Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EXP Podcast #69: The Finish Line

This past weekend concluded the 2010 San Francisco Game Developers Conference, which brought together developers from around the world to discuss all aspects of the games industry. Numerous talks were held covering a wide range of subject. One particularly interesting talk, embedded above, was by Chris Hecker, who called on designers to "finish" their games. Fittingly, we called on game developer Krystian Majewski, creator of the IGF Award nominated Trauma, to offer his professional wisdom. Join us this week while we discuss missing deadlines, game depth, charismatic marketers, and the importance of wacky ideas. As always, we encourage you to leave your comments below.

Discussion Starters:

- How percentage of games would you actually call "finished" according to Hecker's definition?
- Should indie developers have different responsibilities than AAA devs?
- Is there a place for weird and unfinished games in a health games industry?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 38 min 05 sec
- "Please Finish Your Game," by Chris Hecker, via
- See Game Design Reviews for more information about Trauma and Krystian Majewski
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. I'm thinking of two games, Assassin's Creed(1), which I finished some time ago and Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, which I'm playing right now.

    AC's technical side is beautiful, but it seems like they somehow forgot to put an actual game in it, so they just extended the tutorial to twelve hours...

    OF:DR is even more interesting, since for me it's so obvious that they had to take a lot of the stuff out, that made the first OF so unique, especially when it comes to the presentation of story and campaign.
    They probably had to focus so much on the user interface and the tecnical side, that they eventually didn't have enough time left to put enough game in it so that the player can actually make use of it.

    Luckily I enjoyed or am still enjoying both games, it's just two examples where the "oh crap, deadline" issue is so obvious.

    I also think that the infamous "90% syndrome" is pretty relevant in game developing and might be one reason for a lot of hasty close-to-deadline decisions.

    Btw, I'm not sure how this works with gdc, but did you guys get some sort of press pass, since I thought the whole thing was developers and "real" press exclusive?

  2. Metal Gear Solid 4 could not be a more representative example. All of the other MGS games eventually had an expansion with a ton of side missions that really did expand the stealth action to its logical conclusion, but MGS4 really drops the ball with a million things to do and ways of doing them and not nearly enough actual game to do it in.

    MGS4 is like giving a child enough Legos to construct a life-sized statue of liberty and then telling her she can't build anything bigger than a breadbox with them.

  3. Hey Christian!

    Interesting examples. Time waits for no man, as they say. Once hard deadlines are set, I suspect the stuff that gets finished is indicative of the game's overall "philosophy:" for AC, it's environment and visuals, and for OF:DR, it's systems.

    I hadn't heard of the "90% syndrome" before you mentioned it, but it seems applicable to just about everything, including software stuff. I always find "the last mile" sort of problems to be the hardest to resolve.

    As far as sneaking into GDC, Jorge was helping another website cover it. I attended which I mean I checked various websites and Twitter obsessively. :-)

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for stopping by. I completely agree: MGS4 was really astounding in regards to its complexity. Equally surprising is how you can get away with essentially ignoring huge sections of the game (weapon mods, camo options, items, mini-rex, etc.) I keep meaning to go back to the game to delve deeper into the systems, but I never seem to make time...

  4. Hey guys. It took me a month to get my ducks in a row. But I must say that doing that podcast was one of the highlights of my trip to SF. I would rank it even above the actual IGF award ceremony. I hope we can do it again sometime.

    Small typo: my Name at the very bottom. It's "Majewski" not "Mejewski".

  5. Ah! Sorry about that Krystian.

    Consider it fixed.

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