Working Hard On Something? You Still Might Need To Cut It
That feature you work really hard on you might have to cut it out we’re going to talk about why coming up. What’s going on guys – Tim Ruswick here from Game Dev Underground gdu.io helping you build finish and launch better games. Today we’re going to talk about something that has plagued me along with a whole bunch of developers out there.
I used to struggle with this a lot I still struggle with this because your body has a bias to like the things that you create right? Like your mind automatically tends to like the things that you made over other things. So we’re going to talk about why working hard on something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should keep it in. So a long time ago in a galaxy far far away I used to like to build massive sci-fi worlds right? I used to build these these huge amazing things the huge amazing stories these epic worlds these epic battles races of people how they interacted with each other like who was fighting who and all that kind of stuff.
And I remember specifically for this game that I had Echo One it was a really tiny dinky little top-down tank game but the world that I had built for it I wanted to build a massive world so that a few of my different games could fit inside the same world and I can tell multiple stories inside the same world I thought that would be a really cool idea. But as I started creating new concepts as I started building things I started adding things I really the some of the stuff just wasn’t making sense I didn’t want to cut anything because I had built it all.
And when I first started building a Echo One a long time ago I think I must have been like 17 or 18 so you know I was a good ten years ago now and when I came back to it a couple years later like I found all the world building files like that I built maps I built all kinds of crazy stuff that like it was it was actually pretty cool going back through it and discovering this whole world and these spaceships in these manufacturers and these companies and all this stuff.
And I wanted to adapt that world to one of my newer games Black Rim which I’ve talked about a few times, but I felt like I couldn’t because that world was that world and I had to work on this other thing I had to build something new. And I went back and forth like do I do I change this thing or do I keep it the same out of nostalgia just because like my younger self always wanted to create this. Like do I create it that way as a nod to my earlier creativity I guess or something like that I don’t know what I was thinking.
But I realized that like I was super hyper sensitive to the fact of changing anything because I had built it. I had built it all. And this resurfaced later in a lot of my prototyping. Sometimes in some of the games that I was building Philophobia especially I would add in mechanics. The mechanics wouldn’t feel like they were a hundred percent at home because it was a platformer game it was a really simplistic platformer.
And in platformers the good ones you can’t just add in random mechanics it’s not how it works. Like really good ones have like a single mechanic that they expand upon throughout the whole game so just adding in random mechanic doesn’t make sense but that’s what I was doing I was just adding in random mechanics. And because I had spent so much time building this stuff and tweaking it and testing it I really didn’t want to let it go. But it wasn’t until I got feedback on the game and I showed it to people and everybody said the same thing I was like I don’t want to admit this but it’s so hard to cut stuff that you’ve worked really hard on.
And I think that is the lesson right. In storytelling or in game mechanics and programming whatever just because you work hard on something doesn’t mean it has to stay in your game. It doesn’t mean it should stay at your game. Sometimes the stuff we work the hardest on is the last thing that should be in the game. And I learned that the hard way okay like it’s never fun to work days or weeks or months on something and then have to cut it out. But sometimes it doesn’t work.
And if you want to build a good game if you want to build a great experience that a lot of people enjoy you got to listen to a lot of people you got to listen to the feedback that you get you got to listen to what yourself is telling you when you play through it and just doesn’t feel right. So sometimes you have to cut out stuff that you worked hard on. And it’s hard man. Believe me it’s very hard it’s I hate to do it myself. I hate to to make that should happen and kind of cut the stuff that is just not there.
But you know I was talking to a friend a couple months ago and we were talking about engineering and he said one of his engineering teachers had told him I’m gonna butcher the quote I’m sure it’s basically famous or something, but he said that great you can tell a great engineer not by what when there’s something left to add but when there’s nothing left to take away. And I thought about that for a moment like I said there in silence I was like wow that’s really profound because all of the greatest things in life are the ones that remove all of the unnecessary things that we don’t need. Like what made the iPod a great product it removed all of the the crazy stuff that everybody was trying to do.
There was FM radio receivers there was there was like it was really complex the software that you use the how you put mp3s in folders and then put them on the device like a memory card it was like they took away a lot of the freedom right with the device is the same thing with with their phones right compared to Android. They took away a lot of the freedom and the ownership that a lot of people had they took away a lot of stuff but in doing that they made it simplistic. They made it better in a way for certain people. They made they made something that could be really understood and really like appreciated for what it was now.
I’m not a super Apple fan I happen to like Windows and Android but the the Android builds that I like the best I used to mod my phone a lot I used to install different roms just because all of these companies add a bunch of stuff in on top of it. They make the experience complex they add stuff you don’t need they add all these features everybody’s trying to push their latest features. And sometimes the best things are a result of taking away all the unnecessary stuff. In my book I talk about categorizing features into one of three categories.
You got the game changers which are like the new stuff that no one’s ever seen before that are really going to make the game. You got the showstoppers that are is basically stuff that you’ve got to have or it wouldn’t be a game like at a platformer you got to have something that jumps. And then you you have the stuff that is just a filler the stuff that you really don’t need.
And anything that fits in that category you should cut out. Because it’s not going to be beneficial long term. It’s not going to I’m talking about core mechanics too right like though it’s always good to have like collectibles or little extra details that can help to play what I’m talking about like the core of the game here. Just because you worked hard on it does not mean that you should keep that part in. Or it will in level design in anything that you do just remember that.
And a lot of times we get so caught up in the thing that we build we want to keep it in there. Like we we think of like especially when I was designing levels for Philophobia I felt like every level was my masterpiece and I wanted that but I realized by watching people play it like dude some of those levels are just they’re the wrong difficulty, they have the wrong pacing they don’t make sense, how it works like sometimes you just gotta cut it out.
So I’ve been preaching a lot about this lately about cutting stuff out and cut it in half and all that but I thought you guys would find it useful I hope you did if you did please leave me a comment I’d love to hear from you guys as always. But until next time once again I’m Tim Ruswick and I’ll see you next time.