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Best of British: Your 8-point plan to joining the Game Developer Failure Association (GDFA)

Best of British: Your 8-point plan to joining the Game Developer Failure Association (GDFA)

Allan Rowntree is an experienced programmer who has worked for big blue chip IT companies in the past, but is currently pursuing his dream of making games with Unity.

Most recently he has been lost in virtual reality thanks to the arrival of a Rift Development Kit and is busy working on a 3D space game code named Space Wars.
Fancy being officially branded as a failure? Want to join the club where the industry's biggest flops all gather together?

Having been working – and failing – as a game developer for seven years now, I think I'm qualified to set you on the right path to going about things in entirely the wrong way.



Yes, in a matter of months, you could find yourself eligible to join the Game Developer Failure Association, or GDFA for short.The GDFA logo naturally fails when it comes to being memorableBut what's in it for you? Official GDFA members benefit from a simple eight-point programme that details just how they can fail faster and harder than any of their peers.

1. Mismanage your time

There are 24 hours in a day. Developers tend to spend half of those sleeping, four hours living, and six hours messing about. That leaves them with a maximum of two hours for potential development.

That's right, if you're not careful you could still have two productive hours in your day.

Thankfully there are a number of skills that can help you here.

Tip one – make sure you master the art of procrastinating – they'll be more on that later. Also, a fear of failure is also a great way to block you from starting or completing a project.

If you never launch that game you're working on, then you'll never have to worry about whether it's any good or not.

What's more, deadlines should be avoided as they prevent projects from becoming a never-ending slog. Try never to finish any project – opt to have multple projects running concurrently, instead. And, perhaps most important, avoid speed and efficiency at all costs.

2. Low quality

Beware. While you may consider yourself a talentless fool, there's a chance that you'll start to learn how to do your job better while working on those multiple failing projects.

This will start to become an issue if it beings to improve both the quality of your work and the efficiency at which you deliver it.

Perfectionism is your friend here: constantly tell yourself that your work is just not good enough. Try playing a triple-A release or watching a blockbuster movie – anything that helps inflate any feeling of inadequacy you have.

3. Bad teams

If the worst comes to the worst and you find yourself turning into a talented developer, there is another option to help drag your projects down – join a team to help hold yourself back.

When creating the ideal team for failure, the key areas to work on are disharmony, bad group dynamics and mismatched allocation of tasks to skills.

Remember that, when building a team that, they work best with smaller highly skilled groups with a well designed and managed project that is iterative and rewarding to work on.

So the GDFA recommends large team sizes, with no minimum entry requirements, management heavy, ideally staffed by those with little to no interpersonal skills.

4. Planning for failure

As everyone knows, to fail to plan is to plan to fail, but we at the GDFA can do better.

The IT industry, with its oversized government contracts, has given us an ideal template for game development failure planning.

The waterfall model where the whole project is pre-planned, estimated and budgeted for up front. It has none of the iterative or creative cycles that allow game developers to find and enhance the fun in their games.

Add a high level of feature creep due to feedback and vague but over-specified bad design and you have a project designed to overrun and become a failure.

5. Do not share the failure

To help prevent others learning about what does not work or to grow and improve your own understanding of the game development process, we ask that you do not share your failures with any other developers.

6. Negative feedback

Feedback can either be a curse or a gift for a GDFA project.

On the one hand, it can lead to endless feature creep that adds nothing to the game. On the other, it can lead to a fun and playable title that people actually enjoy.

Therefore, all feedback must be given the highest priority and viewed as a feature request to be given priority over all other tasks, regardless of scope and impact. Divergent requests allow you to branch the project in multiple directions at the same time.

7. Don't tell anyone

It is imperative that, if you must release a game, you release it without fanfare.

Ideally, push it on it's own website without any Search Engine Optimisation and with a very hard to navigate user interface, so hardly anyone gets to play it.

Thankfully, most of the app stores have removed the 'new' category, so even releasing on a major OS like Android or iOS should allow you to launch with complete obscurity guaranteed.

8. Not invented here

There are some amazing game development engines and frameworks that can help you get started in game development, but they will only entice you down the path of creativity and fun.

Ideally you should aim to use the most obtuse technology you possibly can - raw assembly language or binary are ideal.

You need to develop the 'Not Invented Here' mindset, where no code, artwork, textures, fonts, sound, music, tools, editors, applications, operating systems should be allowed on the project without being created by the most poorly skilled member of the team.

The GDFA hope these guidelines help you achieve the failure you desire and deserve, setting you on the path to lifetime membership. We wish you the longest and most successful of futures in your career as a game development failure.

Generous people who've shared their wisdom with Pocket Gamer

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Chris Pixel Designer at Pixels From Space
Good points, a couple made me wince as a small indie dev. More interested in the Space Wars bit though!
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