on this facebook group just to promote your prototype and everybody didn't just play your game immediately and give feedback, stopping everything they are doing in their life.
Happy game making :)