Delays happen everywhere. They happen at the smallest video game studios, but also at the giant companies. The reasons for delays might be different, but in our case it was always pretty much the same.
We either didn’t have time or weren’t experienced enough.
Starting from simpler things so from delays due to lack of time. We definitely had huge issues about that during the development of Market Dominion. Without any real audience, budget nor real future plans we simply had to work on it whenever we got a chance. We often worked in our free time, but sometimes it definitely wasn’t enough. Certain features could really stretch over time. Additional issue to that was time coordination between us. In the past, 9-hour difference separated us and time zones were the real pain. Nowadays, we still work in our free time, however this time around the whole work is more organized and it definitely influenced the speed of development. The games still take more than usual to complete, but that’s just natural way of things at such rate.
Complexity of designs is also a big killer and a reason for slowed down development and in result – delays. Sometimes the designer might get too ambitious ideas or the mechanic was designed in a very complex way – it’s common (even more common without proper experience). I know this pain very well, as I am the game designer myself.
At first, for Market Dominion, we didn’t really notice issues with complexity, but soon the issues started piling up. Some of the designs were quite complex and we weren’t experienced enough to deal with them properly or they simply didn’t make much sense. Some simplifications came through, but that often required more changes and that resulted in delays. Remakes, tough to crack bugs and even at one point memory leak made the entire project pretty vulnerable to delays. We’ve learned our lesson from that.
Sierra Nevada came through as a test for our new strategies, based on our experience with Market Dominion. It was a big test with the designs and designing skills, work organization and others. We definitely did much better with that one.
Delays often happen and they’re quite unexpected at times as well. It can be very minor, but it also can be as significant as a broken PC for the next few weeks, putting the whole development on verge of a sudden stop. Often they are either hard to control or not really controlable at all. We cannot have control over all of it, but we’re definitely trying to keep up the good work. Perhaps one day, everything will turn into full time job and we won’t have trouble with that anymore. That would at least mean a bit faster development…
To be continued..