Tales of The List: How we deal with stray thoughts
As the Mort-A-Mania Open Beta draws to a close (only one month left!), our team has really started to focus on finalizing the game for a functional prototype. While we have constantly reminded ourselves that nothing is set in stone, and we can always change things we don't like, we are beginning to realize that there aren't a lot of things we don't like. These days, we get more compliments than criticisms at events --something I never thought I would experience-- and our playtesting times are filled with discussion about additional game modes, alternate rules, and other additional features; that is to say, adding things instead of fixing things.
All of this means we are approaching a shift in our duties, from game developers to game publishers. Our time in the future will be spent more on advertising, promotion, and logistics planning than on the actual creation of games. This is objectively a good thing, because it advances us toward Mort-A-Mania becoming a physical game in the hands of hundreds of people. The end game was always to have a game at the end.
But as game makers, we find it very difficult to stop developing. So much so, in fact, that we often have to stop ourselves from adding every little idea into Mort-A-Mania. As a result, we have now compiled a document with several pages of ideas that don't fit our current game; some of them are themes, others are singular mechanics, and a few are full-on game pitches (and at least one is a game that Mort-A-Mania used to be.)
As we move closer and closer to commercialization, this list will become even more important to us -- not because it is important for Mort-A-Mania, but because it isn't. If we are to protect our own creation from the horrors of feature creep, we must provide a release for all the other ideas and inspirations that come to mind, lest they infect our current game and drive it off course. By writing non-applicable ideas down in a safe place, we can assure our brains that they will be given full consideration at some point, and it is safe to return to the issue at hand.
In the future, we do intend to move forward with at least a few of the ideas kept therein, but that really isn't the point of the list. The greatest service provided by the document is to serve as a mental mini-storage unit, a place to put those boxes of ideas that might eventually be useful, but for now are just tripping hazards whenever we try to walk into the dark kitchen. Our idea-hoarding minds will never consent to throwing these non-sequitur strokes of genius out, so we make a deal and offer to box them up nice and drive them across town, right where we can find them if we need them. Until then, our mental work space is clean and tidy, and our minds are calm.