The Make and Release Programs Program
Have now largely finished Celebrate FTW!, which means fully confronting its core philosophical difficulty: I’m not allowed to release it on my website until the show it’s going to be in opens in October. Obviously this is hardly a big ordeal, waiting, but I find it really does feel a little off because I’m so used to the cycle of making something (reasonably quickly) and then putting it out “there” for people to see.
More specifically, the experience is making me see how important it seems to be to me to just release things when they’re done, rather than perhaps think more carefully about whether they’re really ready or polished enough, whether it’s a good day to release something, and so on. I’m pretty sure I’ve written before about the whole “high speed” game making idea, and I’ve certainly read and heard other people talking about how that the central tenet of getting into making games is to… make games. That’s how you get better at it, perhaps – but more fundamentally, and more zen-koan-y, making games is how you make games.
What doesn’t get recommended so much is the idea that you should quickly release every game you make. And perhaps that’s good advice. You do hear creative people talking about the importance of “killing your babies” or editing or shelving projects that aren’t working. I completely believe that one very respectable way to think about the creative process – that’s it’s kind of serious and work-like and that you take a matching serious attitude. It could also be thought about in terms of respect for your audience (should you have one) – you don’t ship things out into the world that aren’t quite right.
On the other hand, the process of quickly making an idea that may or may not actually “work” and then releasing it into the wild is really exhilarating. Yes, it does mean that some of the things you put out there aren’t completely thought through (War Game springs to mind for me). It does mean they might be a bit broken, a bit ill-advised. And yet at a meta level, I feel like it communicates a real excitement about the central point of this: