Polish and debugging

Here we are! We’ve reached the end of this programme and your games are almost done… or not! It’s ok and, in fact, we encourage you to continue working on your games. For now, let’s look at debugging and polish.

Debugging.

There is no secret to fixing bugs: you have to find where the issue is and come up with a solution. If you are facing a bug in your game, try to follow these steps:

  • replicate the bug to identify where the issue lies and how it happens;
  • take the time to understand the problem;
  • find a fix;
  • prove your fix by attempting to replicate the bug;
  • test your fix and see if it created other issues.

If you feel overwhelmed, there are a few strategies that can help you:

  • Google is your best friend! If you have a problem in your game, chances are other people had the same thing happen.
  • Take a break. When you’ve been staring at your monitor for hours, it’s normal not to see clearly. Go take a walk or have a good night’s sleep. You may just wake up with a solution.
  • Talk to other people about your bug. If no one is around, talk to an object (especially a rubber duck) or write it down. Most of the time, just explaining the problem will let you come up with solutions.

Polish

Polish is what makes your game look and feel nice! This not only applies to art and sound but the unseen things too (such as gameplay tweaks)! It’s what ties together the player’s experience. That could be fixing the gravity in a platformer. Or adding some extra effect to give bullets that extra oomph.

Here is some advice from an incubator mentor, Jill Murray. She proposes this short exercise: What percentage complete would you consider your game to be? No matter what number you come up with, there are two ways to finish it from there: either finish the remaining progress, or scope down your game so your current % is worth much more. She points out a lot of the time having a smaller project that’s finished and has some polish on it feels a lot better than a larger project that doesn’t have any feedback.

We have already talked about scoping in the last weeks, but here is a quick reminder. The next step is to make some decisions: simplify, cut features, and/or polish up what you have. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this feature, enemy, or game choice not absolutely vital to my game?
  • Can my game idea be even simpler?
  • Can I keep my game to one level, area, or endless mode?
  • Is this win or lose condition too complex? Can I make it easier to win or lose?
  • Can I somehow adopt this bug as part of my game?
  • Is anything replaceable with placeholder art or sound?
  • Am I obsessing over this one thing that’s not really important?

We leave you with this video on the GDC Vault that, we hope, will inspire you to finish your game: Juice it or Lose it.

HOMEWORK

  • Finish your game and share it!

It was a real pleasure to do this incubator with you. See you next year!

Posted in Follow Along, News, Pixelles Game Incubator 8
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Pixelles is a non-profit initiative committed to helping more people make and change games. We're based in Montreal, and have already succeeded in building a supportive community of game creators, both hobbyist and professional.

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