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Postmortem: Gaijin Games' BIT.TRIP BEAT
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Postmortem: Gaijin Games' BIT.TRIP BEAT


June 2, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next
 

3. We chose a publishing partner who worked well with us.

Another way we stayed in our comfort zone was by choosing to work with a publisher. Of course, we wouldn't see the financial returns or the fame that we might otherwise see were we to self-publish, but it was the business model that we were most familiar with and one of our goals was to get a game out fast to start building our brand. Working with a publisher fulfilled that goal.

Our publisher, Aksys Games, was one of the best publishers I've ever worked with. Above all else, their team is nice. But beyond that simple friendship aspect, they had no interest in owning our IP or tinkering with our product during the course of development.

The final product that you play is the exact game we set out to make. A lot of publishers like to tell independent developers what to do and what not to do, but we didn't run into that with Aksys. And whatever price we paid by working with a publisher was worth it.

Most developers view publishers as sinister entities that only want to string developers along, never quite allowing them to hit success and keeping them coming back for more advances that will never be paid off. Not ours. I got the sense from Aksys that they truly wanted us to succeed.

Our publishing partner gave us the reins and said "We trust you to make us all a good game."

4. We designed and developed a game within our scope and budget.

Even though we were very happy with the publishing deal we struck, the budget was more modest than we'd wanted, and the timeframe shorter than desired. However, because our publisher believed in us, and because we believed in ourselves, we decided to move forward and embraced the challenge of designing a game to fit the schedule/budget.

In the budget/schedule/scope triangle, they say that in working with a publisher, you usually can only have control of one of those aspects. While this may or may not be true, we took control of the scope and fit it to the budget and schedule. It was challenging at times, and features were cut, but we still told the story we wanted to tell and made a great game entirely within our means.

We had four months to make BIT.TRIP BEAT from pre-production to final, and we came in practically right on time.

5. We played our own game a lot.

Holy crap, do I like playing games. I play games a LOT. Over the course of the project, I played BIT.TRIP BEAT over and over again. As the designer, that's expected, of course (or it should be). But the other team members also played the game a lot.

I've been involved with many teams over the years and trying to get the team to play the game can sometimes be a headache. But on BEAT, we all made a concerted effort to keep our eye on the quality of our product.

Nearly every Friday, we would sit down and do an audit of the game, tearing it apart discipline by discipline. We'd take the feedback back to our individual workstations and spit and polish as much as possible.

Because we played the game often, we never lost sight of what its merits (and shortcomings) were.


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