You know what sucks? When you’re a game developer and you make a game that no-one ever gets to play. This was happening at Facepunch a bit. There were two fundamental problems developing.

Fuck It

It’s hard to stay objective with games you’re working on. That’s especially the case if the development is happening in near secret with the same six people playing it constantly. It’s hard to know whether you’ve got something, it’s hard to know whether it’s worth your time. Motivation dries up and it becomes a slog. A game wants to be played. A game developer wants to see their game be played. When people give a fuck about what you’re doing, it’s the biggest motivation booster you can get.

Feedback Led Development

If people aren’t playing your games you have no feedback. You could argue that this is what early access is for, but there’s got to be a stage before early access, way before you ask people to pay any money. Somewhere where feedback from players decides whether a project is worth working on, whether it needs to pivot and improve, or whether it just needs to fuck off and die already.

Solutions

Writing blogs comes naturally to me. I’ve been mouthing off on the internet every day for 25 years. So I tried to encourage the guys to make regular blogs about their projects. This broke down at some point. I guess it doesn’t come as naturally to everyone. It probably isn’t the greatest motivation to post really early screenshots and talk about programming.

Another partial solution would be to get a bunch of kids into the office a couple of times a month to play the games while we stand there and watch them. I hate this. It seems like something you’d do before the internet was invented. Plus you’re targeting the wrong people. You don’t want to tailor your game for random people who want to come to an office to play games. You want to tailor your game for people who are in your exact mind-set. You want to forge out a niche. That’s something you can only do on the internet.

Prototypes

We’ve had a secret game on Steam for a while, called Facepunch Prototypes. We’ve been using it as a dropbox so that everyone at Facepunch can play each others work in progress stuff. And that’s worked reasonably well. But we need more people to play these games.

So we’ve started putting all our failed and work-in-progress projects on there.

The idea being that we’ll end up with a real life “the beginners guide” which will be fun for people to browse around while enabling our guys to get feedback on what they’re doing.

We’ve had it set up for a couple of weeks and have handed out a bunch of keys to guys on the forums, and it’s already giving us some really good feedback, some really strong motivation. You have no idea how much posts like this motivate us.

Keys

We’re trying to find a fun/fair way to distribute keys that doesn’t involve money. We haven’t come up with one yet – so if you want a key and know someone at who works here, just beg them for one.