Game Production Lesson From Wayne Gretzky

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
– Wayne Gretzky, legendary ice hockey player

It’s obvious that in ice hockey you cannot score a goal unless you take a shot (if you don’t count those rare lucky breaks when the team scores by some incident, like other team traveling the puck accidentally in their own goal). Similarly there comes times in game production when you need to take action and stop planning too much. Don’t get me wrong, planning is needed. I’m simply saying that at some point you have to take action – and stop polishing your idea for now.

I’ve heard stories from many talented people telling me how they have great game ideas. They just need someone to actually do the game, and they are willing to give 50% of the profits to the other. They might spend years telling how they certainly would know how to create better games than big companies. If only they had the team (or resources or time or whatever), they would do it. Now they just have the big idea that’s waiting for execution. And that’s only thing what they end up having – an idea.

Unfortunately they aren’t following Gretzky’s piece of advice, they are failing to take action.

There comes the time when you need to take a shot, or you’ll end up missing the goal.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Juuso, sorry mate. I re-read that post and it seemed more harsh than desired. I’m going to blame it on being a disgruntled Dallas Stars fan(they were losing their playoff series 3-1 at the time…). Trust I meant no ill of it, and thanks again for proving you take your reader’s comments to heart.

  2. Juuso: no worries, just wasn’t sure if you misread it as Read Aim Fire, which *does* apply when teaching your son how to wee in the toilet.

  3. @Dragkon: Well, we might also remember that some guys have took the puck in their own goal without taking shots – so I technically you can goal without taking a shot. But, let’s not get into semantics shall we. :)

  4. “It’s obvious that in ice hockey you cannot score a goal unless you take a shot.” So, very…untrue. Do a search on the Dallas and Vancouver series…game 5. Thought the goal was missed, it was not by a lot. Perhaps it would be more accurate to stick to quoting Gretzky.

    Anyway, as far as the advice, it is very accurate inded. Every goal has to be given an honest shot in order to be a score.

  5. @Jake: Well, I cannot remember where I first heard about Ready/Fire/Aim but I do agree that it makes sense – just tried to be funny. (Failed miserable :)

  6. The ready bit means get a summary idea of what you want to do, fire means start it, aim means refine as you go along. It’s a well known technique that entrepreneurs use to make money fast whilst other people are still planning every last detail.

  7. @Jay: What’s wrong with ideas that you get in the shower? Beats shower singing 6-0 ;)

    @Tuna: Yes, I would completely agree that research and planning are needed, otherwise it might end up being in the situation where you are taking as many shots as possible… just to realize that it’s your own goal…

  8. Great post, but on the other side of the fence projects often fail without proper planning. As a side note people often do lots of planning for their projects put don’t plan the project itself. Example – they may plan out their engine, the design, etc, but fail to make a plan for development so that the project can succeed.

  9. hey just need someone to actually do the game, and they are willing to give 50% of the profits to the other.

    Oh, yeah, please! Let me put ALL of my game ideas on the shelf and work my butt off for 2 years and spend tons of money doing it just so I can give THAT GUY half the money for the privilege of using his crappy idea he had in the shower one morning. Yeah. Where do I get in line?

  10. Yeah and don’t forget to “Ready Fire Aim” as well.

    Also this: What % of people reach black belt? Well the % is irrelevent to you because if you want to reach black belt and you go for it, you’ll reach it, so it’s 100% for you, but if you lack motivation it’s 0% for you. I’m a 100% kinda guy ;-)

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