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Lately I have found myself browsing Unity3D's asset store and in the complete projects and I was thinking if it is more effective

  • to get for example an infinite runner template and start building up,

  • or to think and plan ahead everything and then start working on it.

Let's assume that this was not for your job or main job to make everyone think clearer and without barriers

For me both choices have their pros and cons.

Freestyle / improvisation style

Pros:

  • can be more creative and more fun

  • might be more successful

  • better for one man bands / solo projects

Cons:

  • time consuming

  • might be unsuccessful

  • not efficient when working in teams

Plan ahead style

Pros:

  • better time management

  • clear goals

  • no missdirections

  • more professional

Cons:

  • can be less fun

  • greater failure

The real question here is mostly to share your experience and the results you had if you ever worked over in any of these 2 ways described, and how you handled the situation regarding the work flow in each way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I have always 'free-styled' in the past but I never got ANYTHING done. Now I'm actually doing a huge amount of planning before I even start coding. I suppose it is largely up to the person and quite opinion based (this question may be better for the chat) but you're definitely gonna need some form of beforehand planning before you start on your project. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1 '13 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe these opinion based questions with no clear authoritative answer are not appropriate for this site. You may want to head to the FAQ to see how you could rewrite your question so it fits the format of this site better. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1 '13 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ True. I will change a bit cause it is a bit unclear the question in the end. Thanks for pointing out. \$\endgroup\$
    – NikosX
    Oct 1 '13 at 11:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is still asking for opinions/subjective experiences. Perhaps, if this is even possible, a bibliography backed answer might be OK, but, at the moment, this is not really implied. (You mad some assumptions that are vague, too general or downright unconvincing - perhaps you should consider taking this question to a chat session). \$\endgroup\$
    – teodron
    Oct 1 '13 at 11:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm, unless you state a clear problem which has a clear solution, like "how do I do *******?", your question is very likely going to be closed. How about bringing it to the chat? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1 '13 at 11:47
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When you are working together with others, you definitely should write concept documents to make sure everyone knows where the project is going. You might have a vision, your partners might have a vision, but it might not be obvious at first that it isn't necessarily the same one.

But even when you work alone, thinking before you act is usually a good idea. Planning your software architecture beforehand and always keeping your planned features in mind while programming usually results in better and more maintainable code than just hacking together stuff as you go.

But never forget that the requirements of a game are much less set in stone than when you develop business software. Business software is made to solve a specific problem, so they usually have a long list of requirements to fulfill. The only requirement a game has to fulfill is being fun to play. But what is fun to play?

It's hard to tell which concepts will be fun and which won't. Experience and gut feeling help, but in the end you need to play a game to know if it works, and to play a game you need to develop it first. That means that a certain flexibility is always required in game development process. When you realize that a game feature you developed isn't as fun as you thought it was, you should be prepared to revise your concept document and see how you can remove or redesign the feature. Adopting some form of agile software development process, like Scrum for example, can help to organize the development of a project where the concept is not set in stone.

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