In 2010 I went to my business partner’s house and gathered around the dinner table to crunch over the weekend because we had learned that we would be a launch title for the original iPad. My partner had to be on a plane to Cupertino to test the app on the device in about 72 hours; we had to get it done, and we did. About six weeks ago, we found out that we would get one of the few developer kits from Apple for the new tvOS. With a blurry deadline we committed right then to develop and release a game for tvOS; come hell or high water it was going to happen. The only problem was, this game wasn’t going to be developed in a vacuum; we had our regular projects and clients that we had to continue to serve. We gathered the team and informed them of the opportunity and the idea, and asked for volunteers; it was going to be a nights-and-weekends, run-and-gun effort.
What we had on our side was a team of dependable programmers, designers and artists who are 100% committed to what they do. We also inhabit a unique environment in Durham, North Carolina called The American Underground. The AU allows entrepreneurs and developers like us to pivot to meet challenges without the worry of how deeply it’s going to effect us six to twelve months down the road.
Here are six things that we did to make Couch Heroes vs The Dungeon happen.
1. Determine A Minimum Viable Product
How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. Our list of must-haves for the game was limited, to say the least. When the first SCRUM was done we had three things on the whiteboard. A minimum set of features makes the goal achievable.
2. Make It Playable
From the beginning we knew, that to hit our deadline the game would have to be playable from start to finish. We created all the screens, rudimentary level art and characters, effects, and game play in the first week.
3. Write Tickets
We wrote tickets for every detail, idea, and task in the project so we didn’t lose track of who was doing what or any “nice-to-have” features that popped into our heads.
4. Iterate, Polish and Cut
Cutting features can be painful, but it can be very satisfying. Trimming the fat and polishing constantly creates a streamlined experience for players and each tweak improves the game holistically. And, the good ideas naturally rise to the top. Once the game was playable from end to end, we iterated, tweaked and polished.
5. Fail Early and Often
Don’t be afraid to try something and don’t take it hard if it doesn’t work. Rapid iteration allows you to find out what works and what doesn’t.
6. Count On Your Team
At Third Track, we have always adhered to the philosophy that we are all adults, we can figure out what needs to be done, and we can make it happen.
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