I’ve seen a few threads going around the game development community, debating the merits of a more open or closed communication style for a game development team.
If open, you can keep communication flowing and get early info out to fans… but you’re also subject to toxicity and harassment when you don’t deliver on some of your proposed features. (It doesn’t matter if only 5% of your players are crazy and 95% are great, that 5% will cause more than enough trouble to disrupt game dev and your peace of mind… especially if they resort to doxxing and threats.)
If closed, you’re much safer, as you’re never on the hook for promises made and broken. But then you seem cold and distant to the fans, and it’s hard to build hype to keep a game in development from being forgotten about. A cold and closed release is less likely to generate sales.
This got me to thinking about my own development process. Now, you guys know me. You know I lean hard on the spectrum of wanting a positive and clean Internet, to fight back against harassment and toxicity. You know I’ve got serious misgivings about aspects of the gaming community. So in regards to Arcade Spirits… how open do I want to be? How at risk? What happens when I get my first aggressive fan determined to ruin things over a perceived slight, or over disagreeing with my personal politics?
So, here’s the communication policy of Fiction Factory Games regarding Arcade Spirits (for now).
I think Arcade Spirits is a small enough game, a harmless enough game, that I don’t need to worry very much. It’s not dealing in huge social politics (unlike Floating Point) and so I feel relatively safe being open about it. It’s also a visual novel, so you know pretty much exactly what you’re getting — I can’t promise a feature and then pull it back because the shape of the game doesn’t lend itself to that. By the nature of the beast, we’re not likely to bungle that.
That’s not to belittle the struggles other devs are facing. And I know that even the most innocuous game can get a toxic following of detractors, absolutely. For all I know, there’s a lurking fog of acid waiting to pounce on my fun little game about chasing your dreams. A day may come where I need to batten down a few hatches, Crash Override style, and deal with that.
For now… I’m happy that the fans I’ve got have been infinitely supportive, and have walked with me every step of the way. I always say “if you’re reading this, you’re deep down the rabbit hole with me,” and it’s true. And I’m comforted by you being here with us all.