It’s not often that you get to follow the process of creating a game, or even have an effect on the final product. Denmark’s own Betadwarf believes in transparency in the development process, and have therefore made their entire work process open to the public.
NordicGameBits had a word with Betadwarf’s CEO Steffen Kabbelgaard Grønning and Producer Frederik Denning, about their approach to open development. The team were internally experimenting with a highly transparent company culture, when they saw the potential for increasing the external transparency as well. The new initiative can on Steam forums and on their Trello board, where you can follow the development of Forced 2, the studio’s new upcoming game.
Considering that Betadwarf’s beta community was on a manageable scale in terms of feedback and man-hours, it made perfect sense to go even further. As for response and feedback on the new initiative, it hasn’t been open long enough for more than curious and interesting observations and comments to appear so far.
Other studios have also experimented with opening up their development processes to the public, but oftentimes the studios only go so far as t enable a voting contest for new features in the game. “Ours is different, it’s a more realistic view on our day-2-day development, and people can see a lot of stuff getting done during a single day, which I think is pretty unique. However, whether it’s exciting or not, time will tell :)“, CEO Steffen Kabbelgaard Grønning says to Nordic Game Bits.
“Today, people are developing games in a million different ways. Our approach is very hands-on in the sense that we don’t talk about something, we just do it and see how it works.” –
One of the outcomes that Betadwarf is going for with the new initiative is that their beta testers can have vivid insights in the making of the game, the allocation of resources, and the general feel of creating such a game. Followed by responding to everything in their forums, and gathering valued feedback, the team then considers all the feedback and how it fits with their own ideas.
“In general we respond to everything in the forums, and value user feedback very highly, both regarding gameplay elements, but also in regards to helping us fix bugs and making the game more user friendly. On a longer term, we hope that this will strengthen our relationship with our community. Since having an active community is an amazing privilege, we are hoping that opening up our day-to-day workflow will incentivize people to keep interacting with us. We also feel that this is a way through which we will be able to give something back to the community, outside of making awesome games.”, Says Betadwarf Producer, Frederik Denning.
Having an open development process means that public eyes are watching, and then soon followed by keyboards clacking. However, according to Frederik Denning, the feedback and suggestions they receive from the Steam forums and Trello board will be kept separate from the actual planning. The idea is that people are encouraged to share their thoughts and criticisms, which will then be evaluated, and taken into consideration during the development of the final product.
“The direct input from the users on the Trello board comes in form of votes. So right now, if a lot of users think that a feature currently prioritized in our “nice to have” section is great and votes on it, we will be able to take that feedback and use it to prioritize that specific feature higher if we have the resources. Getting feedback from users is extremely important when making games, so at the current time we don’t have any concerns about getting too much of it. Again: Having an active community is something we consider a huge privilege, and we value the feedback from our users very highly, because in the end they know what they want from a fun game. “, according to Producer Frederik Denning.
The game business is deep down like any other, the tools of trades might be different from other industries, the philosophy and ideology behind it might be different too, but like every business, the games business has to evolve.
When something stays dormant for too long it becomes still, forgotten, and worst of all, outdated. At a certain point, even if something is near perfection, we will inevitably want something else or better, and if the supplier of our entertainment fails to follow the times, we simply find another supplier. That’s why Betadwarf wants to engage its audience on a human level, where everyone can be enlightened or even inspired.
Another of Betadwarf’s goals for the initiative is to let developers and gamers on any level of experience have an insight into how the day-to-day machinery of an indie developer goes. They hope that future developers take note of their successes and mistakes, because in the game industry, experience is a crucial, if not necessary.
“An amazing thing about the game development scene today is that so many people have great ideas, and want to know more about how to make games. 10 years ago, game development was largely centered around a set of huge companies, following waterfall development structures with unbelievable amounts of documentation. This is also why we hope that our development can be interesting to follow from the outside. Rather than having a huge 2-year plan, we work in very small iterations, which is also what allows us to constantly adapt to the feedback we get.”, Frederik Denning explains.
“An advice for aspiring game developers is to read about and follow the companies you think are inspiring and try to think about what they are doing right. The most important thing of course is just to start making games. No one succeeds in their first try, and you have to get your hands dirty before learning exactly type of workflow suits you and your team best.” – Concludes Frederik Denning