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How long should games take to make, anyway?

The downside of game jams (and open platforms) is having to review the games from them. Should games really be this simple and unpolished?

Jeremy Reaban, Blogger

March 26, 2013

2 Min Read

Somewhere along the line, I ended up doing game reviews semi-professionally. Which means I don't get paid for it, but have obligated myself to reviewing games. Mostly ones I would never buy myself, which is actually what interested me in the first place, I could try games without having to spend my own money.


For the most part, it was a great experience, with the exception of having to review not one, not two, but four different Farm Frenzy games.


Until, the site I wrote for switched to covering Playstation Mobile. I've now gone from reviewing games that took anywhere from 4 months to 2 years to make, to games that were apparently made in about 2 weeks to a few months at most.


The prices are about the same, but the difference in quality is quite noticeable. Not only the depth of gameplay, but the polish. What's even worse is finding those diamonds in the rough - games with good gameplay or clever ideas that deserve to be fully realized, not sent out before their time.


And Sony has apparently added to this environment, sponsoring a series of game jams where teams had a week to make a game, then if they won at the con, another month to polish it.


Yet even back in the Atari 2600 days, games usually were written in 6 months. Granted, usually be one person, but still, they spent time polishing and playtesting until they thought it was the best it could be. Some of the worst games from that era were rushed titles - Pac-Man and ET, and ended up costing the company in a big way.


I hope we aren't seeing a repeat of that, but it sure seems like it to my eyes. The difference of course was that those were the AAA titles of their day, but the same erosion of trust is possible.










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