Friday, June 5, 2015

From Game Reviewer to Game Dev: The Struggle

I have had this site since I was a student in 1997, back when the Otaku Fridge was still hosted at GeoCities. It has launched my career in web development and eventually helped me get into the game development industry. I have written so many game reviews that are more detailed than my anime or manga reviews. You may have noticed, however, that I haven't been reviewing anything for the past few months.

I still could write game reviews when I became a game writer/tester and eventually a producer because the producer job entailed making sure all the developers were delivering on time while keeping the budget in check. Thing is, the longer I spent in the game industry, the harder it became for me to write reviews.

And that became even more difficult when I decided to go indie and become a developer myself. I look back at all the reviews I have written and I wonder how many developers' morale I have crushed with my words. Let's break it down into smaller, chewable pieces:

1. We already know our games' flaws before reviewers even mention them.
We learn a lot in video game studies and game design classes. We know all the design principles. We have testers to tell us what's wrong with our designs. Thing is, the implementation is not as easy as it looks. I've spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to make conflicting features work with each other and yet frustratingly fail about 60% of the time. Which leads us to cut some features out or we'd never get the game shipped. Sometimes, we only learn how to fix conflicts in the next iteration, the next game project. So yes, we know what reviewers want to say and we'd like to do it the way most reviewers say we should. Truth is, we can't always.

Many of us don't want to end up like these devs, whom I'm guessing have worn themselves out.

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