Double Fine turns an accidental unfinished game release into a beta test
"If people find bugs that we haven't found internally, I'd love to know about them."
Last week Double Fine accidentally released an unfinished version of its upcoming iOS management sim Middle Manager of Justice on the app-store in every territory. Whoops!
The game has since been pulled, but the its project lead Kee Chi explained in an interview with Gamasutra that this was something of a happy accident as "it kind of just turned into a beta test."
"If people find bugs that we haven't found internally, I'd love to know about them so I can fix them," he explained. "If anything, I welcome these suggestions from people, because we're still learning and we plan to work on this well after it goes live to make the game deeper, and luckily this means we'll get an early start on that process."
Initially Chi wasn't so thrilled about the development which he admitted "was totally my fault."
"With the way you submit things on the App Store, you have to specify what the release date is, and a while back we had set the date to September, but at the time we didn't know if that would be final or not," he explained. "Once we submitted the game, we realised we had a lot of things we still needed to tweak and fix, but at the same time, we didn't want to remove it from the [submission] process in case Apple catches other things we need to take care of, and we didn't want to do a double submission."
Double Fine didn't realise the tentative September release was still in effect. This is its first mobile game, after all.
"It wasn't what I wanted the world to see quite yet," Chi lamented. "At Double Fine, we pride ourselves on putting a solid product out there, so having something out there that was buggy and not quite ready yet was really frustrating."
This notion of working with the community to improve the game is in keeping with Double Fine CEO and founder Tim Schafer's new-found philosophy that "it doesn't hurt to be open" that he detailed in a recent Eurogamer interview about free-to-play models and working with the community. "Let people see how it progresses over time, so they feel the way we feel about the game. So they're really attached to them."
Middle Manager of Justice will be released again - on purpose this time - in the next few weeks.