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Rules for Game Development Part 1

I recently took to Twitter to post some snippets from the +Trese Brothers playbook about game development and several people on the network liked the posts enough to Favorite them.

Rule #1 : Play the games you make, for there is no better source of inspiration, ideas and connections to your customers.

This rule is a restatement of a common business adage I've heard from mentors many times -- "eat your own dog food" or "if you don't love your product, no one will."

I are certainly not saying that we try to play our games exclusively (my rule is 50% my games, 50% other indie developers) but we have found that to really own them, to improve them constantly, we have to play them.

This is our first rule because it is how we started +Trese Brothers. The first game we created, +Star Traders RPG, was not originally designed for other people to play -- it was designed as a way for Andrew and I to compete in a game on our new Android phones. The first several versions were distributed by e-mail between Andrew and I and the two of us were the players.

Andrew and I have continued weekly Star Traders competitions. Those play sessions continue to generate some of the best bug fixes, game play enhancements and new game ideas the project has had.

Rule #2 : Treat the gamers who play your game as you would want to be treated. Your game's goal is to turn customers into friends.

This rule is a restatement of a common adage called the "golden rule" in the area where we grew up. When we are considering a feature, an in-app purchase or a change to a game we think about sitting down with our players around a kitchen table.

This is our guideline and compass for the things we add to our games and the partners we chose. Could you explain your choices to your best friend?

Rule #3 : Never give up on a game that is fun to play and treats gamers as you would want to be treated. Update it and fight hard.

This rule is near and dear to us, and to the people who play our games. When we first released Star Traders RPG it was a rough cut of a game created for two people to play. Three years and 400 updates later, it has a 4.75 out of 5.00 rating with 8,000 reviews. There were ups and downs through the years, and times when we thought the game was going to be forgotten, taken off the market, or otherwise fail.

During the first year the game was on the market, we played Star Traders constantly, sometimes for hours a day. The richest source of ideas for improvement of the game we found was our own obsessive playing.


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