Ken's Design & Development Notes

Just talking about stuff I've learned…

Posts Tagged ‘lessons learned

A Few Lessons Learned…

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Image: Boxart for Andy's Notepad [Saucers]

Boxart for Andy’s Notepad [Saucers]

After several months of part-time development, we finally published our first Xbox Live indie game.  It’s been out for just over three weeks now and I’ve learned as much in the last three weeks as I learned in the previous three months! Here are a few of the most important things I learned.

  1. Just because you like your game doesn’t mean everyone else will.
    Reviews for our game have been mixed, ranging from “A” to boring.  No one said it was A+ and no one said it stank.  It has been really interesting to hear the (very limited) feedback.  There are some really helpful points that have been made, but not many reviewers seem to have seen the game the way we do. Maybe we’ve gotten too close to the game?
  2. Reviewers have a different set of goals than developers. 
    Yes, we both want games reviewed, the difference is that I want my game reviewed, and they want to review many games, preferably the types of games that will get them the most mileage.  (This of course depends on the type of reviewer they are, what kinds of reviews they like to write and what their readers like to see.)
    What this really means is that the developer has to make it as easy as possible to review their game, and that no, most critics don’t have the time, or maybe even the desire to help you improve your game.  You’ll sometimes have to read between the lines of a vaguely negative review or ignore what will seem like an incredibly harsh statement to get to the gem of feedback that is offered. That’s OK; just roll with it and improve.
    For the record, at least one reviewer has been nice enough to provide further feedback. IndieTheory comes to mind here…
  3. Don’t release your product until you love it!
    You know, this is probably the most important lesson of all. I loved the multiplayer game in Andy’s Notepad [Saucers], but had gotten used the weapon imbalance.  I didn’t realize that Justin (my Coneware partner) didn’t love the single player mode until after release.  Last our kids had some suggestions that would have improved the game, but somehow we let those get lost in the pressure to release. (Indie devs get pressure to release? Really? Yes, we do.)

For now, that’s what comes to mind.  I could also talk about lessons from gameplay mechanics to the (in?)effectiveness of our marketing but these are my top three, at least for now.

Written by kenccone

July 24, 2012 at 3:21 am