Benefits of a ridiculously early release

Yesterday I uploaded the first version of the ship-building tool for public download. Even though I totally 100% expected no-one to download it, one person did! So thank you mystery visitor!

Though it might seem odd or even counter-productive to release such rudimentary software this early, it actually has several very useful benefits for me as a developer:

  1. Probably most importantly, it’s good for me to just get it out there. I’ve always had a fear of releasing things that aren’t perfect. Give me a year-long release deadline and I’ll be the guy up on December 31st at 11:45pm trying to squeeze in those last minute adjustments. The awesome thing about overcoming this fear is that later releases can only get better.
    Even if people who download early builds have the understandable reaction of “Jesus this is terrible, who does this guy think he’s fooling?”, at least I’ve faced that criticism and know where I stand, and later builds will have taken that feedback into account and hopefully improved on it.

  2. When more people are prepared to DL the game (after a certain amount of functionality is assured) it’ll give me helpful feedback on direction. A big fear of mine is spending a lot of time creating something people aren’t interested in, so releasing early lets me know where I’m going right/wrong.

  3. It helps me know what kinds of descriptions, screenshots, etc… draw the most interest, so by the time I get round to having a more complete game I’ll better know how to capture potential player’s interest.

  4. It helps me iron out any problems with the site, links, and downloading – with gradually increasing numbers (fingers crossed).

Now it’s just a case of improving the game, getting any small but valuable nuggets of feedback where I can, and improving things till larger volumes of people begin to download.

But yeah, shout out that first brave soul who DL’d Starship Explorers V001! You’ll always have a special place in this game’s history.