War Angels Post-Mortem

By: Derek Yu

On: August 21st, 2007

war angels creativity vs. time graph

Hamish McLeod has a nice post-mortem for War Angels up on his blog. An entertaining and self-reflective article, and certainly anyone who has been on a project that’s spiraled out of control can empathize. I especially like the graph shown above! It’s a pretty accurate depiction of game development.

The only way I can make games is by adhering to my own creative vision. By taking in outside input and ‘adjusting’ my vision, the game suffered. By fixing the game in stone, on a schedule I created, and not letting it grow with myself, I had sealed the fate of my game.

I think where scheduling can be useful is in planning and executing a game project that can be finished before you get to the point where the red, blue, and green lines start diverging. Creativity is boundless, but time, resources, and skills are not. You have to manage that on a large-scale project. And, to a certain extent, I feel like a lack of satisfaction with one’s work goes hand-in-hand with being a creator. It’s what drives you, right?

Regardless, I hope that Hamish gets back into game development sometime in the near future. C’mon, man, you know you still got that itch!

  • Anthony Flack

    I know all about that ballistic programming. It all starts out harmless enough…

  • moody

    didnt he already post one of these whiny selfpitying rants when he cancelled the game?

  • Noyb

    The mention of coding in QBasic as a little kid brought back happy memories. =)

  • http://leakypig.neverlietofascists.com/ Raincoatduck

    Oh, I had no idea the game was even canceled. Too bad, but when development is that arduous it’s really not worth it.

    Whiny and self-pitying? He’s talking about how his game failed because he was stupid. That’s not really self-pitying.

  • Sergio

    Wha? Hamish has a blog? Why did no-one tell me…?

  • Dan MacDonald

    “My ‘money’ motivation came into existence shortly before I ‘joined’ Moonpod and would ultimately be the demise of the game.”

    I remember when I used to think people who made statements like this were noobs and didn’t really understand the true nature of the game business. That they really didn’t have what it took to be successful so they turned their nose up at sound business practices like “finding your target market” and “listening to your customers”.

    A few years later, and a some finished, but more unfinished projects. I have to say, the projects that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish were the ones where I was trying to make something for a market that didn’t include me. I don’t think it’s a lesson you can teach a developer though, they kind of have to learn it on their own. Sort of like source control, you don’t ever use it until you lose a crap load of work one day and curse yourself for being so stupid.

  • haowan

    Wise words.

  • PHeMoX

    Good blog and Dan MacDonald is right indeed. It’s hard to stay motivated if you as developer don’t want to play the game yourself.
    In my experience too much ‘money motivation’ will kill any project, people start to get lazy, deadlines are skipped and the whole game starts to become mediocre. I found it hard to stay motivated in such cases, really hard.

  • Hamish

    Self-pitying is when you take yourself too seriously and complain about how everything isn’t fair and blah blah. If you can make fun of yourself and admit you’re human and make stupid mistakes it’s more like self-respect.

  • http://josephkingworks.blogspot.com Joseph


  • PHeMoX

    @Hamish (assuming you’re really the guy ;) ): you’re right, but I’ve yet to meet a single soul who hasn’t experienced a failure at some point in his life before becoming successful. Although theoretically possible, nobody makes a perfect game on his first, second or third try … or ever for that matter.
    From what I’ve seen from your game the production values looked pretty good actually, but yeah, if the programming is like a soaked sponge it become problematic I guess. :)

    Anyways, hope you get into game developing again!

  • Bernie

    Hey, you could always join FAInd again.

    Other than that, good luck with whatever you’re going to do.

  • http://www.daintyrhino.com Dave Cobb

    I was totally up on War Angels. Looked really cool. I totally understand how development got out of hand, though. If I had a nickel for every game project left incomplete for similar reasons…I probably wouldn’t have to actually finish any games.

    Good thing I don’t have those nickels.