One of the questions that came up during our Kickstarter campaign was whether it was wise to release “sneak peeks” of our game under development, whether that would, in fact, discourage people from backing us because it was less than perfect.
My answer was that I believe there are several reasons for releasing beta, and even alpha, versions of your software.
- Many people who back crowd-funding campaigns understand software development and that products are built in iterations, from sucks to sucks less to okay to AMAZING. They are either interested in seeing the progress or willing to believe that we will eventually reach amazing.
- For those unfamiliar with software development, I think we can provide some insight. Too many people are held back from their goals because they don’t believe they are smart enough, educated enough, whatever-enough. They only see the finished product from others and they compare their own first drafts to that. It’s beneficial to see how products develop.
- Criticism is good. Software is complex and we are never going to be able to test every combination of game possibilities in every browser in every operating system. The sooner someone points out a bug to us, the quicker we can fix it.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by how things worked. When I was a young industrial engineer, I would pester machinists who worked in different parts of the factory to explain to me what they were doing, how their machines worked. It didn’t matter whether I was assigned to that particular department or not, I was curious how all of those thousands of parts each got made, and how they came together to be an airplane or a cruise missile from what came into the factory as a sheet of metal. Over thirty years later, I still remember the names of those people – Lloyd, Barney, Mary Ann, Steve – who were kind enough to take a day or so and explain to me patiently how a CNC machine, inventory control system or forecasting program worked.
I hope we provide some of that fascination for our backers.
As for the naysayers, the people who won’t support us because our first drafts are less than perfect – they would have found some other reason to support us if our software was perfect right out of the gate. Our documentation isn’t perfect, or we didn’t answer their inquiry within an hour, or something.
Done is better than perfect.
This is a whole post in itself. In short, many projects never see the light of day because their creators are so concerned about criticism that they are fixing one more bug, editing one more graphic, until they run out of money or die. It’s better to get not being perfect out of the way right at the beginning so you can get to work on getting better and better.