Im a gamer at heart, I have been playing online games since back in the day when MuD's were the best you could get. I took the time designed my own and wow its still up and running with a 20-30 person pbase. Since that time and the introduction of beautiful graphics I have wanted to work on my own games, that could truly look and feel how I wanted them. So I shall soon begin working on my first project in full 3d. I realize its ambitious on my part to want this but so was over 60,000 lines of code for a text based game, the truth is, it was the most rewarding experience of my life to see other play something I had worked so hard on creating and enjoy it. So here it goes again, this time i dont think im gonna be doing the coding as i really dont have much experience in the object oriented versions of C.
From my experience as time dwindles away down that ever empty drain of life, the waters slowly get faster and faster, basically as time progresses in this community it seems like people are progressing faster and faster toward and end. Just what end that may be I am not sure, games and mods are now released in weeks or months rather than years. An excellent case and point would be recent posts made on these forums, It seems that people spend less time thinking of the problem and immediately try to jump to a solution. While as a gamer this instinct and intuitiveness will make you one of the best as a developer it could get you into some hot water.
Lets look at Insurgency (a modification for Half-life 2). I followed this mod for about a year, possibly even longer before a release date was ever mentioned, yes I got excited and wanted to play so bad my palms itched and my brain almost exploded, and like the rest of the community we got what we wanted, or so we thought. It looks great, it sounds better than just about any first person shooter I have ever played but it seems to lack something. In the final stages of mod development teams tend to begin to rush things, as they get closer to an imaginary date they feel as if they need to reach the end ever more quickly and stop looking at problems they may have and start looking for solutions to problems that have yet to appear. This kind of retroactive solution tends to lead to more problems. When things become rushed teams tend to forget exactly what end it is they wish to achieve, that end will differ on who you ask, but for most Teams it will fall into two categories the first of which is more for the professional developers and that is to make a title that will sell copies and generate revenue. The second is for those indie teams who are creating a mod for the sake of creating something that is not only more fun than the original but will look better and play better.
For the first type, they rush things a lot more often, and have the ability to update a lot more often. As a game that is going to be published by a large company its not the end of the world if it isn't perfect on release, people will more than likely still buy the title as they can expect that updates will be made and the game will be better sooner or later. There are a few notable exceptions to this but in general a large studio will receive a lot more leeway from the general public for releasing not quite perfect material.
As for the others of us, the guys who like doing it because they feel they can bring something positive to the community it is a lot harder. The public demands more perfection from you than they would a major game developer. Why is that? you may ask, and the answer is surprisingly simple. As an untested entity the public trusts us much less than they would someone like EA or Ubisoft. Again i go to insurgency, this game went from one of the largest followings to almost dead over night after release, and this most likely had to do with the release itself. We the community were told countless times that the game will be released when it was ready, we were told so often and so much that we believed the developers and began to trust them. Obviously with the kind of conviction they were showing with said answer they were gonna stick to their guns and it was gonna be awesome. But out of nowhere they announce a release day. "YIPEE" comes the chorus from the community. The release date rolls around and no release.... The community was appalled the forums ran rampant with where do i get it posts only to be answered with "the release has been postponed". The second release date rolls around and a "YIPEE" sounds again from the community of onlookers, the only problem is that working so hard toward this date they arbitrarily chose for themselves they forgot to procure multiple servers for download. Luckily a good man from darkstar I believe it was stepped in and saved the day. The only problem was that the community had already lost faith. The few who had downloaded and played it gave mixed reviews which allowed the community as a large who were still downloading the game to muse over all of that negative.
Now this to some of you may seem like a lot of incessant rambling so ill sum it up down here. A release date is an arbitrary date chosen by developers for the project they are working on. The release date for big producers is a lot less of a strain as they are given more leeway by the public on the completeness of the title in question than small or indie studios. This being the case in my humble opinion it might be considered wise at the end of your production period to set a release date after you feel your game is worthy of the public, and then check it again, slow things down, get everyone who needs to be there together and discuss every problem that anyone may have, then start looking for solutions. Also don't rush to get the community behind your project, as your community grows so will the pressure for more information, and a release date.
Many people feel that by not divulging any of the information they would like to know about the project I am working on, I may somehow be hurting myself but really in this day and age its all about getting information without having to give any information until you feel ready to do so. So I will assure you that when i feel the need to tap this communities resources for help you will be the first to know as little as I would like to tell. Happy modding to all of you, and remember the closer it is the slower and more meticulous you need to be.
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