Game Development Principles 

Hello Goblin Gang! It’s been a while since we updated this roadmap, but please: be not afraid, development of Watch Out for Goblins! continues. We love the chaotic physics toy we’ve created and are working hard to build it into a fun game. 

That said, development has slowed down a bit. After our last playtest build Joel and I were both feeling a little burnt out. We had been pushing too much energy into WOFG!- and why wouldn’t we, it’s a fun, exciting project we are passionate about- but that made us push some other things (work, family, self-care) down our list of priorities. It wasn’t sustainable. So we gathered around a whiteboard to brainstorm how we can approach dev in a way that lets us make meaningful progress without self-imposed crunch.      

We wanted to define some game development principles to help guide how we work together. We hope these will help us work better as a team and give us room to work on projects over a long term without burnout. We hashed it out to three main principles:

1. Input Based Goals 

This simply means that we want to set goals based on things we can control. Game development is unpredictable- it’s hard to predict how long a feature will take to implement. We want our goals to be achievable so we can celebrate them. If we set goals that say “we want to implement y feature by x date” then we might have to crunch to get it implemented in time, and even then we might fail. If we set goals that say “we will spend x hours working on feature y”  we can always achieve that goal because it’s not dependent on output. We can celebrate our victories and if the feature gets implemented it’s a bonus.

This means we won’t be setting hard deadlines for milestones anymore. We understand that not everyone can get away with this kind of goal setting- but we think it will work for us. Development on WOFG! is fully independent and self-funded. The only people we are accountable to are ourselves and our players. We don’t want to make promises we can’t deliver on, so we won’t. This way we can keep working on our game and deliver it to the people excited to play it when it is ready to be played. 

2. Follow the Fun 

Our number one goal is to make a game that is fun to play. When we have fun with our game we want to take notice and be flexible in our design to make the fun parts the focus. We had been initially developing WOFG! as a strategy game, but we are shifting our focus to a physics platformer. We have realized that the fun part of the game is the chaotic physics interactions and the strategy-game doesn't really work. We could spend more time and energy trying to get it to work, but we feel our time would be better spent highlighting what is working. We don’t know what’s going to be fun until we try it- so we will work to prototype new ideas quickly so we can find fun, and know what we should be working on.    

Playtesting is a very important part of “following the fun”. There have been lots of times where we feel we have a fun mechanic- but playtesters can’t access it for one reason or another. We have already made WOFG! much better using feedback from our early playtesters and will continue to seek playtesters for the rest of development. It really is the fastest way to find both the parts of the game that are fun now as well as the parts that need more work.

3. Empathy and Honest Communication 

We are human people working on a game. We have faults and strengths, good days and bad. No one is productive every day, and that’s okay. We can’t excel by treating ourselves like machines, and self-care is never detrimental to great art.

We will need a community for our game to find success while remaining true to these principals. We don’t want to build that community by making promises we can’t keep, so we plan to build it with honest communication about the project and by listening with care to the players that choose to engage with our games.

Those are the development principles we want to follow while working on WOFG! (and maybe other games too!) going forward. We plan to work smarter so we can deliver the best physics-chaos we possibly can. Thank you for taking an interest in our little goblin game. We hope you continue to follow along with development in 2024.

Sending big goblin hugs your way,

-Conor and Joel Rochon