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The Mad, Mad, Mad Vortex of Game Development

Alright, real talk. Today’s post is inspired by a question asked in the forums, paraphrased:

“With early access titles you find a lot of people complaining that features are being added while bugs aren’t being addressed and I’d love to see what Gaslamp Games could say about this.”

This question makes me reflect back on myself 15 years ago, when I was an enthusiastic fan of games eagerly watching their development from the outside, being frustrated by waiting for patches, and, I’ll admit, not being very understanding at all about bugs and venting anger at developers. Now I’m here on the other side and I can see why things happen the way they do, I recall specifically saying, after launching Dungeons of Dredmor, “I understand now why things end up the way they do”.

Vaguely related example: Yesterday I argued myself into conceding that the most important thing I could do was another mockup for the character info UI widget.

Vaguely related example: Yesterday I argued myself into conceding that the most important thing I could do was another mockup for the character info UI widget.

(I was originally going to use the framing conceit of Dominions 4 game mechanics to explain the functioning of a small game studio, but Daniel helped me see that this will not necessarily make the process easier. And that Dominions 4’s game mechanics being comparable in complexity to running a small game studio says more about Dominions 4 than it does explain anything useful to gamers. So let’s not do that. Also rejected the “Eastern Front of World War 2” analogy as potentially a bit grim. Moving right along.)

Game development is a problem of satisfying a bunch of competing interests while trying to align a bunch of contingent sub-projects. Let me dig into an example loosely inspired by reality.

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