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Taking risks and learning from failure is vital, says XCOM dev

'The only way you can offer value to people is coming up with something new. When you try to come up with something new, failure is a big part of that,' explains XCOM design lead Jake Solomon.
"The key is to fail efficiently. When we fail, look at it right in the eyes and say, 'What did that teach us?'"

- XCOM creative director and design lead Jake Solomon on how developers should fail productively.

In a recent interview from GameSpot, Solomon called back to a talk he gave at PAX East last month in which he explained that failure is an unavoidable part of game development, but can actually be vital to success.

Speaking again on the topic, Solomon dove into how the same thing can be said about triple-A development, but that the sheer scale of some projects can both raise the stakes and alter the challenges developers face.

“The only way you can offer value to people is coming up with something new. When you try to come up with something new, failure is a big part of that, and so that means failure is a very big part of what I do,” said Solomon. “And so there's a very good chance that my failure could end up becoming big enough that maybe a game is my last game, for a long time or forever.”

Solomon says that failure in the triple-A development sphere can be damning for developers, but shying away from any potential risks can be equally as damaging in the long run. The trick, for both large and small studios alike, is planning with failure in mind and making sure that you walk away from each of those moments having learned something new.

“You have to take risks, you have to innovate, otherwise you're not offering value and people will find it somewhere else. At the same time, those risks could sink you if you don't fail fast enough and get to the actual right answer, so I think it really is kind of a tightrope.”

For an in-depth look at the kind of beneficial failure Solomon says developers should experience, as well as some wisdom on how designing a sequel shifts creative ownership, head over to GameSpot to read the full interview.

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