“Going from concept to production in one jump” is why concepts fail, says Harrison

Thursday, 23rd October 2008 10:49 GMT By Mike


Whilst talking about Unity middleware platfrom in Copenhagen, Atari exec Phil Harrison has said that the reason many games fail is due to going from “concept to production in one jump.”

“Here is my EUR 10 million gift to this room — all of the mistakes I have made in software development have been based around one problem and one problem alone, which is accelerating through this pipeline without successfully and properly satisfying the requirements of each of the stages – and typically it involves going from concept to production in one jump,” said Harrison.

“That’s pretty much the definition of why projects fail — because you don’t know what you’re building, you don’t know how you’re going to build it, you don’t know who you’re building it for, but you’ve got 60 people working on it and they’ve all running in different directions — that’s how most games fail.”

Thanks, Kotaku.



  1. Quiiick

    And this took you how long to find out, Phil? 20 years.

    Hint: the problem exists in almost any other [creative] industry!

    #1 6 years ago

    Unless you’re just doing a yearly update (FIFA/Madden/etc), in which case failures are usually due to all round bad decision making.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Shatner

    Hahaha. Oh look. Everyone suddenly knows this and acts like it’s common knowledge now that someone else has mentioned it.

    Phew! Good job no other companies except the ones Phil Harrison ever worked at produced a bad product eh?

    #3 6 years ago
  4. CastellanSpandrell

    Yes it’s a blindingly obvious statement but the majority of companies fail to take any notice whatsoever. They prefer to skip over the ‘boring’ bit that consists of picking the concept apart and determining how it should work and dive straight into making it.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. Shatner

    Really? The majority you say? Are you sure about that? Have you observed the production process of the ‘majority’ of games?

    And the ‘boring’ bit – I’d say that’s one of the most fun bits. There’s far more boring bits that come later on in a project. MMMMMM.. TRCs!

    #5 6 years ago

    Surely TRC’s should be nailed down at the beginning of the project!

    #6 6 years ago
  7. CastellanSpandrell

    Yes, the majority. I’ve worked for several developers and met hundreds of people that work in development world-wide. The main complaint is that they’re forced go from concept straight to production.
    TRC’s are not the most exciting aspect but they predictable and can be dealt with in a controlled, repeatable manner.
    Yes, taking a vague idea and running with it as an artist or coder is very exciting but usually ends up with someone saying “but that’s not what I wanted”.

    #7 6 years ago


    Don’t blame the artists!

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Shatner

    G1G, the length of projects these days – you can see TRCs revised quite a few times. It’s very very exciting stuff.

    Spandrell, ah, I though you were referring to “majority” as industry-wide (which seemed completely unbelievable) rather than your own, personal, experience.

    Due dilligence, compared to the rest of a next-gen project, is pretty interesting as far as I’m concerned.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. Quiiick

    @ Shatner
    Hmm, it IS common knowledge!
    But, these kind of things rarely cross your mind when your in your thirties or early forties. You tend to just release all the energy and commitment you got into a project. I was the same at this age! ;)

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Psychotext

    Yeah, this one is pretty common anywhere software is involved. It doesn’t stop it happening though. Was allegedly one of the things proper software engineering / project management practices were supposed to stop… yeah, right.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. CastellanSpandrell

    “Was allegedly one of the things proper software engineering / project management practices were supposed to stop… yeah, right.”

    Proper practices would stop this happening but as i said not many people are interested in actually adopting these practices. Sure plenty of companies say they have but when you look into it they don’t.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. Psychotext

    That’s pretty much what I mean. They’re paid nothing more than lip service.

    #13 6 years ago

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