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how do you feel about releasing a game before it's finished?

08-28-2009, 06:36 PM
#1
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
how do you feel about releasing a game before it's finished?

Thanks to the app store submission process, it's easier than ever to release updates for your game. I've noticed that a lot of devs seems to be releasing their game when it's just ok but not yet great then by update 1.5 or so suddenly they've got something special on their hands.

I could go ahead and release my game knowing that a week from now it'll be even better and more polished. I'm worried that first impression is the most important so once people play it any updates I release wont have the same kind of impact.

So I guess I'm wondering whether it's better to just release your game when it's "done" or when it's "fun". And how do you know when a game's done anyway since there's always room for improvement?
08-28-2009, 09:11 PM
#2
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 439
First impressions are really important imo... I think we've learned the hard way that polish and presentation are more important than the gameplay itself. All the little things... the way the menus are... the font etc... all matter a lot...

It really depends on your goals, deadlines etc... I'd say take your time and put in a decent amount of polish... however if you find that no matter how long you're taking you're "never" finished... then you might decide to go ahead and release the game...

We've decided to hold back on releasing our new game until we've got more polish... the game is already done in terms of gameplay... however, the presentation isn't as good as it good be...

08-28-2009, 10:01 PM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by arkanigon View Post
First impressions are really important imo... I think we've learned the hard way that polish and presentation are more important than the gameplay itself. All the little things... the way the menus are... the font etc... all matter a lot...

It really depends on your goals, deadlines etc... I'd say take your time and put in a decent amount of polish... however if you find that no matter how long you're taking you're "never" finished... then you might decide to go ahead and release the game...

We've decided to hold back on releasing our new game until we've got more polish... the game is already done in terms of gameplay... however, the presentation isn't as good as it good be...
+1 to that. Menus, screen transitions, layout of buttons (do they line up, are they sized the same), does the screen "flow"? Lots of little polish details that are overlooked by some developers are vital.

If you have a playable, fairly well polished game, there is no shame in releasing it and then soliciting comments for improvements and additions to it. I thought Rogue Touch 1.0 was pretty well polished, but man, after a quite a few threads here of several hundred posts each it grew into something much more polished than I would have come up with if I'd just delayed it and tinkered with it for a couple more months

As you say, no game is ever truly "finished" but the app store lets us go back and make a good game into a great game by taking feedback and releasing upgrades.

--- ChronoSoft ---
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08-28-2009, 10:49 PM
#4
I've never released a game that I didn't consider "finished". It was finished by being betatested. Betatesters help you so much and can spot all those little things that you can't and they add the wonderful attribute of contributing their own creativity. So, if they like it, you know your game is "finished" enough.
08-29-2009, 01:02 AM
#5
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
yeah seriously. don't put out something unless it has a significant level of polish. I don't think it has to be "the ubergame" but it should absolutely meet a minimum requirement checklist (all stuff mentioned above, and more).

We put our 1st game doing something rather simple and in some ways paid for it (not a ton of downloads) - but it was important for us to do that so we could gauge the entire process. Now we are on the next project and we absolutely have a much clearer idea of what to expect from every element of the process, from initial conception to app store submission and the whole PR process and so on. Now we have a much better idea how to do everything and it will help us build a better (and more advanced) product - and we have a complete game already sitting out there, whose sales could potentially be buoyed by further successful releases.
08-29-2009, 05:12 AM
#6
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
beta testing wouldnt be a bad idea but I've been playtesting it myself for about a month and there's no shortage of ideas on how to make it better which is part of the problem.

guess I made the mistake of doing a sort of complicated game so maybe people will be more forgiving that it's pretty bare bones

I doubt I'll ever make the front of TA though
08-29-2009, 12:19 PM
#7
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 109
Couple of things any sensible dev needs to consider is a) how unique is your IP, b) how easily your app can be copied from a technical standpoint and c) your ability to innovate and execute on updates.

The issue of uniqueness and timing always needs to be considered. As we like to joke around at our office, if you've thought of an app idea, someone's already released it or are in submission with that app. But if you have something unique, you should definitely devote enough time to incubate and execute on the idea. You should also always be on the lookout for apps that could encroach on your territory, so to speak.

Once you release the app, you need to consider how easy it would be for another dev to copy your app. If you're doing something relatively simple in 2D, you can be sure that someone will be doing a knock-off version, especially if you get any level of traction on the App Store.

Lastly, how soon will you be able to get an update out? Will you be prolific as the Pocket God guys? Will you have cool updates? And when I say updates, I mean not just bug fixes but stuff that gives value to the game?

As a hypothetical example, do you guys think that Spider would have been successful as it was if it only had one level? What if they were unable to update it for months or at all? I think we can make a reasonable guess on that outcome.

Bottom line - if a dev isn't doing a blatant ripoff like the fools that did iFlighter, they'll most likely steal your ideas and potentially even profit from it.

Rōnin game developer.

Last edited by yas; 08-30-2009 at 04:50 AM.
08-29-2009, 02:44 PM
#8
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
all the stuff yas has mentioned, definitely concerns me. we've got a really fresh idea for our next app and it absolutely falls under the category of "this could very easily be copied." How to prevent this? Well, the best defense is spend the time to layer enough TLC into the project in the first place so that people won't feel the need to buy a knockoff (even if it's a buck cheaper). Yeah, some bigger company (ahem Popca... never mind!) might come along and steal your idea and get mega rich off of your work, but how likely is that?
08-29-2009, 07:30 PM
#9
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 2,699
I am not a developer, but I noticed certain pattern in customer behaviour. Marketing is essential. There are so many good games that don't get noticed simply because in the saturated AppStore they appear in "New releases" for half a day and after that are gone never to be seen again. Advertising may be expensive but exposure is really important. I think it is ok to release a product that doesn't have all the features you want it to have as long as it gets updates which add to value (as was mentioned before). Customers love that. They will feel that they are getting value for money. If you release a complete product 3 months later, it may not (ironically) sell so well because it may not have the same level of exposure. Unless you have a runaway success like Spider, you need to employ strategies, like giving interviews about your product, asking for reviews, being active on forums. These are just my observations. There are so many good games that I notice only when they have price drops or go free. They could have sold very well if only the devs made a concerted effort to market them.
These are just my observations.
08-29-2009, 08:22 PM
#10
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
All you've said is completely sound and I absolutely agree with it. Not enough devs concentrate on the work that must be done after creation of the actual game is completed - it's at that point that the second half of the workload must commence!