During the AMA a few weeks ago, someone asked what the hardest thing about making Banished was. I thought about all the programming, art, and design issues I faced with the game, and taken by themselves, they may have been time consuming, but none of them really seemed hard. So what is it?
The design of Banished was very dynamic. Once some of the core mechanics were in place, I simply added things that I thought would be interesting or add depth to the game – and this type of game lends itself well to a lot of additions like this – I could work on it endlessly adding layers upon layers of features and complexity.
Once I did decide to stop adding new buildings and features to the game, I knew I was working toward getting the game ready for release, but the time to complete the game has seemed overly long.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while – The game has looked complete, and played well for a long time – since October, but there have been many final remaining details to deal with. Even though I’ve been continuously working on the game, my own perception of the game – and I assume the outward view of the game being done – looks like this:
Development started slow, went really quickly for a while, and then leveled off as all the main features were added. You don’t see major visual or game play changes as the work continues, but there’s still the same amount of work being done each day.
This can be a frustrating thing to look at. The has game looked complete, but it isn’t. The game play is in place, and all the artwork done, but there have been a lot of final details to actually bring the game to completion. There’s testing, dealing with feedback from testers, tweaking, balancing, fixing bugs, creating installers, tutorials, instructions, preparing to sell the game, and a bunch of other mundane tasks.
This is different from my perception of making games for consoles on a large team. When I was a graphics and tools programmer, often I’d be working on the next project before the previous one was even complete.
And before I worked in the games industry, I’d often take any personal game projects to the point where I learned something new about programming, math, or algorithms, then lose interest and move onto a project with something new that I was curious about.
Next game I should have a better idea of the time and tasks that go into finishing a game. I suppose I’ve been making games long enough now that I finally had to finish a game to learn something new! 🙂
Oh, and Happy New Year!