More than an Inchstone

This entry was posted on Dec 20 2010

Though Ant refers to our recent internal demo as an inchstone, I see it as something bigger. At minimum, a full-fledged milestone. There are several reasons for my thinking:

1. First of all, it was awesome. Sure, it was nothing fancy, but it was the first time that the videogame portion became real. Before then, we had a couple of physical games we made for Mercury Retrograde. Sure, we had talked about, and Ant had even worked upon a video game for us, but this was the first time that we had something we could show and see work. That’s a pretty big deal, and it helps solidify our focus.

2. The demo fulfilled an important purpose in the game design process. Besides giving Ant a chance to show off, it also served as an inspiration for discussion and changes to the game.

3. It deepened the team’s working relationship. Though the team is nothing but Ant and I now, our discussions on changes went really well. When the idea for the first change appeared, we had a long conversation concerning feature creep, (believe me, I have a lot of random features in my head). Doing so led to a every talk concerning a possible change involve a separate talk about its value to the player, to ourselves, and how much work it would entail. This made it so very few changes made it through our talks, and others were shelved for later.

On weak teams, you can’t have talks like this. The product owner, or the marketing team, will come in and demand that changes be made or features be added, and the development team has to comply. That wasn’t the case here, and I am proud of that.

4. It shows that we are putting our money where our mouth is. Lots of people want to make games, and a lot of people will even go so far as to say that are going to, but very few people go out and actually try to make it happen. We are making it happen, and this demo helps show how serious we really are.

So, though the demo did not show a lot, and there is a lot of more work to do, this is still an important milestone for us, and a very nice Christmas present.


About jkempf

James Kempf, CEO of Cliché Studio, has made two games for Mercury Retrograde Press, learned from managing the comics at Criminal Records that John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, and once happily played a 12 ft. dwarf in Rifts.