In part 1 I took a high level overview of the game. In this part, I’ll get to why I shipped the game if I recognised that it wasn’t that great. Why not try to make it better first?
It is impossible to over-emphasise how important finishing something is for two important reasons. One, the purely practical one of learning what’s involved. Icons, screenshots, videos, descriptions, metadata, marketing—there’s a lot of work and knowing what’s involved lets me plan better for it in future.
As for number two: I have a screenplay in my writing ideas file that has been sitting there since University. It’s about 60 pages long—so about halfway done—and it’s about zombies. It was a good idea, too. I think about it to this day and I can still see the potential in it.
I was writing about zombies 15 years ago. That’s two years before issue 1 of The Walking Dead hit the comic book stores. Imagine if I’d finished this thing not long after starting it—I’d have a completed screenplay ready and waiting just as our culture started its current obsession with the undead.
That’s what happens when you don’t ship. You miss a deadline. Then another. Then another. Then it’s fifteen years later and you’re another shmoe sitting at the bar nursing a whiskey and cursing Robert Kirkman for stealing your idea.
I don’t want to be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.
But it’s easy to be him. I have a dozen experiences in my 35 years just like this. A mountain of half-finished evidence sits on my hard drive to prove it. And it almost happened again here.
After doing the first 100 hours in less than a month, I gave myself the extra 100 hours to finish it off and it took me an additional 4 months to get the damn thing out. The momentum was gone.
I want to make games but not shipping a game is not making games. You only make games when you release it in some form—until then you tinker.
I also believe that something magical happens when you say to yourself this thing is done and you put it out in the world. Your subconscious does some voodoo and you level up.
You are able to see everything that is wrong with your game without crying into the keyboard. Better than that, you feel good about it. You look at this thing you made, say to yourself “It’s fine, but I know can do better”, and you get right back to work feeling energised. You’re eager to get on to the next thing and apply the lessons instead of feeling the impossible, paralysing weight of a fifteen year old project.
I am a level 2 game developer now, not because I made a game, but because I shipped the damn thing and claimed the XP.