"People have described so many games as unfinished, but what they mean is 'You could do more.'
- Frontier Developments chief David Braben, speaking to Glixel about the woolly nature of modern game development.
When is your game complete?
Every developer has a different answer to that question. In a recent conversation with Rolling Stone's Glixel, veteran game developer and Frontier Developments chief David Braben offered his own opinion: "I would say no game is ever finished."
It's a potentially interesting bit of perspective for devs who are now trying to release games in market that has room not only for physical and digital-only games across a wide variety of platforms, but various routes for devs to put their work out there in an "unfinshed" state (Kickstarter, Steam's Early Access, Itch.io's Refinery, Google Play's Early Access, etc.) and generate income from fans.
Of course, Braben's answer came in response to a specific question about Frontier's Elite: Dangerous, which went on a bit of a crowdfunding rollercoaster and was later released on Steam's Early Access service in late 2014.
"When we first released the game, there were so many things we wanted to do," Braben told Glixel. "There's a point where you have to say, well, let's go with that. It's a great game, but we can make things better continuously now. People have described so many games as unfinished, but what they mean is 'You could do more.'"
He went on to draw a parallel between game developers and creators in mediums like film, literature, and painting who surreptitiously returned to their work -- sometimes years after it had been released to the public, like George Lucas' special editions of the Star Wars films -- to tweak and change things to their liking.
For more from Braben on everything from how long he would like to Elite: Dangerous to go on ("10-plus years") to why he feels games are at a peak when they are a "simulation of everything", check out the full interview over on Rolling Stone's website.