Hello folks - once again I must begin with an apology for the delay since we last spoke. As you can imagine with our launch on iOS devices approaching, we're all hands on deck to make sure things go as swimmingly as possible.
Today I'd like to give you a little insight into how content and features are put into the game. Hopefully this will give you some kind of idea on the process our team goes through, and help you understand why sometimes it's not quite as easy as coming up with a good idea and throwing it straight into the game!
Obviously, it all starts with an idea. The idea itself might be sparked by a discussion between us here in the office, a moment of inspiration whilst making a cup of tea (you might laugh, but it does happen!) or from reading community feedback on the game's Facebook App Page. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, the feedback we've been getting on the app page has proven incredibly useful for us, and as a designer it's always a good idea to listen to people, whatever they might have to say about your work!
It's never quite as simple as then putting that idea into the game, though. First of all, you have to ask yourself what your idea would achieve if it went live. Can you make a good case to the rest of the team that your new feature - something they'll have to spend time working on - will make the game better? Are you confident that your new idea won't unbalance another area of the game? If so then that's the first hurdle jumped and you can then start planning all the various facets that will need to be created for your idea.
It's at this point that the idea splits itself between three groups; code, design and art. The coders set about putting in the back end groundwork that the data and art are manipulated by, so presenting your idea to them as clearly as possible from the very start is handy. Whilst this is happening, you work on putting in all the relevant numbers into the game's database and an artist sets about creating menu screens, icons and various assets to present the feature as snazzily as possible.
As you can imagine, having good communication on the team is a very important factor in this whole process. Having a clear vision of your planned feature is important, but it's no use being overly precious as often during the creation process someone might notice something they feel could be tweaked or improved. Just because someone's job title doesn't say 'designer' doesn't mean that they can't have valuable input on design matters - we're all gamers after all!
Once the feature is code complete, has a set of balanced data and some lovely presentation to go along with it then that's it, surely? Actually, no - the most important part of the process now happens: QA testing. During this stage any unforeseen issues can be ironed out and any balancing tweaks made before the feature is set to go live. Of course, QA testing doesn't just involve feature testing; engine optimisations and new content are two big areas for Evil Genius Online, and they both need testing too.
If a feature is particularly big, we are fortunate to have a very helpful beta test group to run through things and help us iron out any final kinks. It's really useful to have a group of regular players who are familiar with the team and what we're aiming for with the game, and the communication we have with them has helped us shape the game for the better.
As EGO is an online game, the above process is cyclical. We continue to think of new ideas for features, content and optimisation before putting them into action, having them tested and then rolling them out to you guys to play around with. It's a fun, challenging environment to be a part of and one that does require a good deal of communication and organisation - something we like to think here at EGO towers we're very good at as a team.
Anyway, that's enough for this week's instalment - I have another of those new feature ideas to work on! Next time I'll go into a little more detail on what it is, but until then keep on racking up the gold, making John Steele look like a buffoon and tightening your evil grip on the world.