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Message to devs: Please read

01-27-2009, 05:26 PM
#1
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Wouldn't you like to know ;)
Posts: 2,632
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Message to devs: Please read

I'm unsure if this is the right place, but regardless. I would love it if more devs decided to, rather than begin a new game immediately, to focus on improving their current games. I mean, some devs make a decent game, with tons of potential, and leave it as it is, and release something else. It may or may not be in the dev's best financial interest to continue with a game, that they will only get a set amount or revenue from, but will help you with customers in the long run. I cannot over state this. What do you other devs think? Is it a better idea to leave a game that a customer has paid for, just as it is, with missing features and move on, or to make that game as good as it can be, and continue support for it, first?
01-27-2009, 05:37 PM
#2
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 722
If the game is unfinished, it should get finished. Otherwise I think it's just best (ideally, but probably not financially...) to completely finish the game before it's released.

01-27-2009, 05:38 PM
#3
Midnight Status games are constantly updated. Debris has been updated 5 times since December (with meaningful changes too ) and Cosmosis has already had 2 updates in as many weeks. In fact, it is in a developer's financial interest to update their games. The sales of a game increase as it becomes more polished. First week sales are nothing to go by. I suppose some people think if they don't hit it the first week they should give up. This is not the case. This is a new generation of development where apps/games are more like services than end products. Constant evolution is a must.
01-27-2009, 05:46 PM
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by brewstermax View Post
I'm unsure if this is the right place, but regardless. I would love it if more devs decided to, rather than begin a new game immediately, to focus on improving their current games. I mean, some devs make a decent game, with tons of potential, and leave it as it is, and release something else. It may or may not be in the dev's best financial interest to continue with a game, that they will only get a set amount or revenue from, but will help you with customers in the long run. I cannot over state this. What do you other devs think? Is it a better idea to leave a game that a customer has paid for, just as it is, with missing features and move on, or to make that game as good as it can be, and continue support for it, first?
I wouldn't really release the game if it was "missing features". If I purposely released it to add those features later, then I'd finish those features. Then the game is complete... time to move onto something else really. Like you say, it's not in our best financial interest to just keep endlessly supporting something when it has no benefit to the developer any more. (aside from good PR - but against 100's of other developers you're only going to be a recognised brand for a small minority)
I know people love updates for stuff they've already paid for. It's like a free expansion pack

When you say "make the game as good as it can be"... who's to say how good the game can be? If it has tons of potential, but the developer hasn't added all those things, then maybe they'll learn for the next game

How long is a piece of string?

Really games ought to be finished when they're put in the store. Updates should be for bug fixes. This is where the huge lack of QA from apple fails the store.


That's all just my opinion though.
01-27-2009, 06:35 PM
#5
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto Canada
Posts: 863
Unless you're doing this as a hobby, most projects will always have a "1.0" list of features and "would-like" lists for future versions. Whether or not the would-likes get implemented is pretty much up to how much revenue comes in from previous releases. This can be unfortunate, but a business can't keep supporting a loser just because it has potential.

For a real world example, I'm still working on the next Pinch 'n Pop update but I've long passed the "probably not worth the effort" point in terms of expected revenue. Although I'm committed to delivering the update I've also had to take on other work to bring in some guaranteed money, so the update is taking longer than I had hoped. At the same time I'm prototyping new ideas because I can't just sit around an hope Pinch 'n Pop suddenly gets popular. I'm sure I'm not the only app store dev in this position.

My advice to app store shoppers is to always buy apps based on their current functionality, and not on promised features. Future updates are vapourware.

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01-27-2009, 06:36 PM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by HouseTreeRobot View Post
Really games ought to be finished when they're put in the store. Updates should be for bug fixes. This is where the huge lack of QA from apple fails the store.


That's all just my opinion though.
I'd disagree with you there, at least in part.

Games should be complete as-is when put in the store, but they don't have to have every feature under the sun in the 1.0 version. It's better that the features they do have are properly working and then if the designer comes up with new features to expand the game or it's obvious from user feedback that a new feature would be a good thing they can be added in later updates.

