Over my 35+ years of game development there are a few things I have learned, so here are a couple of tips.
Organize your projects all in one folder, with subfolders for graphics, code, documents and tools etc. the graphics folder is again sub divided into PSDs, renders, 3d files, textures, fonts and maps. Make as many sub folders as necessary, keeping everything compartmentalised. The advantages of this are that you only have to back up the root folder and nothing gets missed. Another advantage is that things are easy to locate, as you never know when you will need that file again or you may finish you game and decide to make another version on a different platform a year or so later. I started Tonga in 2007 then dug it out again in 2009 did a few versions and then just recently in 2011 did the mobile versions.
Get some free off site space, like Google drive or Drop box and do a daily back up to there, as that way if there’s a hard drive failure or act of god you are only a day or so behind. I can’t stress enough backup, back up and backup again. In the old days I just rumbled on coding creating with no backups then I lost a few months’ work with a hard drive failure and the deadline was looming, panicking at 12 am running around with drives in the freezer trying to recover files is not much fun I can tell you.
I have also found over the years to get feedback early I know how hard it is to let your master piece out of the door and show people, but is a necessary step to know where the problems lay. I would suggest that you don’t sit and explain how to play or what to do, but rather if you can just stand and watch them play, you will learn much more by watching than explaining, for me if I need to explain anything then there is something I need to add to the game or something is not as intuitive as I imagined.
It is hard to take criticism and sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own development world, but we are not making it for us we are making it for the users, so listen and watch then think about it, they may be wrong they may be right, either way just going through this process will be worth it in the end.
Recently I decided to port one of Tonga to the iPhone of all things, so I started looking into mobile SDKs, I had heard good things about marmalade from a friend so I thought I would check it out, and I discovered they had the apps program where I could get a free developers licence for a year and a signing bonus, so that was the obvious choice.
I was easy for me to join the program as I already had a pc copy of the game so marmalade could see the game, and marmalade responded in just a few days. I was surprised how good the SDK was, I had been used to SDKs where there is a lot of setting up to get things integrated into the development environment, however with Marmalade it was just a matter of installing and compiling with my favourite environment Visual Studio.
Another thing that I often show other people when I talk about marmalade, is that once you have your code compiling, you can test it on your development machine in the simulator, which runs at full speed, unlike the java ones I have used in the past.
For me the best part of the marmalade system is that it’s simple to send it to your development devices, just select the release target, press run and you are presented with the deployment tool, which will package and send your games to the target device.
You should check it out @ madewithmarmalade.com