Prompted by a Psychochild blog in a blog post last week Tobold asked for games designers using Kickstarter to should stop selling cheap visions and focus on doing the hard work and delivering the product with the features they announced when doing the fundraising. I have a couple of issues with that request.
Design is an iterative process.
Especially in the early days, things change frequently. Ideas build on top of other ideas and the overall vision leads to a different destination I once heard a tale where an artist knew a sculture was hidden inside the block, but he wouldn’t know exactly what it looked like until he had removed the excess material from the slab and seen what lay beneath. I think game design should be operate in a similar aim. There are themes and general ideas, but if a developer comes up with a feature that does something better, then they shouldn’t be restricted to producing the original feature just because that is what they sold in their Kickstarter
Ideas people aren’t necessarily good at translating into reality.
Very few people are good at everything, so why should we expect good game designers to be also able to manage their products efficiently. Films have writers, directors and producers. Sometimes they are the same person, but they are frequently split out because different people have different strengths. While we might expect full blown gaming companies to split those jobs, Kickstarter-funded games are generally small and people donating to these products frown upon companies that hire people that aren’t directly involved getting their hands dirty in producing the final game. Until that changes and we allow people to focus on their strengths, I think we need to be a bit forgiving about project drift
Making games is hard
Finally, making games isn’t easy. Case in point, Overwatch. If a huge studio like Blizzard with creative ideas people, strong record of delivering results, and proven ability to create one of the most successful MMOs of all time can spend the best part of a decade plus millions of dollars yet still fail to produce an MMO then how could we expect a small-indy studio to deliver a product exactly in line with their original ideas, within on time and on budget?