Changing Directions

Starting development on a project is always a tricky beast. There are so many things to do, and so many competing goals that one of the most difficult questions to answer is simply, "Where do we start?" For us, we have two things pulling us in different directions:

  • Location: A big part of our game is using a player's location in an interesting way. This is probably the biggest technical hurdle we have to overcome, and one of the most unique elements about the game we're building.
  • "Gameplay": The "core gameplay", or thing that you'll be making the most active decisions about, is always a great place to start building something. It's one of the things we most aggressively prototyped, and one of the reasons we chose not to start building this in code first was that we had a fun, playable prototype that proved out most of the main elements of this core gameplay.

But as a startup, we have to continually evaluate what we're doing, and if it serves the most critical needs of our company. "What are we trying to do?" is a question whose answer evolves surprisingly fast as we make progress. One of the main reasons to focus on building the location elements first were not only that it's something that's fairly difficult to prototype on paper, but also, if we were able to do what we'd hoped to do with location, it'd be something unique to show potential investors. Which is why we started there.

But as we craft & evolve our pitch, and also think more and more about what we want out of our company and our process, it became clear that even though the location stuff is cool, one thing that it provides no path forward for is building something we can release quickly and start getting revenue from.

On the other hand, releasing an app based on the core "gameplay" mechanics can be a simple, standalone app that is fun on its own. It can prove to us that the core mechanics are fun with a larger audience, and most, if it's fun enough, people will spend money to buy things in it, which gives us real, honest-to-goodness traction. And revenue. And puts us in a much, much better place than having an abstract-ish piece of technology.

Better still, that simple game can almost seamlessly evolve over time into the big, complex, insane thing we have in mind, and we'll lose almost nothing in the process. Instead, we'll have built up an audience, gained knowledge, and refined the core gameplay mechanics so that we'll know those are awesome before adding complexity via a series of mechanics and systems that are way less familiar to players. So it looks like we're going to be changing our approach, putting one prototype on temporary hold while we focus on building a different prototype that can quickly be turned into a releasable game so that we can work our way to earning money and entertaining live players as fast as we can with the limited resources that we have.

It feels better. It feels more concrete. It feels... awesome. Now let's make it happen.