Message to devs: Please read

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by brewstermax, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. brewstermax

    brewstermax Well-Known Member

    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?
     
  2. spacecowgoesmoo

    spacecowgoesmoo Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2008
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    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.
     
  3. Midnight Status

    Midnight Status Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    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.
     
  4. HouseTreeRobot

    HouseTreeRobot Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2008
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    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.
     
  5. ChaoticBox

    ChaoticBox Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2008
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    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.
     
  6. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    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.
     
  7. HouseTreeRobot

    HouseTreeRobot Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2008
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    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)
     
  8. arn

    arn Administrator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 2008
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    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
     
  9. HouseTreeRobot

    HouseTreeRobot Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2008
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    oh and...

    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)
     
  10. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    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!" ;)
     
  11. Diablohead

    Diablohead Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2009
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    Freelancer, PC game developer
    One thing I plan to do is support my games for quite a while, but not in a way of selling minimal effort and just adding the rest down the road. I would fix problems that appear asap and maybe work on a new mode or extra areas so the game is much more then a make and throw out app.
     
  12. Schenk Studios

    Schenk Studios Well-Known Member

    Updates

    We've supported Siege for about 2 months with minor and major updates. We'll be the first to admit that it was shipped prematurely however there comes a time when updates become financial dead-ends and then it's time to move on.
     
  13. brewstermax

    brewstermax Well-Known Member

    I can agree that the App Store in its current state gives devs few incentives to continue to better their games, with no additional money coming in, among other things. But until every customer is completely happy, development is never over.
     
  14. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    The incentive to keep improving current apps with the current App Store is what you said in that last line, a happy customer is a customer that's more likely to be interested in your next game. You'll never please everyone all the time as some people will simply not like the genre of the game and some people just get ideas of what they want the game to be that it really isn't (everybody is a designer ;) ).
     
  15. brewstermax

    brewstermax Well-Known Member

    I hate people who don't like Tangrams, yet critisize Tanzen. Which is why when I review apps, I look at if it does what it is meant to do, and how effectively it completes that. Even if I hated Tangrams, I would still rate Tanzen highly, as it does what it is supposed to. It is a game of Tangrams, and is really great at what it does, but I'm sure that the dev gets emails daily about wanting something else. That isn't the purpose of the app.
     
  16. ipressbuttons

    ipressbuttons Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2008
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    He isnt talking about you :D Trace is perfect!
     
  17. MetaNick

    MetaNick Well-Known Member

    I'm definitely on the side of letting the games go.

    I'll admit I just updated Juggler with a fairly small update. I fixed some sprites and made it compatible with iPhone OS 2.0 (instead of requiring 2.2 which was a dumb move on my part). I'm also waiting for Juggler Free to be approved which is Juggler 1.1, but completely free and ad-supported. And beyond that I've also submitted a big update to Flip 3 which adds iPhone OS 2.0 support as well as a big list of requested features.

    But after that, I'm done. I'm not going to update these games until the cows come home. What I am going to do, however, is take everything I've learned from making these two (and the feedback from them) and make my next game even better. Now part of that is my belief that these aren't ever going to be hit games (though I hope they can be decent in generating my company some revenue and attention), but part of it is that I want to move on creatively.

    Flip 3 and Juggler are fun little games, but I have more ideas I want to work on that I think people will enjoy. Being the small team Metacreature is (currently me writing code and one guy making art), I just don't have time to constantly update the current games if I have any intention of finishing the next one in a reasonable amount of time.
     

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