Gamasutra's postmortems have long been a source of information, inspiration, and cautious advice from game developers. Now, a new study by academics from the Rochester Institute of Technology, produced in conjunction with Microsoft Research, aims to boil down all of that knowledge into a single source so as to better illustrate the common pitfalls and successes in game development.
The freely downloadable document is the result of combing through postmortems -- all sourced here, on Gamasutra -- and the authors describe it as an attempt to "qualitatively and quantitatively analyze 155 retrospective postmortems pubished on Gamasutra.com over 16 years."
That's a lot bigger than our own previous attempt to analyze a subset of the data -- Ara Shirinian's substantive look back at two years of Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer magazine's postmortems (the bulk of which are also published on Gamasutra.)
The team behind the new study split their analysis into 12 categories, including "art," "team," "marketing," and "scope." Below, you can see two graphs pulled from the study which quanitfy instances of "what went right" and "what went wrong" -- the two standard sections in Game Developer and Gamasutra postmortems -- across these 12 categories.
It's a comprehensive analysis, with representative quotes pulled straight from the original sources.
If all this has gotten you interested in visiting Gamasutra's back catalogue of postmortems, there's good news: all 155 reviewed in the study are currently available on the website. Here's a list of 10 classic postmortems you should read, including highlights like Deus Ex and Baldur's Gate II; but you can also dive into the development of classics like Resident Evil 4, cult hits like Deadly Premonition, and up-to-date indies like 80 Days.