Developer Retrospective: Positech Games

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posted 3/22/2012 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
Platforms: Multiple
 A retrospective is an agile development term for a team meeting at the end of a development cycle where the team determines what things were done well, what things could have been better, and what things they were going to try to do better in the next cycle. It's a great way for teams to celebrate what they did correctly and identify the things that they need to improve on. 

Given the state of flux that the video game industry is in right now I thought it would be an interesting idea to do several small retrospective with folks from around the industry with the end goal is to develop a holistic view of the state of the video game.

The format is fairly simple. We've asked each company the same four questions about what they did great last year, what they could have done better, and what they plan to do in the coming year. We then asked them how they thought the entire industry answered those questions. To keep things interesting we also asked a few company specific questions too.

We've got a nice variety of opinions ranging from game developers to publishers to hardware manufactures and everyone in between. This is one of the more ambitious projects we've ever done and we think you'll enjoy seeing the wide spectrum of opinions on the industry. You can see our previous retrospectives here.   

Today we are talking to Cliff Harris, the one man show behind Postech games.  I don't think you can get any more indie than Positech and we're glad he could find time to answer our questions.

Looking back at the last year what were the things that Positech did right? What things could you have done better?

Best thing was starting Gratuitous Tank Battles, and taking the time to play about with the design until we were sure it was the *right* way to do it, rather than just re-skinning our last game and assuming it would work. In terms of what we could have done better, I'd say we could have got more involved in the Gratuitous Space Battles modding scene. There just was not enough time to devote to encouraging that as much as it deserved.

What do you think went well for the game industry in 2011? What do you think the industry could have done better in 2011?
I think the fact that the games industry survived the recession without any major catastrophic failures is quite an achievement. It's also taken slow but irreversible steps towards public acceptance of gaming as a legitimate past-time and industry. In terms of what could be done better, I think there has been a real failure to address the problems of manipulative games business models, like some of the facebook friend-spamming and tricking and cajoling people into paying a constant stream of money like rats in a cage. The next big gaming scandal will be related to the way games companies use psychologists to manipulate their players into addiction.


Looking ahead, what are you most excited about for Positech  in 2012? What’s the one thing you’re planning on doing now that you weren’t doing in 2011?
I'm planning on actually having a proper holiday and winding down slightly. I really need to do that, because I've been charging around like a hamster in a cage working on project after project, and it's not good for me!

What are you looking forward to most in 2012 from an industry standpoint? What should the industry do better in 2012?
The kickstarter thing is interesting, and I'm fascinated to see how it turns out. There are also a lot of big name indie developers making enough money to finance other games by smaller devs (I'm doing this too, with Redshirt), and it's interesting to see how that turns out in the long run. In terms of doing things better, I think the industry needs to find a way to lose the obsession with bundles and pricing. When people talk about movies, the topic of movie prices never even comes up, but at least 50% of the discussion around any game relates to where to get it cheapest or whether it's worth that much. That's a bargain bin mentality that will not lead to good games.


What’s the bigger struggle right now for you, getting your game noticed or people pirating your software?
Getting noticed. Especially now that a lot of the casual piracy sites are being taken down. If someone is willing to run some dodgy exe file from some obscure russian site, they probably had their bank balance raided by hackers ages ago, so they don't have money for my games anyway :D




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