Friday, September 25, 2009

Overlord II and franchises

Just finished playing Overlord 2 on Xbox 360, and very enjoyable it was. The first version felt a bit rough round the edges and I didn't complete it. I played that on PC. I seem to remember getting a bit lost in parts of the game, especially after you return to it after not having played it for a while.

After playing the first version on PC I thought the 360 version would be really difficult to control without the mouse and keyboard, but it works really well. The difficultly level was about right for me. I'm more of a take-it-or-leave-it casual gamer, than a hardcore gamer; no time! So impossible bosses and engrossing 4 hour games get played rarely. Overlord 2 felt a little easy to stroll through, but I enjoyed the journey and if it had been more difficult I don't think the control mechanism would have coped that well.

This version has more help with the mission structure and generally feels a lot more polished. It's interesting terms of development because it seems this is what you have to do now to release a relatively big game now, especially as an indie developer, due to the enormous costs involved. You really need to build a franchise to cover any loans or expansion costs, and to reduce future risk, providing the game sells.

It's very easy for game developers (or anyone writing software for that matter) or aim too high on version 1.0 and not deliver. Estimating costs and complexity are complicated matters with large cumulative margins of error. If you develop in an agile manner you should be able to provide something and increment. If you come out with some interesting USP you can afford to release first version that's a bit rough, but in a crowded market this is very high risk.