Rework meets Gamedev

Written by Klaus Kääriäinen


Another day, yet another blog post. Yesterday Petri opened up some feelings from our Gunnheim test session. This time I’m taking a little different approach and decided to think of startup company mindset. This idea came up to my mind while reading the (awesome) book called Rework. If you haven’t read the book yet, go and do it immediately! You wont regret.


The book was more written for every startup company out there, but in my opinion it felt like it was written for game developers. I’m going to pick couple of lines from the book and share my ideas from that how does it work with running a small game development studio.

"A business without path to profit isn't a business, it's a hobby."

Image from REWORK By Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

When people form up a game studio, the setup is pretty straight forward: “We are going to make games which we love playing and the crowd will find us eventually and we’ll make profit sooner or later.” or “We’re not making this for profit, we just want to make games”. Both comments are true, if you keep on doing stuff you love and do it well, people will come to you at some point. The bigger problem is that when will this “at some point” actually happens? Does it take a month, a year or maybe a decade? You’ll never know. Running a company needs money, running a company for a year or decade costs a lot of money. If you haven’t planned how your are going to “survive” the time before you start making profit, your entrepreneur road will most likely be pretty short.

When taking the leap to become an entrepreneur, make sure you have goals and realistic(ish) vision to actually make something ready and ship it. Even your most beloved game idea needs a budget and timeline which you have to follow.

Pushing deadlines.

Image from REWORK By Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

We’ve done this, a lot of studios have done this and most likely you will do it also. You feel like stuff needs polishing, redesign, recreate etc. When talking about game development, it’s a never ending circle unless you actually set deadlines and fit the features and other stuff within this deadline. If you don’t have the time to do all the stuff you want, the answer is not to extend your budget. The answer is to take stuff away from your project. Some of your darlings needs to be killed, it’s sad but true.


"It's the stuff you leave out that matters."

Image from REWORK By Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

The bigger problem is to know which parts needs to be taken away and which should stay. This is where skill and experience steps up. What is the main core of your game? What are the things which keep it from falling apart? Once you’ve figured those out, make those first and make people play it. Give it to the people who will actually use it and play it for the first time when it is shipped. The feedback you’ll get is the most precious to help you focus into right things in development. Like mentioned in my last blog post, remember that you are the last person to say is it good enough or not, you’ve become too blind to see the whole picture.