When are you done with your game’s development?
The quick answer is you are done when your schedule says you are done. Another is, you are done when you finished your ‘checklist’ of items for the game.
Let’s talk about something that always happens as you are finishing your checklists. The realization that there are more things to add to the checklist. Happens every single time so let’s not argue it! You know it and I do too.
Given that, what do you do and how do you finish? The answer is you must look at the intended spirit of the game you are making and decide if you are hitting that. This is not always simple but it is your best solution. For instance, you might want to make a fun arena shooter with a medieval theme. You might not have implemented those trebuchet weapons yet, but does what you have hit those main parameters? If it does, could your game be considered done? It’s something to think about.
Many times your game will not be done according to your initial scoping and that is when you will be making decisions about expanding or removing existing systems. This can be tough but if your game has some focus and if the high level goal of the game is clear you can make the process much easier.
Here’s some development backstory from my personal experience on Boss 101. Currently we are targeting the end of 2015 at the moment. I could expand on this thinking a lot but the short story is we are a super small team and the polish we believe the game needs is taking time. There have been a few systems which, during the initial design and planning seemed awesome, but during play testing and real world application didn’t hit the mark. We felt if we left those alone they would bring down the game as a whole so the only choice was a) take it out, or b) adjust it. Either one of those options is fine for us as long as we are not losing the spirit of the game (fun experience, cool story, great moments, etc). Most of the time we are simply taking the extra time to round out the system to work well in the game and not feel awkward or shoehorned.
No dev team, please believe me, no team wants a game to languish in development. We want you and everyone to play our game and really like it. We actually would love to create a classic. Will it be? Maybe! For that to happen we have to be willing to go the extra mile. I’m not talking about ‘eternal development’ but true polish.
I’ve been working in video games well over 24 years and been in games/toys business for almost 30 years. That’s a long time. The big winners tend to be those willing to put in the time and correct mistakes. Good enough doesn’t always cut it. My opinion is the developer is always in love with their product and willing to forgive its faults. That rapidly drops off the moment people are paying any amount (whether money or time) for their product. The only way to counter that is to not compromise and work your rear-end off making something amazing and have nothing in the tank when you are finished. I say GO ALL IN! We would want you and our customers to care too. Not out of sympathy but ‘cause you think it will rock!
Think about that the next time you are wrapping up or at a crossroads. What is the spirit of your game and are you hitting it. If not, how can you get back on track quickly!
As always, live your dreams!