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Subject: Nations Dev 9: Development cycle rss

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Rustan Håkansson
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Norrköping
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We have been working on Nations for over 5 years, in roughly yearly cycles. Each cycle contained a couple of phases:

1 major changes
2 stabilization
3 tuning

The length of the phases varied, but it was quite clear to us what phase we were in.

During the major changes phase we experimented. First by discussing and debating the idea, and then by testing. Sometimes we all agreed that an idea was worth testing, but many times the person who wanted to test something had to make the changes neccessary so it could be tested.

In the stabilization phase the major changes that did not work needed to be weeded out, many times with a lot of groaning from the person who was its main supporter. Many ideas were put into the "possible expansion" category, they were easier to let go from the main branch of development then.

When the game was well tuned within the current set of constraints we started to consider how the constraints could be changed. What was the best parts, what was the worst parts? What did we want to put more focus on, what was missing, what was detracting. And when someone came up with a big enough idea, the next cycle started. Every time this was a very tough decision to take, as we had spent so much effort on tuning, and knew it would be needed again.

Now we feel very happy we took our time, as the game has improved a lot in every cycle. We have gone through lots of potential major changes, but none have seemed likely to improve the game. The tuning has gone a lot further than normal. We are starting to feel the game is really ready now, and hope that many others will have as much fun playing it as we have had and are still having.

Nations designer diary index (complete, 40 entries)
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