Thursday, March 6, 2014

Don't think - publish!

"No matter what you publish, as long as you publish something". I have tried this strategy for a while when learning game development and released several flash games (or equivalent) without much self-criticism. 

There are many hobby game developers who start a project, work passionately on it for some time, and finally dump it to the trashcan or leave to the drawer to wait for better times. And this is repeated over and over again, for every game project. Basically, there is nothing wrong with this approach: sometimes project has to be terminated for some reason. And there is always something to learn from each project, even if it was left unfinished and never shown to anyone else. 

For most game developers the funniest and most interesting parts are concept creation and actual development of the game. Who would not like creating game assets and mechanics, or sketching characters and new worlds? Bug-hunting, game polishing and balancing are also tolerable tasks for most hobby developers. But finishing a game to release condition seems to be a phase, in which the motivation most likely runs out. I have experienced this in some of my little flash projects: game development itself is fun and interesting (I even like bug-hunting). But when it comes time to prepare game for releasing, I start looking it more critically and some kind of a self-censorship moves in. 

However, finishing (and publishing) a game provides valuable experience for the developer. You have to undergo certain steps to finalize your game to release condition: it may include final balancing of game mechanics, polishing the intro/menu/end screens, adding menu buttons, and adding appropriate links. Also integrating high-score mechanisms and/or some advertisement stuff from distribution network provider can be done here, if not taken into account earlier. In any case you have to test that everything still works before uploading your game somewhere. And if release is done "professional" way, you should not forget the marketing package: few screenshots, nice thumbnails, proper description and instructions how to play game, and maybe some attracting gameplay video also. Creating all this "extra" stuff requires surprising amount of time and effort, but in the end it will help you to get your game published. 

It is entirely up to you how polished and perfect you want to make your game. But do not make this too difficult, especially if you are fledgling game developer like me. There is life after unsuccessful release too! Also, it should not be forgotten that in best case you will get some feedback after releasing your game to public. This information may provide new perspectives and new ideas for future projects. If you don't want to release your game using any 3rd party network, why not just to put your game available to your own web site or equivalent and ask bunch of your friends to test it? 

Someone has said that the only difference between a beginner and a professional is that the professional has done more mistakes. From my point of view this is very well said: Game development can only be learned by doing the games, and if you make games you will surely make mistakes (even publish a complete failure).

So far I have published games just for flash, using Mochimedia distribution network. So I don't have any idea how to publish a game e.g. for Android or any other mobile platform. Let's see if my next project is the first one I release for mobile devices...I hardly can wait. :) 

-Jussi

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