It’s not a secret that game developers are constantly starting new projects. There isn’t a game developer, or development company that doesn’t have a large stack of unfinished projects under their banner. It’s almost a necessity for developers that comes as part of the job. We personally wouldn’t hire any developer that said they’d never abandoned a project (because we don’t want liars on our team ;D). But there are some sound and understandable reasons why this phenomena occurs and repeats itself, and that’s what we would like to address here! Food for thought if nothing else..
Developers will be half way into completing a game when a brilliant blinding idea comes flying in. It’s almost as if the timer is on from the second the game is underway until the new idea comes in!
But Why is that?
Well, simply put, because game development is so much fun! It’s one of the best types of work to be involved in and the development is always dynamic: from extreme stress and rage, to bliss and hysteria. If your experience in game development isn’t like this, you can stop reading now (click here to exit).
Developing games is somewhat like building from an ever changing, adaptable and flexible blueprint. Because new features can and will be added to the design, some features will also be removed. When enough features have moved, they create what we call an Idea Combustion – a chemical reaction that formulates… A New Game Idea.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Because one of the undeniable facts about game development is that, devs don’t know if the game is fun until they play it! So imagine working on a game that seemed so much more fun when being designed, then playing it… Or even if it does manage to meet expectations, after playing the same thing 10, 20, 30 times, the dev gets somewhat desensitised to it. The idea of the game, as it begins to take shape and manifest, just isn’t as new and exciting anymore. The lure of the new idea however, still fresh with the endless possibilities and infused with a fresh batch of excitement is at times irresistible.
Thus, one project is abandoned and another is started… And the process begins again. This double edged sword is what usually stops a game developer from ever finishing a game. However, this sometimes does in fact save devs from wasting time and effort on a project that honestly had no future in the industry. It’s a precarious balance of good design, good luck and good timing.
So what are the Solutions?
As soon as we really understand the issue, the solution is simple.
Ideas, when conceptualised, usually come with so much extra weight that really isn’t needed. Feature Creep. This can happen at any stage in the process, from conception to marketing. That’s right, even marketers suffer from Feature Creep! It’s just when more features find their way into the design. Perfectly natural behaviour, but each addition increases the development time and project scope:
- Player must be able to jump
- Player will have a high jump if held down
- Player will have a high jump if held down, and double jump if pressed twice
- Player will be able to glide in the air
- Player will be able to attack while in jump, but not in glide or second jump
Well, no doubt this article won’t change the world. It’s just an opinion. And even if the information was all perfect, it won’t stop us devs starting and not finishing great projects. We’re going to keep building that unfinished games folder until we need yet another hard drive for ‘Old/Unfinished Projects’ – either that or upload it to Github for some other lucky dev to use!
We can minimise the effects of Idea Combustion by directing the energy and enthusiasm created into a less disruptive and time consuming activity. Create a game design document, a very detailed document that lists every area of the game. Then, proceed to write out the pseudo code for the classes, etc. The excitement will soon burn down and the idea will be put to the test to see whether it is as fantastic as it first seemed.
We can maximise our chances to complete games by completing it in its simplest form as quickly as possible. It is the best and most effective method we have found yet. The games are built in a modular fashion, so that features are easily added or removed as necessary.
A note on success
Dripping Water can eat through stone.
A note on marketing
Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.