Side Projects

January 19, 2011

Archiving this from a discussion on SG.

Sometimes you begin projects in the wrong order. Like, you start working on game A before game B, but — really — you need to finish B before you can finish A, because there are a few problems you need to solve and B is a better place to solve them than A.

A good example is how working on Super Suit is solving many of the problems that I had with both Geiger Counter and An Ill-Fated Descent. But I’m already too invested in Geiger Counter to be willing to be experimental and gut that project entirely before rewriting it, plus the people who already liked Geiger Counter would freak out if I released versions that got substantially worse before they got better. Consequently, I need to work on my problems with Geiger Counter in another game — a game that I have much less history and investment in — and then come back later.

John Harper said that he was feeling similarly about Danger Patrol and — while those are both unfinished games that have seen a lot of play in their alpha and beta drafts — I think that can hold true for other games as well. Forking certain concepts off into a “side game” is not really about managing audience expectations so much as it is clearing away everything else and giving yourself space and permission to really go to work on a design problem, digging into the guts and trying a few new ideas without any expectations.

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