Momonga Monday: Did We Fail Miserably?

On this beautiful Pentecost Monday I want to talk about something that’s been bugging me for a while now: The Deadline.

Remember the Momonga trailer we sent out a couple of months ago? It got great coverage from sites like Kotaku and TouchArcade, and with 10k+ views on Youtube, people really seem to like it. Awesome.

I don’t see no Fail here. Spill the beans!

Well, the trailer casually mentions “Coming Spring 2012”.

Officially, Spring ends on June 20th.

And as that deadline approaches, one thing is clear to me: We will not make it.

OMG but why?

There are plenty of reasons for this, but the primary issue is that things take longer than we expected. One of the core principles is that the user experience should be awesome. We refuse to sacrifice awesomeness in exchange for a faster release date or lower budget. Sounds weird, perhaps, but without an awesome product we will never get to where we want to be.

To provide that awesomeness takes time. In particular, these bottlenecks keep popping up:

  1. It takes a lot of time to design and implement an awesome GUI
  2. It takes a lot of time to design and polish an awesome level
  3. It takes a lot of time to hunt and kill un-awesome bugs

This adds up, and next thing you know you are three weeks away from your deadline, and not even close to shipping a finished product.

Now what?

When something like this happens, first thing is that you announce it to the world. That is what I am doing now. 😉

Then you need to consider the consequences. In our case, we will not make the deadline of June 20th. And it will cost a bit more money.

The third thing is to consider whether these consequences are critical. Because if they are, you will need to ship no matter what – even if the product sucks. In this case, to be honest, the consequences are bearable: The deadline was self-imposed and the budget is flexible. However, with a bigger budget we will have a harder time breaking even. It’s putting even more eggs in the same old basket. I believe in this project, so a bit of extra budget won’t kill anyone. But it’s real money, so we need to be careful with that.

Then there is a last step: Limit the damage. What can we do to launch as soon as we can, and don’t go over budget too much? Well, I guess there is one thing: Kill your darlings.

Kill my precious darlings?

Yup, that’s what I will be doing the upcoming weeks.

For example, I have over-ambitious plans for something called “Paladin Arena”. It is a multi-platform, multi-social-network system that allows you to play a game on any device with any of your friends on any of your preferred social networks.

Consider it killed.

At least for version 1.0.

There are other big features, like bonus levels. And little features: extra challenges, a super awesome start screen, a cliffhanger at the end and a “Gift This App” button.

I will decide what to do with these things in the upcoming weeks. But there is a good chance that we will have to kill those as well.

This means that we have work to do after the launch. There will be room for improvement, and hopefully we will be given the opportunity to make these improvements along the way. That’s up to the iPhone gamers, and we will find out soon.

What Survives?

The essentials. The things that contribute to the core gaming experience.

For example, here is the backdrop for the Level Selection GUI:

levelmap28_small-1024x341

The Panda boss stage is going to be awesome.

And last week I mentioned a new boss fight. I will not reveal that one yet, but he is hilarious. 🙂

Of course, the storyline will be there.

We will have an awesome interface.

Game Center support.

The list goes on, suffice to say that the game will be awesome.

So… give us a new date!

Ah, the one question that asks it all. When will we release Momonga?

Truth is, I don’t know. It will not be months and months away, but we will not make June 20th either. We will only release it when we feel that it’s something amazing, and there are plenty of dependencies and unknowns for that. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s done when it’s done.

So, what do you think? Are we setting the bar too high? Or is striving for something awesome the way to go? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your day off, and see you next week!

Cheers,
Derk

4 Comments
  • René
    Posted at 12:43h, 30 May Reply

    Are you setting the bar high? No. Too high? … maybe. Sticking to the essentials that will still give the player the awesome gaming experience seems to me like a solid strategy. Keep focussing on the quality of the core and Momonga wil be fine.

    As a Paladin fan I will do everyting within my power to help making this awesome game a succes! Give me the signal… I’ll be ready! 🙂

    Good luck to you and the Paladin team.
    Go, go, go!

    René

  • Tom B
    Posted at 20:09h, 07 June Reply

    “I love deadlines… I love the wooshing sound they make as they fly by”

    -Douglas Adams

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