“Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”
The time just before launch is a tricky stage of any product’s development. This is the time when expectations and reality butt heads, when the demon of bad planning reveals itself and reminds you from its position on your sinistral shoulder that it’s been there all along. Immature organizations tend to respond to this inevitability by going into crunch mode, something I’ve experienced and would prefer to avoid. I now find myself with a long list of desiderata and not enough time to check them all off. So what can I do about it?
Cut, cut, cut. Is there a feature that isn’t absolutely essential to the product? Cut it. Is there a feature that can wait until after launch? Postpone it. If what’s left still won’t fit into the time remaining, then and only then should you think about adjusting your deadline.
Last time I talked about Facebook and Game Center integration. I spent a little time doing some research and decided that both are strong candidates for postponement until after launch, so I put them on the back burner. Meanwhile I plowed through a long laundry list of small bugs and tweaks (14 items since Friday) that I’d been putting off. And in the back of my mind I continued thinking about priorities.
The winner of the priority game is a set of final changes to the basic flow of the game. This has a few different parts:
- Currently each stage of difficulty is broken up into 3 or 4 waves. You play through the waves and get an aggregate score at the end. The first change will be to make these waves more meaningful by requiring that you do well enough on each wave before moving on to the next.
- Each wave has a fixed number of opportunities to make matches, which means there’s a hard limit to how high you can score. The plan is to add bonus match opportunities under certain conditions, which will lengthen gameplay when you’re playing well.
- Clearer messaging around the game structure, how you get a good score, and how you’re doing compared to previous attempts. This sounds vague, but I’ve made it explicit in my notes.
- Generate harder stages with a smooth difficulty curve for more advanced players.
This represents a lot of work, and I expect it will take all of this week and likely a day or two into the next. I’ll write another quick update on my progress later in the week. Ciao!
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