This is a subject I know a lot about.
Some people are editors by profession: I’m an editor by calling. Want proof? I have a t-shirt with an Apostrophe Protection Society logo on it. I have a grammar blog. I have *strong* opinions on the omission of the possessive ‘s’ after the possessive apostrophe at the end of singular words ending in ‘s’.
But I’m also a writer, and if I’ve learned one thing in all my years in this business it’s that I can judge anything except my own work. However many times I read it through, I’m almost certain to spot a missing or repeated word when I come back to it two weeks later. And that’s if I’m lucky. In the worst case scenario I might end up realising that every word of what I wrote was garbage.
The same is true of any creative work, whether writing, film-making, or game development. The person who makes a thing is the person least qualified to give it proper scrutiny and get it into the best possible shape.
1. YOU know what you meant.
Your eye only takes in a certain amount of information. Much of the other stuff that you can see in your peripheral vision is supplied by your brain, which fills in the gaps by drawing on what it knows about the world, and can therefore lead you astray.
Judging your own work is like trying to see with your peripheral vision. Because you know how that bit of your game is supposed to flow, or what that line of text is supposed to be getting across, your brain will tell you everything is fine even when it’s not. You’re looking at the model in your head and not the real thing. It’s unavoidable.
2. You’re lazy.
You might think you’re not lazy, but you are, and it’s not your fault. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re functioning properly as an animal by conserving energy.
But it means that when you scrutinise what you’ve made – your game, your marketing materials, etc – there’s a devil on your shoulder whispering into your ear at a frequency that bypasses your eardrums and goes straight to your reptilian hindbrain.
You don’t know he’s there, but he is, and he’s saying, “We’re good, this is all fine, relax, move on to the next thing.”
3. You’re too damn good.
When you make a game, you play it. Over and over. You know where the power-ups are because you put them there. You know how to make the jump because you’ve done it a million times. You know the boss’s attack pattern because you designed it.
Unfortunately, being incredible at your game makes you terrible at evaluating it. Things that are obvious to you may seem completely bewildering to an average player, and sequences that you can rattle through in five minutes might make players’ heads explode with frustration and rage.