As part of WN Dev Contest, we are discussing the industry with the jury members. In this installment, we catch up with Roman Zhikharev, QA Director at G-Core Labs.

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Roman Zhikharev

WN Dev Contest is a competition for Unreal Engine game developers. It’s held by WN Media Group in collaboration with Unreal Engine and Reboot Develop.

GWO: What do you think is the biggest mistake fledgling devs can make?

Roman: They don’t necessarily understand that a game, like any business project, should be successful. As a result, they tend to overlook things that are not directly related to the gameplay.

Such as?

Onboarding players. Taking into account the capabilities and motivations of different segments of the potential audience. Supported platforms. Distribution channels. These are just a few of the things devs could completely overlook.

It’s difficult to expect, though, that a beginning developer would have enough expertise to take all these things into account.

Fair enough. This is a lot of competencies. Then again, you don’t have to be an expert on everything these days. The world does not stand still. Today, various platforms and publishers can tackle some of these tasks, and others you can outsource (for example, testing).

But it’s one thing not to understand something and it’s quite another to ignore it. It’s up to the developer to make organizational decisions. So they need to think about the project’s business plan and not just make a game.

There must be a downside to this business approach? 

Of course there is. The market is rife with imitations these days. This is because devs and publishers adopt the same safe business processes that prevent them from taking risks and investing in experimental and innovative types of gameplay.

So it’s great that large gaming companies hold game contests. In my opinion, it’s an excellent opportunity for young developers to explore new types of gameplay, and for publishers to look for future hits.

Cheers to that. But you know how inexperienced devs, especially those who have already secured initial funding and support from publishers, tend to overestimate their strengths? And then, before you know it, they get all their scheduling wrong. Any advice on how to avoid that?

That’s exactly why it’s still important to treat games as a business.

As for the words of advice: to avoid falling into the trap of deadlines, you need to consider the entire project before starting development. Estimate your resources, the time you have.

Then, if in the middle of the development process, you realize that you are falling behind, you want to start cutting features / content / art. This is what agile development is all about. How to figure out which parts to cut? That’s what product management is for.

Lastly, what games are you looking for in the contest? 

Personally, I would like to see a game with interesting gameplay. We would help it reach better quality. We would suggest what to modify. We are all avid gamers, not just testers. We know what’s what.

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