Minimalism and failure.

Michaël Samyn, March 12, 2012

Last week, I removed two features from the game design that I really liked. Both would take a lot of time to fine-tune and polish. And frankly I’m not even sure how much they would contribute to the whole. But removing certain features gives me more time to work on all the others, so they can become better.

The continuous exercise in minimalism when creating a videogame can be very frustrating at times. There is never enough time, there is never enough money, and the technology is never good enough to make what one really wants to make. But in my experience, this is the only way to come to a finished project. And it is of the utmost importance that projects are finished and released. Without that, there is no progress. Even if the game is not as good as one envisioned it, and not as rich, a released title will always be better than an unreleased one. The former can make a difference, the latter cannot.

I do believe in the aesthetic value of a videogame that is as sparse as it can possibly be: where everything in the game is essential and beautiful and nothing is excessive or badly implemented. But such minimalism goes against my creative nature. I keep having ideas and often only know if they are any good after implementing them. But that takes a lot of time, so I need to continuously reject ideas at the risk that some of the few sparse features that I do decide to keep, turn out to be completely uninteresting. Minimalism may be the only way to come to a finished product, but it’s also terribly risky.

The only solution for this dilemma is to accept the possibility of failure. Let’s make this one project as good as we can and if it turns out to be bad, so be it. Then we simply move to the next project, older and wiser.

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