How to make releasing a game really difficult

5ish years ago I was doing my Dead Wake project, and one of the most important aspect of development was incremental releases. Every 1-2 months, I put out a new release. This was a really big deal to get things tested. I even had this counter on the website that said like “27 days, 11 hours, 9 minutes till the next release”.

That was cool way to do it.

I took a different approach on my card game, which I started in 2010. It’s been now over 2 years since development started. While I’ve done some iterative development (there’s been several internal Big Releases), I notice that while actual public release approach, it becomes harder.

Is it good enough? Will it be well balanced? How will the traitor mechanism really work when there’s different groups playing? I’ve been able to solo test each version pretty well, I’m quite certain the solo version works. The traitor mechanism has had issues, and it’s been improved ever since. I do realize I need to put together this last version, and get the traitor aspect tested once more. There’s been some changes in the last couple of months, which affect this.

Another aspect has been my kids. I’ve purposefully given more attention to my kids, and I’ve took less night shifts to work on my game – thus extending the development time. And of course there has been actually waiting periods while I’ve waited ships and planes to bring me the physical version with the new art.


The point is: there’s been gaps in development. This has meant that occasionally I’ve lost momentum, needed to regain it, go on with nice pace, then stop again. And, I’ve done only internal Big Revisions, not public one. Or even beta ones, as my main testing group is me, and secondary testing group is our board game group. Keep in mind we are talking about a physical card game, not a video game.

So, two big lessons:

  • Iterative releases: set up deadlines, and stick to them. I remember that it was always cool the get a release out, even if it didn’t have all the hoped features. If you release something only every 2 years, that makes it harder to release.
  • Keep going: momentum is important. If there’s weeks of gap in the development, restarting is always hard.

And a bonus tip: physical card game development isn’t as simple as it might sound. There’s tons of reasons why people are doing iPad card games nowadays. That’s a bloody fine idea.

I haven’t ruled out the idea of iPad version of my card game, but as my dream has been to create a physical card game that I can play & enjoy with my buddies. There’s some aspects in multiplaying with buddies that computers simply cannot offer.

I’m very close to a release now. I have all the pieces here. I need to do the final run. Get it tested and I’m good to go. But for the next projects… I doubt it’s going to be a physical one.

Juuso Hietalahti

One Comment

  1. Been there, did that, done that, didn’t like the t-shirt.

    Though I develop computer games (and do web design, but that’s just for a living – you gotta eat) it is exactly the same. If the break gets too long it’s bloody hard to get it going again – and having family doesn’t make it easier if you sit at home. Some times other priorities turns up; kid get sick, mom gets sick so you have to take over e.t.c.

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