Failure and pivoting towards success
Developers at Casual Connect talk about learning from failure
At the IGDA Summit at the Casual Connect conference, social and mobile developers came together to talk about learning from failures and pivoting towards success. The panel was attended by Spry Fox CEO David Edery, Harebrained Schemes CEO Jordan Weisman, Harebrained Schemes studio manager Mitch Gitelman, Uber Entertainment CTO Jon Mavor, and Z2Live COO Lou Fasulo. Edery kicked off the panel by explaining that prior to launch isn't the only time to fix issues.
"With games as a service, you can have multiple launch points where you can fix things," Edery said. Edery said that it's smart to kill projects that aren't working, but that can be difficult if the project has advocates or if your artists have already created great art for it. Weisman agreed letting projects go on too long was a horrible idea and added that knowing when to let key people go is important as well.
"Sometimes I try too hard to hold on to talent, and I change everything to suit them," he said. "It undermines the rest of the culture of the company."
"The major takeaway is you have to expunge the team of negative influences. Positive energy expands; negative energy contracts. You have to rip out cancers on your team, regardless of how much it hurts you," Gitelman added.
Mavor said that teams have to be flexible in case their initial titles fail. Z2Live's Fasulo admitted that his team pivoted from Xbox Live games to iOS titles.
Weisman and Gitelman related past failures in their careers, including Gitelman's time on the failed Xbox 360 version of Shadowrun (Gitelman pictured above). The failure was a public one and Gitelman took it rather hard. Weisman said large, public failures can be emotionally harder, while smaller failures are financially difficult. Both gentlemen are currently working on the Kickstarter-driven Shadowrun Returns.
Edery explained that the feeling of success can be fleeting, but it's important to celebrate every success.
"Any elation I've ever had lasts for a matter of hours," Edery said.