Setting a Deadline Is Good (If You Ever Wanna Finish Your Game)

I’ve set myself a deadline to publish Dead Wake in approximately two weeks, and this morning I was pondering how good it is to have a set deadline. I’ve touched this subject earlier (check out for example these articles: establishing a deadline is pretty easy, deadlines are not evil and 21 things that will help you finish your game), and I think that deadlines can be a good, positive force that will help you accomplish more.

There’s couple of things where I perhaps wouldn’t use deadlines, or at least feel they aren’t so effective:

  • When setting some highly unsure point at very far from the future (“our game is completed in year 2015” – who cares? Instead one could try break this deadline into series of deadlines)
  • When setting an impossible deadline, it serves no point (“our game will be published in 3 month with all these features – and much more than guys can handle – and we have these resources and won’t get any more help and we’ve already promised this to the press, so start working!”)

I seriously think that one of the practices that has helped me with the Dead Wake project has been establishing small approximately bi-monthly deadlines. Sometime I’ve missed the deadline, and sometimes there wasn’t everything I wanted – but it has still been a good motivator to have deadlines.

I know we all hated deadlines when in school we were forced to deliver essays at a set date… and I know it might seem that it would feel so good to go without a deadline, but I really think we gotta consider using deadlines. If somebody isn’t setting us deadlines, we should take action and set a deadline for ourselves.

Everybody knows we are lazy bastards, so it’s better to set us a deadline and start whipping ourselves a bit.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. One day soon I will have time to be able to work on my game. Then I will definitely set some deadlines!

    In particular, once I’m able to work on it a bit more, I really need to set a deadline for a Mayhem Intergalactic feature freeze. Stop working on it and move on, you silly bugger!

  2. Imho it’s best to have a regular deadline. “Deliver working iteration of game every two weeks”. I did this for T.W.T.P.B. and it worked like a charm, was really sweet to get into the habit of releasing instead of doing it as a “big thing”.

    Setting big deadlines far away in the future serves no purpose.

    This procedure is called time boxing in the Unified Process… I guess more game devs should look into general software development methods and practices, it’s all there…

    It’s not rocket science to make games you know, just follow the principles of general software development and you’ll be just fine…

  3. Yeah, I’ve started tiny game half year ago and it’s still unfinished – because of no deadlines. Even one tiny milestone… I think it’s time to set some deadlines now;)

  4. It’s not a problem. Now it has become a challenge :)

    You don’t wanna look like a damn fool, right? So no more running away! Finish the game ;)

  5. I did set my own internal deadline for the year 2009 last year and still it looks like I don’t make it. I still have lot of doing and time is running fast. My problem is that I’ve been telling all this time it’s going to be in ’09 and if it’s not released then, I just look like a damn fool :)

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