A Break From the Norm...
(or, admitting how the "right way" was wrong)
The title of this blog post, A Break From the Norm works for multiple reasons. First, because this is a 1-post side-track from the Game Studio related posts I've been doing, and secondly, because I feel compelled to write about just that - taking a break from the norm, stepping outside your preconceived notions of the right and wrong ways to do things, and being willing to admit that maybe, JUST MAYBE, you DON'T know what you're talking about.I promise, next post will continue the Game Studio posts (including a nice, easy-to-follow sample of setting up AI behaviors using nothing but flow charts, look ma no code!), but be it my research over the past couple of weeks, or the delirium caused by lack of sleep, I just need to dump these thoughts out there...
The "Right" Way
Muteki Corporation is 5 years old (almost 5 1/2...my how the time flies). Prior to the founding of Muteki Corporation, I (and others here) worked in various mobile companies. And prior to that we all worked in "real" video games. By real I mean consoles and handhelds (PSP, Nintendo handhelds, etc). I don't mean it to be demeaning...anymore. You see the problem I (and I'm assuming many people who've decided to strike it out on their own) face at times is these notions of the "right way" to do things. For Muteki Corporation, the plan was start up, get work as needed to pay the bills (mostly mobile because it was the easiest work to get), while we work on "real" games for "real" systems (again meaning, at the time in my mind, consoles). It was so ingrained in my thoughts that that was the only real way to go, to the point of detriment.
Months of development time and thousands of dollars in development kits for various consoles and handhelds were wasted on projects that could never be finished due to the reality of our situation here - we're a small shop that can't do both a BIG console game, and the contract work necessary to survive. Furthermore, with internal projects constantly being the first thing pushed off when an overflow of work comes in, it's impossible to keep a project like that moving forward without the people involved either losing interest or just becoming plain demotivated. And of course you can't turn down work, that's just throwing away money! Or is it...another notion to kill off in the future...
It's sad because as there opened up to developers more and more possibilities to release games, be it on the web, on Facebook, or on iOS/Android, I shunned the options as they were all, in my very mis-conceiving mind, wrong. I can think of more than one occasion where decisions were made around these ideas of what the right or wrong way to do things were, that probably hurt us in the end.
The Real Right Way
So this is where I vowed just recently to kill off these faulty ideas and be more open. Consoles are a great way to play games, and great to develop on sure, but if it's not what's ever worked for us, maybe I should use that to push us in a better direction, right? So for our next set of projects...consoles aren't even a thought. I'm going to embrace the options we have readily available, and decide to push back those options that, while very viable in the industry, just aren't viable for us right now.
As a start, I've been looking into Facebook games a lot recently. Now anyone who knows me knows that I don't really use Facebook. It's not a strong hatred I have or anything - I'm just not a person who shares much about my personal life (and yet here I can't shut up...fancy that). But I've been forcing myself to look into the options for making Facebook games, because it's so far in the opposite spectrum of what I've been focused on for so long that it forces me to rethink how I'm looking at things. This isn't a pledge that we're going to make a game on Facebook anytime soon, but at least it's no longer walled off in my mind as "oh we will NEVER do that" like it once was.
Dragon Fantasy is another good example. The original plan was great let's make the iOS version and then hold off while we look for a publisher for the "real" (read: console, read: not actually happening right now, read: not real at all?) version. Forget that - we didn't start making our own games just to have to work around what other people want or think, did we? No! So the iOS version is almost ready to ship, and once it is? We ship it. And then we look at Mac and PC versions (other "taboo" markets compared to consoles in the past...). And we enjoy the process of making a game instead of being stuck in the mindset of what we're supposed to make and how.
And after Dragon Fantasy? Who knows...maybe more iOS games...maybe a PC/Mac game...maybe a web game...or maybe a console game IS next. But what matters is that by deciding to break from these ideas I once had about the "right" way to do things...our options doubled.
So this is the new REAL "right way" - being open to the things I once thought were never options. The more we limit our options the more we limit our potential. Being independent developers we have so many limits we have to deal with...so why do we feel the need to add more of our own?
And I leave you with a shameless plug... Dragon Fantasy Beta announcement coming soon!