The importance of developing backup plans, because things will go wrong.
We always expect things to go right, until they don’t. A common mistake by game devs is to not account for failures, issues and externalities that impact development. Game development takes a lot of work and a long time. It is a virtual certainty that things will go wrong during development. Here are Matt’s general rules of contingency planning:
+ Take your timeline and multiply it by 3. This is a much more realistic estimate of actual game development. The reality is polish and optimization will take longer than you think. Marketing takes more time and energy than expected. Life events and burn-out will happen and will result in productivity loss. If your 3x timeline is unworkable, narrow the scope of your project.
+ What can cut if you need to? Make sure you isolate core features from nice-to-haves. Build and polish core mechanics first, and if development gets behind, cut out nice-to-haves so you can get to release. Don’t promise a bunch of nice-to-have features to fans until you are 100% sure you can execute.
+ If you lose a key member of your team, how will you carry on with development? Things happen. People fight, lose interest, get sick, have critical life events… don’t make your game development hinge on a single key person. Have a backup plan to keep things moving forward.