How to Hit a Curveball


Last week, some of my colleagues threw me a curve ball. The game that I had been working on all summer was missing something important. More than that, it was boring! Boring, what?! This was my game. They’d played it before and thought it was fun then, so what was going on?! The indignity of it. The insult!

It took a little while, but I eventually understood what they were talking about. There WAS something missing… and it was something that one wouldn’t notice was missing until the game was far enough along to be feeling like a complete, playable game. Maybe their complaining about this missing something now was a backhanded complement of sorts? The game was ready for a new level of consideration… and criticism? Dang! What now?

The answer to “what now” was several days of lengthy, frustrating conversations with Mat at GameGurus. Back and forth, we discussed the feedback. What were people saying? What did they really mean by what they were saying? What parts did we agree with? What parts were things we could legitimately ignore… or acknowledge but then not come at head on? Most importantly, what needed to happen to the game as a result of all this? Let’s just say it was not a fun couple of days, but then, somehow, it was.

Grappling with a challenge can be fun of a sorts, especially when all your work seems to actually be chipping away at the issue. The conversations grew less frustrated and more energized. We were coming to consensus—just the two of us—on something we thought would fit with all the nitty-gritty needs of the game that most people, including our colleagues, would be unaware of, while addressing their “something missing” concerns. We had a plan to make the game “not boring”!

Another round of worry. What if the others didn’t agree? We liked the idea, but would they? Were we right? Was this a fun, game-enhancing idea? We shared, waiting nervously for their reactions. Success! Phey! They liked it! We had done it… at least until the next time!


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