Gamasutra rather ingeniously decided to examine all its game postmortems over the past 3 years and actually look for common denominators. Thank goodness, since I wouldn’t have had the stamina to do it. Their study resulted in a list of 10 problems that repeatedly tripped up developers in making great games on time and on budget. What was problem number 1? You guessed it: content added too late.
We have repeatedly brought up the positive impact of bringing in writers early, and highlighted the importance of giving writers the chance to polish (problem #8). You can say we’re biased. I’m going to posit that Gamasutra isn’t. Here’s a quote from Alyssa Finley, talking about the successful Bioshock:
“We had many drafts of the story over the course of development, but the final draft turned out to be an almost complete rewrite.”
“Competing demands for time and resources meant that, unfortunately, some of the important narrative details of the game weren’t created until the final rewrite, and therefore required quite a bit of work to retrofit into an existing game.”
If a successful game with strong developer and publisher backing is wishing it had more time to write, chances are every other story-driven game experiences this problem in spades.
The impact is obvious and pervasive: “Getting story and features right is difficult at the best of times, but when that content comes in just under the wire, not only does that content suffer, every element of the game that relies on that content suffers.” Thanks, Gamasutra — we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
Did you read the article? What did you think of the other mistakes in game development?
This post brought to you by Writers Cabal, a game writing and design partnership.
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