Shipping Beats Perfection

If you’re passionate about your work you can probably relate to this – it’s hard to finish. There’s always more to do, something you could improve.

But it’s crucial to build a habit of getting things done. Better doing it than doing it right. The other day I saw someone out jogging with his hands in the pockets. He looked like a fucking moron. But he was doing it – he was running!

Fairly often I hear people look at other people’s work and say “it’s not that good” or “I could’ve done that”. And they could! But most of the time they didn’t. I constantly see companies ship out successful products where the individual parts aren’t that impressive on their own. But they focus on the bigger picture and have successfully identified what people actually value.

Most of the great ideas we come up with haven’t been proven wrong yet. They are safely protected from reality. New code seems sexier than old code, but it doesn’t meet all the requirements yet. A soundtrack can sound amazing in isolation, but when put in the game with all the other sound effects it turns into a muddy mess and ends up being thrown away.

There’s also the fear of showing things to people in its current state because you know you can do better. But if you polish a piece of shit really really well it’ll still stink. It’s still a piece of shit. The quicker you discover that the better.

Take an example from Neuston’s game Drone Hero: I put an early version in people’s hands and the steering turned out to be complete shit. It was painful to watch, people were flying into walls and could barely lift off from the ground. The knee-jerk reaction was “these idiots can’t fly”, but after I had let it sink in I realized that I had put a piece of shit in people’s hands. That’s really uncool. After a lot of experimentation and user tests the steering turned out great. Now people love it!

Build, measure, learn. Most people spend their time building, but it’s equally important to dedicate time to measure and learn. What did you set out to do, how did you approach it, and what was the end result? It’s this retrospection that makes us grow.