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JavaProgrammer7

Java Game Design

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Hello, I am trying to learn how to design games before I code them as past experience has lead to a very simple game taking too long to complete. I am trying to draw up a set of Use cases for my next game (a tetris clone) but I having trouble defining the actors. I have read many examples in books such as modelling a bank which would have obvious actors such as cashier, manager, customer, supervisor, employee etc. For this game, I can only think of one actor which is Player. Would a class that extends Thread be an actor (i.e for moving the current block down the screen). Is UML sufficient enough to model a game design? Whats the best methodology to use for designing a game? Waterfall? Extreme Programming or something else. Thanks

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You can spend as much or as little time as you want in design. It all depends on how much time you think you should be spending on design vs coding. Typically I like to follow an agile modeling strategy. That's to say I model the least I can get away with and iterate my model as the need arises. Over design can be as much of a problem as lack of design. My main approach is to decide what I need on a data level, then decide how these objects need to work together. I like to express my behaviors in small (policy) classes and express the coupling of behaviors in child classes. This tends to lead to a seperation of functionality and coupling meaning I can shift the design more fluidly (Than mixing coupling into functionality). I think UML is a nice tool to use in design but as I said, be agile. Don't spend your life writing huge class diagrams just for the sake of it. Make sure what you are doing is adding to your ability to write the code. Be high level when you can get away with it and go into fine details on your diagrams if you must. Also remember that UML is a very broad specification and includes more diagrams than just class... Sequence diagrams, Component diagrams, Package diagrams. Each has its use and can sometimes highlight design issues (tight couplings that suggest your objects should be merged, orthogonal behaviors that can be seperated etc). Always remember that design is a tool you use to help you code more easily and see the whole project... it shouldn't be something you slavishly do without thinking even if you don't need to.
Hope this helps,

Dan

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