Indie Game Dev Tip #1 – Quantity Is Better Than Quality (5 Reasons Why)
Today I want to talk about something that I’ve seen a lot about on social media lately. The debate of QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY. I have chosen a side based on experience of doing all kinds of things such as: programming, business, and all that kind of stuff. I think quantity is more important than quality.
Anytime you do something, the more you do it the more you get better at it.
These are 5 reasons:
- Finishing something is a confidence booster.
When I was working on long term projects, it can become a slog. It’s hard to stay motivated and keep at it, especially when you’re doing a lot of stuff that don’t really have any immediate results. I call it “dark work” which is the kind of work that you do where you’re not seeing anything at all and there’s nothing changing on the surface. Nevertheless, you still have to put all the work into it like building the engine or the different stuff behind the scenes and all that stuff.
So when you actually work on smaller projects and you focus on quantity over quality, you start to get into the groove. You find that when you finish things, it gives you a confidence booster to finish the next thing, and it becomes addicting. When I started finishing little projects, it would make me want to finish more. There are so many days when I didn’t even want to get on the computer, I didn’t even want to work on my thing, and I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to sit down and do this one thing.”
I would do it and finish it then I would feel good. This would boost my confidence and motivate me to keep going and do more things. It was great to realize that and it helped me get my work done.
- Designing for mass appeal is a lot harder than discovering it.
Here’s what I mean by that. For Triple-A games, a lot of these companies have massive marketing and research budgets. They can spend tons of money on ads, focus groups, and user data. They can do a ton of testing in the in the early phases. They can spend so much money that they are essentially designing a game that they know people want to play.
Indies don’t have that luxury. Many Indies don’t have big fat wallets. They can’t spend that kind of money on user research, user testing, and all those things. So designing a game that’s going to get mass appeal is a lot harder for the smaller guys. Especially if it takes you a long time to build your project, say 2-3 years or something like that. There’s no way for you to know whether it’s going to gain mass appeal or not. You will know if it’s a fun game because you’re obviously you’re showing people, getting their feedback, and working on it as you go. However, mass appeal is a completely different ballgame. That’s mass adoption, and that’s a lot harder to design than it is to discover.
Discovery is a lot simpler. For example, instead of making 1 game that will take you a year to do, make 10 different games. You can then see which of those 10 games performs better and then you can iterate on just that one and make it better. It can turn into a full-scale game that works for you and makes you money.
It would be much too slow to start from the bigger projects than smaller ones. Quantity over quality helps you discover what people like, what they’re doing, what they will share with their friends, and all that kind of stuff.
It’s a lot easier to discover it by putting out a bunch of different projects, seeing what sticks, and then focusing on that one more than anything else. Personally, that’s what I tend to do. I did that with YouTube in my articles. I put out a video about my college experience and it worked really well. So I wrote an article about it and shared the article with the video and that also did well. I’ve done that in so many different facets of my life, and it really allows me to not put in all the effort, time, and the money into research.
I just throw a bunch of stuff out, see what sticks, and then I focus on the thing that. This has been a major game changer for me.
- Iteration is a better way to work.
This is merely expanding on that previous point. When you throw out a bunch of stuff and see what sticks, iterating on that and making smaller versions of it, and just improve it gradually as time goes by, I think that that’s a better way than designing something big.
For example, if you have this idea for a year-long project, what would happen if you just made the very bare bones, basic version of it? As in the smallest game that you can make based on that idea. If people like it, you can iterate out and add in other features and content.
In the startup world, this is known as a MVP or a Minimum Viable Product. It’s the idea that you shouldn’t start with this massive dream of a project. You should start with the basic version of it.
A Minimum Viable Product means it has to be viable. This means that you can’t just cut out features. For example, if you’re making a platformer, you can’t say, “Oh it’s done” but the dude doesn’t jump or there are no enemies or something like that. It has to be a viable product, but it’s the minimum possible viable product.
In game design, you can make a basic version of your game without all the content, without all the extra features, without all that stuff—and you can figure out whether people like it or not. You don’t have to spend the year or two that it takes to make that game, you could just make a smaller version of it.
I think that’s a smarter way to go when you combine that with number 2. You just throw a bunch of stuff out, see what works, iterate, and improve it over time. This is how I was able to get to where I am now, especially in software and game design.
Initially, I would put in hours and hours of stuff that just didn’t go anywhere. Nobody wanted it, nor cared. That’s a really bad way to run a business because that’s how you lose money. It’s actually a bad way to do anything.
- Consistency is a fantastic way to build an audience.
The problem with bigger longer games is that there’s a lot of dark work. There’s a lot of work that no one sees. Long periods of time where you were developing, making, designing and no one sees progress. There’s nothing to share, nothing to show.
Now good marketers can combat this. They know how to create content. They know how to keep their audience engaged and stuff. But a lot of Indies aren’t great marketers. They only know how to kind of show their progress which is the simplest form of content marketing—just showing the progress that they’re making.
When you’re working on smaller projects, the leaps and bounds that you make, you can share them a lot more frequently, you can engage an audience a lot more often, because you’re sharing this stuff constantly. It also means that your launch windows are a lot closer together which helps build an audience.
Audiences like to see consistency, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or whatever. They like to see it repeatedly. They know they come here next month or next week or tomorrow and you’re going to have more content for them. They like to build it into their ritual.
So that’s a fantastic way to get an audience because they come to expect the things that you put out. Building smaller projects can do wonders for building your audience, building your following online, and helping you out there.
- Quality comes from quantity.
When I was 12 or 13, I tried to make the next Halo. I got frustrated because that game was impossible for me to make—was made by a hundred dudes sitting in a room with millions of dollars. Microsoft backed it and there was no way I could have made the next Halo all by myself.
I found that concentrating on smaller projects, I learn more and am able to do more. I’m able to get more shit done. My work just looks, feels, and works better the more I do it. I’ve noticed this with so many things in life but programming and art specifically. You can’t go wrong. If you want to be a good artist, just do art every single day, just draw shit every single day. If you want to be a good programmer, do programming every day.
Quality comes from quantity. I think that that is the pinnacle of this concept and this article. I think quality is a byproduct of quantity. You can’t do something repeatedly and get worse. It’s impossible. You can’t do that even if you wanted to.
That’s all. If you have anything to add or if you have a story about how you focused on putting stuff out or anything like that, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.