I just realized this morning that one of my favorite things is – the last couple of weeks tweaking and tuning my games before they ship. And it’s not really “polishing” like most people do right before shipping, because I try to “polish” as I go. It’s actually two different things:
- It’s adding little things, here and there, usually in the story part, or the help pop-ups and/or picking and choosing where all the final puzzles fit in the game in relation to everything else. It adds a coherency that makes the game more than “just a collection of puzzles” and it’s always a little different than what my original plan for the game happened to be.
- And while doing #1, I will occasionally, think of some variation or tweak that requires a small bit of coding to pull off that will either be used in the game or help me test more efficiently. These pieces of code would be frowned upon in the “real world”, especially while trying to create a GMC (Gold Master Candidate).
And it’s this 2nd thing, which I think of as “Slapping Things In” that I enjoy so much.
Because I am now my only boss, there is no one to ask if it’s ok. No one I have to justify it to, other than myself. All that matters is – “Will it improve the final product?” and “How risky is it to implement?”
Now if it occurs to me while testing it’s almost certainly something that will “improve the final product”. As to “How risky is it?” – that doesn’t really matter because if it doesn’t work or breaks something, I’ll just remove it again.
So, I think of something; I slap it in; I see if it works and then I move on in my testing.
It’s an awesome feeling. The time between the idea and the implementation is incredibly streamlined because I have no one to answer to. And in the last couple of weeks before I ship, I have more and more moments like this. It’s why I fell in love with programming to begin with.
Think it, code it, see if it works.
Back when I first learned to program, it was the joy of learning something new in that moment that was so much fun. It was the “Aha – that’s how it works”. But now, for many, many things there is no “Aha – that’s how it works”; that’s replaced with – “Let’s slap that in and see it in the game (making the game just slightly better in the process)”. It’s not polishing, it’s creation on a different level. It’s adding the final brushstrokes just where the painting cries-out and tells you where they need to go.
Lastly, I kiddingly tell people that if I were a superhero, my superpower would be “finishing stuff” or “shipping stuff” and that’s true…and for other people with that power, their kryptonite would be “polishing” or “slapping things in” as they get lost in that. For me though, it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel but the tunnel is more like a cone, getting smaller and smaller towards the tip (where the light is). I see the light, and I move towards it, but I also look around at the sides of the tunnel (one last look, at each step…tweaking, improving, slapping things in as needed) before moving closer to that light (shipping the game).
And even then, with digital…I won’t know until 10,000 people download it whether or not I caught every bug and whether they’ll find something I should have fixed.
But hey, it’s digital. If they find something that needs fixing…I’m sure I’ll just “slap that fix right in” – and you know what….I’ll be happy doing that too.