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Life After Launch, Part 1: Maintenance Considerations for Your Educational Video Game

Filament Games | Educational Game Developer

If this isn’t your first rodeo contracting with a vendor for software development, you know that one of the “gotchas” software vendors sometimes leave out of their quotes is the cost to maintain your software after launch. Software and technology are constantly evolving (a good thing!), which means the software made today might break in the future when the underlying software or technology evolves (a bummer thing!).

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At Filament, the educational game we make for you is yours.  When it’s done, we hand over the compiled code and the non-compiled code, and you can do with it what you will. If a maintenance issue develops in the future and you have an engineer on your team, they are welcome to jump into the code to apply the fix. However, if you would prefer to use our help, we are here for you!

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When we make an educational game for you for browser, tablet, mobile phone, virtual reality, or augmented reality, we generally develop it to support the current version of the browser (or operating system or VR platform, etc.) and two versions back. At the cadence that technology companies put out updates, your game should be stable for about two years at a minimum. No promises, but that’s what we’ve generally seen.

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Today, I thought I’d walk you through things you should consider when hiring a studio to make your educational video game when it comes to long-term maintenance:

  1. Assess your player’s needs and the criticality of your educational game. Like most things in life, there is a budget version of maintenance and a Rolls Royce version of maintenance so you will have to make some choices. If the educational game you have made is critical (for instance, a game that is used daily for critical training that is time-sensitive) you will need to consider a maintenance approach that resolves critical issues quickly. Alternatively, if you can be flexible when your game gets fixed, you can choose a more flexible maintenance plan. 
  1. Think about your backup plan. First things first, do you have a backup plan? If your educational game doesn’t work one morning because Edge updated overnight, do your players have access to a different browser like Chrome where they might not run into the same problem? Is there a non-digital version of the training that you can offer if the same thing happens? If you have options, then you can choose a maintenance plan that has more flexibility. If you don’t, you’ll need a maintenance plan that is very responsive (and therefore likely more expensive). 
  1. Consider your organization’s policies regarding contracted software and maintenance. Sometimes we work with itty bitty non-profits and start-ups, and sometimes we work with Fortune 500 companies. In our experience, the bigger the organization, the more likely your company’s IT department has policies about contracting vendors to develop custom software and require that you include a maintenance plan to address critical issues as they arrive. If you are not sure, ask your IT Department or your CTO if your organization has such a policy and if so, find out the parameters of the maintenance plan they require.
  1. Consider your budget. In a perfect world, we fix maintenance issues as soon as they occur. We can indeed sell you that perfect world if you like, but it’s not going to be cheap. In general, maintenance plans are structured so that drop-everything-now-and-fix-this-issue-immediately is more expensive while allowing for flexibility when the issue is corrected is less expensive. We can also weave in the impact and severity of the issue for consideration, meaning we provide a plan that prioritizes issues with high impact and severity over other issues.

Once you’ve had a chance to think about all of these considerations for maintaining your educational video game, come over to Part 2 (coming next week!) where I will discuss some options!

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