Archive for July, 2012

15Jul

Ok, so it has been a while since I’ve posted. It has been a busy last couple of years! I’ve been working at NetApp but just gave notice to start working somewhere new. I had a few abandoned side projects and I am now embarking on a brand new one. I’ve learned a ton. Mostly, I’ve learned what might make a project successful and what makes it fall apart. Today I am going to talk about a little game project we are putting on hold.

There was a project a few of my friends were working on where we decided merge music and gaming together. We had this epic plotline, with awesome episodic content in mind, and various other great concepts. We even had a working prototype of the game engine with some programmer art and some actual artist content. We had plenty of concepts, but when it came time to tying things together and defining deadlines everything would fall apart. We ended up in endless development time for various animations. Promises of “it will take 4 hours” turned magically into 4 months later. When it came down to it was too hard for a half committed team to execute, and definitely too hard for some of the team’s first game.

I stepped back. I know we had a talented team, but I really wanted to make a big impact at a smaller scope so I went back to the drawing board. We needed to get our little team to start thinking smaller/simpler so I threw out the idea of putting our current project off in favor of something more easy to execute. I proposed a standard shoot’em with a few twists.

The other thing I realized is that our team was missing a dedicated game designer. Someone who would really drive the game mechanics and be a champion for awesome level/game design. I reached out to one of my old friends from the Game Development Club at SJSU. He grilled me initially (mostly about how I didn’t think the iPhone was all that special when it came out to which he scoffed), but I think he liked the new premise for the game. I proposed a simple shoot’em up targeted at the OUYA with timed music elements for combos and such. The convo took a life of its own. We both proposed extremely stupid things and expanded on them to make them great. We thought making this a purely cooperative type game. We instantly considered latency issues and how that might impact the gameplay mechanics. We decided to go back and do some research and mock some things up. I immediately opt’d to get an early developer OUYA, which should be coming in by the end of the year some time and in the meantime start developing a simple engine to get us started!

Starting over is somewhat disheartening, but I think it can be refreshing and freeing as well. I am not considering anything a failure. They were all good ideas and could all potentially become something with the right direction. They all taught me a little something though and aided in focusing and explicitly defining my intentions. There is a concept in software development called “coding by coincidence”, it occurs when you achieve your desired outcome but aren’t quite sure why it occurred. I now think that this rule could by altered for the business world as well. You should always be deliberate when designing a product. Magical spurts of popularity do occur, but you should know exactly why and how they occurred. It is possible to “get” lucky, but I believe intent will deliver more guaranteed results.

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