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World of Love: For God’s sake, ship!

By on June 29, 2010
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At World of Love, Terry Cavanagh of Distractionware talked about how “game jams” turned him from being a wannabe indie to someone who has shipped fifty games in the past two years (including VVVVVV which you can find at http://thelettervsixtim.es/).

In late 2007, he quit his job to write an big RPG – his magnum opus and his dream. The trouble was that he had been working in the mainstream games industry dull finance industry for so long that he hadn’t “finished” a game since he was a teenager.

Fast forward to mid 2008 and he was miserable. Not making progress, and not feeling like he was getting closer to shipping.

He then joined a game jam (in his case, one at www.tigsource.com). which encouraged him to conceive, write, launch and SHIP a game in a month.

Game jams tend not to have a commercial focus, but Terry said that it changed his worldview: getting a game finished is enormously satisfying but, more importantly, finishing a game makes you know so much more about starting a game. It makes you a better game designer.

In short, Terry’s advice is that you should finish a game. I go one step further. You should ship your game. Launch your game. Release your game.

Until you write a game, you are not a game maker. You are a wannabe game maker.

But making it isn’t enough. Until you ship your game and let other people play it, criticise it, tear it to pieces, you’re still not a game maker. Any more than an aspiring novelist who has never published is a writer.

It’s scary to ship. But it’s not difficult.

You don’t need to ask permission anymore. You can just release. Put it on the web. Release on Steam or any number of other services. Put it on the AppStore. The number of gatekeepers are falling all the time.

Making a game is only the first step towards earning a living from making games. But it is the only pre-requisite.

The only thing stopping you is you.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • First question I ask to candidates for development studio roles: Have you ever made a game? Doesn't matter it was commercial or not, what matters to have gone through the process till the end. From a discussion at the Game Forum Germany in January, that's the most common question in most studios.