The App store is nearer to the PC/Mac market in terms of games being able to evolve over time. This is great both for the designer, who can play with the game's design and tune it to the players and for the players who can ask for features and (assuming the designer agrees with them) see them added to the game. The SlotZ 1.1 update for instance has a lot of features added based on feedback from users in these forums, joined with a bunch of stuff we wanted to do but wasn't practical for the 1.0 release.

No matter how much testing you do with professional and amateur testers before submission, you'll never get the amount of testing you get when you let the general public play with your game en-masse. They'll do all sorts of stuff in all sorts of combinations that just wouldn't come up even with the best of testers. You can reduce the amount of issues to a minimum, but in the complex world of a modern computer game you'll never eliminate them completely.
01-27-2009, 06:51 PM
#7
Same, I agree in part, but... (And I'm not criticising your game in any way, just taking this from a developer-to-developer thing)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zwilnik View Post
...joined with a bunch of stuff we wanted to do but wasn't practical for the 1.0 release.
Why wasn't it practical for the first release?
Does that not suggest you released the game before it was finished?

Now that you've had feature suggestions etc from feedback, in your next game are you going to do the same, or are you going to take the suggestions from this game and get them done for the first release? (obviously assuming the suggestions translate)
01-27-2009, 06:56 PM
#8
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Condello View Post
At the same time I'm prototyping new ideas because I can't just sit around an hope Pinch 'n Pop suddenly gets popular. I'm sure I'm not the only app store dev in this position.
I think that's the thing though. Waiting for your app to get popular isn't likely to happen. On the other hand, updates and lite versions may. I was surprised that iShoot made it to the #1 spot 3 months after its initial release. But he addressed some issues in the first versions in subsequent updates.

In the end, I suppose it depends on if you believe your game could never get more popular (bad concept) or needs to be refined.

arn
01-27-2009, 06:59 PM
#9
oh and...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zwilnik View Post
No matter how much testing you do with professional and amateur testers before submission, you'll never get the amount of testing you get when you let the general public play with your game en-masse. They'll do all sorts of stuff in all sorts of combinations that just wouldn't come up even with the best of testers. You can reduce the amount of issues to a minimum, but in the complex world of a modern computer game you'll never eliminate them completely.
Bugs are a whole different topic

We had hundreds of bugs left in our games after 2+ year development and 5 months of testing and bug fixing. Developers have just got to make sure the showstoppers are gone. (Unless you're EA and have huge amounts of QA at your disposal, in which case there's no excuse for small games)
01-27-2009, 07:02 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by HouseTreeRobot View Post
Same, I agree in part, but... (And I'm not criticising your game in any way, just taking this from a developer-to-developer thing)



Why wasn't it practical for the first release?
Does that not suggest you released the game before it was finished?

Now that you've had feature suggestions etc from feedback, in your next game are you going to do the same, or are you going to take the suggestions from this game and get them done for the first release? (obviously assuming the suggestions translate)
Some elements of possible future features weren't practical because we weren't sure if they'd actually be wanted, or even overcomplicate the game for players initially.

Others had to wait simply because they would take too long to develop properly and to make an iPhone game profitable, you have to release it. The more features you put in, the longer it takes to test and tune properly and this becomes exponential rather quickly, so you decide on what the game will be for 1.0 as a complete game and then if it's successful, you consider expansion.

Most of the features we've added for SlotZ could easily have been held off for SlotZ 2 and used to get more money out of players, but we don't roll that way

As far as features requested for this game being automatic in the next game, that's apples vs oranges. Each game design is its own entity and created based on what we think is right for that game at the time. Each game typically targets a different set of players, different skill levels and completely different resource requirements, so it's not a good idea to say "yes, we need to start by including all this stuff" without considering whether it's actually relevant to the game design you're doing.

I'll end with 2 quotes from great artists..

One great artist once said that an artist never finishes a work of art, he just gives up at some point.

Another great artist said "Great artists ship!"