Dev Diary – Innovation

by Alison J. McKenzie

You’re not going to make what you set out to make.

That’s one of the hardest parts about building a game. It’s also one of the best. Whatever your grand vision was when you started out, it’s not going to be what you end up with. It might be close, or it might be completely different, but it sure won’t be the same.

Games Omniverse is a pretty young company. We’ve been working on this project for a while, but we’re still laying down the brickwork. Already we’ve faced some major changes. People joining the team. People leaving the team. Software researched, purchased, learned, and abandoned. A completely new game engine direction—code scrapped, new tech harnessed.

And the game that we’re making now is not the game we set out to make.

Sure, it has some of the same plot concepts. It has some of the same game mechanics. But new mechanics have been introduced—then abandoned, then replaced. New directions have been forged.

That’s what innovation really means. It means to keep pushing yourself. Your first idea is probably not your best one. Your fifth idea may not be your best one, either. New people on the team means new perspectives. New ideas can come from anywhere. Unexpected problems can arise. No matter how much experience you have, or how much planning you’ve done, something will be changed. That is part of the process—a vital part.

A new idea might come up that completely invalidates something you’ve been working on for a while. If you don’t give that new idea the proper attention, the creative process will stagnate. Does that mean you have to accept the idea? No, of course not. But you do have to consider it. And I mean really consider it. Don’t just come up with a list of reasons why it won’t work without considering the reasons why it will, which will be tempting to do, even if you’re actively trying not to do it.

It means you might have to give up something you’ve put a lot of yourself into. It means that something you were excited about might not happen after all. Something better will take its place, maybe not right away, but eventually—but what sort of comfort is that now?

And that’s what makes this the hardest part of building a game. You have to fall in love with something, and then you have to objectively consider killing it.

It’s a pain you have to learn to deal with. It’s a growing pain. Embrace it. Remember that you love your game, and you only want the best for it.

I can’t tell you what our game will be like when it’s done, because I don’t know—not really. But I assure you, it’s going to go through a lot of major changes, and it’s going to be awesome.

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