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ReleaseThese days, everybody seems to be asking me, "When is your game going to be done?" or even more bluntly, "When is it going to be finished?"
In complete sincerity, I don't actually mind the question. It's perfectly natural for people to be curious. But there's a deep assumption underlying that question that I really struggle with. It's the idea that a game might ever be finished.
You see, back in the "packaged goods era", we used to make video games (i.e. software) that would be burnt into silicon ROM chips, or etched onto optical discs. This media would then be wrapped in alternating layers of plastic and cardboard, and ultimately stickered and sold at an outrageous mark-up at a magical place called the "point of sale".
Back in the old days, it made sense. We talked about finishing games, sometimes even had to rush them, to get them on time to that magical faraway land - the "point of sale", where they could be released.
I like to live in more modern times.
These days, when a game is ready, it is "Launched." Much like a ship on its maiden voyage on the open ocean, a game is launched onto the open internet, into unfamiliar territory. There will be changes. There will be problems. Maybe even icebergs. When we come across these unknowns, we are no longer surprised. We take them in our stride and carry on.
More important than that, and just like the ship on its maiden voyage, there will be an ongoing dialogue between the new captains and the old owners. And that dialogue will evolve and change over time.
LaunchThe biggest difference between Releasing a game and Launching a game is that somebody still cares. Long after that initial purchase is made.
In this brave new online world, as long as you're still playing my game, as its creator, I still have an obligation to listen to your opinions.
So when someone asks me, "When is your game going to be finished?" what I'm hearing in my head is, "When are you going to be finished with your game?" i.e. "When are you going to stop caring about your players?"
And the answer to that is "Never."