I just got back from the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS), a two day event similar to GDC. I thought the conferences were pretty uneven. Some speakers were very talented and their contribution very pertinent to the game industry. Others were just very boring 😉 There is one topic that struck me as important throughout all the presentations I went to, which I will call “instrumentation”.
Basically, a lot of people are saying that success (in all domains, technical to financial) is not something that you will get from the get go. And it’s not even something you will get with “just work”. You need to do the right kind of work. So, one of the most important thing to invest in is tools to measure, gauge and compare results. These will allow you to very precisely pinpoint problems and will reward you for experimenting with a lot of ideas and only keep the ones that work. This is true for optimization (profiling), but also marketing (Valve presented how the instant feedback that they can get from Steam can help them make good decisions really quickly).
So, some key ideas I take away are:
- Instrument your project. If you don’t know how much a given feature is costing, how much users are using it and how stable it is, you can’t make good decisions about it and prioritize correctly.
- Invest in tools. Good tools (especially for programming), adapted to your project/needs, can really save your butt down the line.
- Strive for quick iteration/instant feedback. There is no better improvement mechanism than quick feedback from users, as opposed to shipping a product, waiting for feedback, trying some corrections, delivering corrections in a later version (corrections which could or could not solve the user’s problems).
All in all, I appreciated the experience and I got to hear from some of the industry’s top minds (Valve, EA, Ubisoft, A2M, Beenox, Eidos).