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Game development and startups

wisdom about how different are indie game developing and common startups as a mindset

2013-04-08, 06:30:28-2013-05-09, 09:35:58

Game startups #

in the form of indie games

I've been involved in a couple of game projects both indie or part of some big corporate strategy. Every time applying startup methodologies (agile/lean/scrum/kanban etc.) was a success but it was a lot different as experience.

Feelings over business value

In the games I was involved I wanted to express a feeling or create something that I wanted to play. For contrast in business startups I want to make something that will have value.

Fun over pain

Everytime I think about the game I think about making it fun and engaging rather than solving some pain. It is a popular believe that if your startup relieves some pain it will be successful, while a game to be successful you just need to make it fun :)

Lore over branding

In games I like to create and expand the lore. It is much more meaningful for your game to have an immersive universe (also called lore) and most of the time branding will not do the trick. The game can be with an awful logo, website, branding yet it can still sell well if it has a good lore and gameplay

Players over users

A simple mindset switch can lead to a lot different customer service. Both our players and users are customers but if I threat them differently (players as users and the reverse) I lose a lot of agility about how to deal with them. I think it is a lot different to gather information about a player then about users. For players you need their demographic data and some kind of their playing personality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test) while for users you need to create an Empathy map.

Common startups #

in the form of webapps

Marketing over publishing

In order to get the word out for our startup we've done a lot of zero marketing. While for games I think that you need one good publisher and everything is good to go. You can of course do it on your own via twitter, facebook and spamming a lot of game forums.

Business model canvas over ... something

Yeah for startups we have business model canvas while for games we have ... nothing? There're some tools for game making and designing but most of them are not so valuable as the canvas. I've bought Book of lenses and ended up using them occasionally. So when it comes to molding your game you have nothing as a backbone except tons of games out there (it is just that game designing is too young as a field).

"Lean" over "fit" 

Everybody is over-reacting about their product beign lean like some 190cm, 30kg super model but nobody understands that the product needs to be actually fit. I'm happy that the game industry acknowledges this statement because every game out there is "fit". So my advice is that if you switch from startups to game development stop with this lean nonsense. The lean methodology is great for business startups (we're constantly trying it) but it can be the downfall of a great game.

UX over gameplay

The last different thing in my mindset when dealing with startups and games is that in the first I'm always exploring and focusing on the user experience. This sometimes can be misleading because I'm trying to enhance how the user interacts with the application rather then what's he getting from it (which in game terms is called gameplay). UX have little to no use in games bacause when a player is in flow he may not even see the UI/HUD. I think gameplay is the translation of how a user is interacting with the system into his playing. Which is one step deeper than UX because gameplay is involving a lot of feedback loops.

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