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October 15, 2012



I agreed with most everything, but I also think it could be used as a poor excuse to rush a mediocre project out the door without taking time that you do have to polish it.
What I'm saying isn't applicable to contracted work, because those do have hard deadlines, but I think it's better to extend a personal deadline for a few weeks or months if you know you can greatly improve the product.
Regardless, still definitely sharing this with other devs I know, and my own team. =D

Bram Stolk

I agree that long term polishing is not always required.
I've published quite a few games.
My biggest hit (The Little Crane That Could) now has 3.5M downloads, but the first 1.0 release was incomplete.

I published it without sound, with a really intrusive techno score which could not be switched off, with very few levels, and a whole range of shortcomings.

The core gameplay was rock solid though, and many people got hooked playing it. It was a hit right from the start.

My 1.0 release got a lot of feedback, but one user,who seemed to be a QA pro, summed up all the things that were wrong with it. I never had such an incredibly useful user feedback. I listened, and fixed pretty much his entire list.

To this day, the game keeps selling well.

An early release without polish paid off for me in that case. I would advice against years of polish.
But having said that, I feel that some of my other games were released too soon which hurt their performance.

James Hofmann

I've been doing indie games for about 2.5 years now, and - for the most part - each go around I've gotten faster at shipping something. (When this isn't the case, it's because there's some hold up at the business end or the early feedback has already warranted extra time) There is an end point to speed, though, and I've hit it. It's the 48 hour game jam project.

If you do one of those, and it gets a few users really excited, at that point it's worth it to start thinking about expansion. (In my case, this LD entry had someone playing for two months: www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/595772 )

The only problem with game jam projects is that they're over so fast, and the results tend to be so frail, that it takes a while to figure out how scope should be increased, and the increase can be enough to radically change everything.

And there are projects that take longer to realize themselves fully...however I think with most of those, getting to MVP is a question of successfully making/applying technology, and not prototyping the game design. If you build solid tech but then cheaply prototype on top of it, the prototype can be swapped out to something else using the same tech very quickly; so cost accounting it is really an issue of how much you're willing to experiment with a given set of tech.

Also, I've failed a ton. It is nothing short of miraculous that I've been able to keep going at it long enough to learn these lessons.


"If you fail, I will like you more." There are rare examples of someone's first game becoming a fantastic hit, like Fez. But there are even more examples of people who failed or had only mild success for years, before they eventually created an amazing, hit game - Minecraft, Super Meat Boy.

You can try and risk at all on one huge project - but wouldn't you rather take that risk when you've spent time recognizing your flaws and improving your abilities?

Beige Turner

This was a great read. I just wanted to mention that games like Braid, Fez, and Super meat boy were not these developers first games. They "failed" or I like to say practiced, on multiple earlier titles. Ed (smb) has been very open on these othee works too.


I can agree with all of the above. I have had just as much success with a game i wrote in 6 days on my own as I have with a game I developed with 2 other team members over nine months.

interestingly I have iterated twice on the 6 day game and released both and have not iterated at all on the 9 month project.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game