Walk Your Talk

You all know the story about a boy who cried wolf. It ends in these words:

We’ll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the youth, “Nobody believes a liar…even when he is telling the truth!”

The best way to predict someone’s future behavior is to look at their past behavior
If you have a habit of promising something, and then forgetting people. That’s what people will think about you. If you cried ‘wolf’ too many times, you can rest assured nobody will believe you when you really mean something. Nobody believes a liar, even when he is telling the truth.

Don’t promise what you cannot keep. If you cannot meet your commitment, deal with the consequences.
I got a message from one disappointed customer who said I hadn’t meet my commitment. I promised to personally email this person when new updates would be available for Hightailed game, but failed to do so.

I could have mentioned that I was very busy setting up my company, building gameproducer.net, chasing some other rabbit or telling some other task I had to take care… and all these would have been excuses.

I made a promise, I should have kept it.

If I knew that I couldn’t promise something, then I shouldn’t have promised anything in the first place. I apologized for the harm I had caused, and offered that the player could test our developer version of Hightailed (something that’s not available to public). I’m not sure if that was enough, but it was the best thing I could think of at the moment. I tried to deal with the consequences, but I assure you – it’s much better to deal with the promise than trying to fix something afterwards.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. This quote from Hellboy (the movie) sums it up:

    “What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. It’s the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he finishes them. ”

    I know a guy who said he’d help out with my Aikido club, said he do all these things. Great. But he never did because he is too busy with other stuff. Everything he says is just an excuse to my ears. He should never have promised in the first place if he couldn’t do it, and I’ve told him this. Plenty of people tell me what they are going to do all the time, I just listen and nod and think “OK, but’s let’s see what *actually* happens”. Of course if someone has proven time after time they do deliver then I’ll trust them, if they are a new person I’ll give them a chance to prove themselves, but other people continually fail to do what they say. They lose my respect because it’s one of the most basic things in life, make someone a promise, then DO IT.

  2. The saying ‘under promise, over deliver’ still stands indeed. Definitely something I need to be much more carefull in… :|

  3. Not only that, but always saying maybe may make you look undecicive, and it looks like you don’t have a plan for the game. It’s a mixed thing, on the other hand we want to hear ideas and comments from players, and want to encourage them to do it. On the other hand we don’t want to promise them that their ideas will get in.

    To that end I’ve been considering making some sort of an official “things that may get added” list, with names of the people who suggested them.

  4. This definitely goes for release dates as well.

    And… be sparing with “maybe”. This will soon transform people saying “they might implement the feature”, “they are considering it”, “it’ll propably be there”, “new feature will be there”… and the rumour has transformed into a promise you need to keep ;)

  5. This partially goes for release dates as well. If you give a release date on a product and cannot keep it, it’s a kind of a broken promise. Unfortunately it’s an all too often broken one these days.

    I’m usually very careful of what I promise the players when a game is in development. People are constantly bringing about new ideas and asking whether they might be implemented. You even end up saying “maybe” for the good ones, because you cannot really promise it will be done.

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