Yesterday, my good friends up at United Front Games had their game True Crime cancelled by Activision. My team worked closely with United Front on ModNation Racers, so I know firsthand that UFG is a standup studio of hardworking guys and gals. There’s much that this caused me to reflect on, especially in regards to the gaming industry as a whole. With the prevalence of $0.99 iPhone games and free Facebook games, is the market going to continue to be there for $60 premium experiences? Will gaming go the way of movies, where there are low-budget indie films, nothing in the middle, and then multi-multi-million Transformers/Inception spectacles? Or will we end up like the music business, where everyone is just fine with poor-quality MP3’s since the price is right?
Who knows - my crystal ball is in the shop. Which brings me to the title of this post. You can only do the best you can, with the time you have, roll the bones, and hope for the best.
All of us tend to worry about things that are out of our control. We worry about plane crashes, floods, economic collapse - the list goes on. In fact, things outside of our control often cause the most stress, as they can make us feel powerless.
But when it comes to shipping a product (and retaining your sanity), all you can do is focus as much time and energy as possible on your areas of responsibility, and make sure that your deliverables are as awesome as possible. If you’re an online programmer, worrying about the character animation being good enough is just going to stress you out, and take valuable time away from all the online programmery things you need to do.
This doesn’t mean you should put blinders on and get tunnel vision. But there are times for offering your peers feedback on a product as a whole, and times for putting your head down and knocking out features. To me, this dovetails with the classic “glass house” proverb. Once your features are all nice and shiny, then by all means offer feedback to others. But if you still have work to do, you need to knock that out first. (Hint: Your team members feel the same way. Nobody likes criticism from somebody who can’t get his own act together.)
So bringing it back around:
- Worry about your personal deliverables first
- Then worry about your team’s deliverables
- Then worry about the product as a whole
- Then worry about whether it will sell in Southeast Asia
- Then worry about global warming
Your sanity (and your product) will thank you.
And again, good vibes up to my friends at UFG. I know you put your heart and soul into “True Crime: Hong Kong”, and that’s the best you can do.