SRG Update #20

SRG splash

This month has been about getting to Done. 

Blocks All the Way Down is Done.

Seeing the true end of a to-do list that has seemed so endless is quite a thing, but so is the way in which new to-dos assert themselves the whole time.

E.g., in spite of there being so much written on it, I still find app store submission extraordinarily baroque. At least, it is from the perspective of the uninitiated. Some requirements are simply tedious, but others are just a tangled mess with no clear answer.

As I’ve worked through it, many parts evaporated into triviality, but others have instead turned into significant research efforts.

That said, everything is winding down at long last. The build is in the store, waiting for 1-2 small changes before I click ‘Submit for Review’.

Coincidentally, I was looking through some of the early journal entries from when I started on this game. In fact, I found the very day I made the core mistake that drove this bus off a cliff.

So I thought I’d share here one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over these years: You should probably be “aggressively un-precious” about your ideas.

The right thing to do on that day would have been to change the core game mechanic and move on with the small scope I wanted then, and ultimately am roughly shipping with now.

As I’ve leaned into my various “game design process” tools, I’ve come to really understand just how fungible game ideas are. It could be argued that maybe I just haven’t found a truly amazing idea, but I’d counter with this: I’ve never even seen a truly amazing game idea, in my own head or in the wild. In the entire history of the industry, I think every game has been marred by the same chaos that, even today, every game idea will be marred by.

That is: a human mind produced it, and human players must play it. It must run on computers, it must be economically feasible to some extent, it must be interfaced with via a handful of very simple HCIs we’ve settled on.

Whatever it is, it’s not worth the delay.

This year could mark the 10th or 20th game I’ve shipped, not the first. Even though I planned when I started on BAWD to keep development time under 100 hours (yes, really), even though I was aware of all the risks that threaten such plans and tried to head them off… It still caught me.

This idea isn’t new, and I had certainly read it myself before making that mistake. As with so many life lessons, it’s hard to internalize someone else’s idea. “My situation is different!” we say without anything truly grounding that claim. So if you’re in a similar situation, I hope you’ll try to ask yourself a little more intently. It could save you multiple years.

Ah well, much has been learned along the way. I just wish I’d learned more of it on code that I ultimately shipped.

The parts of BAWD I cut out to make this release, I may bring back in, gradually. Some of them are fine ideas, and I think add to the fun. I’m already planning on a few content patches over the course of 2020, so maybe some of that code will yet see the light of day.

Realistically? It’s for a different game than what BAWD is now. In the process of violently culling scope, I redefined the game in my head. It already feels a little bit bloated, somehow.

In any case, see you next time for the first proper 25h/”conveyor” installment!