Everyone who has spent more than a day in this community knows: PixelTail are transparent as fuck. I can seriously not think of anything I could remotely criticise about how open their development process is. If it was a house, it’d be made out of glass with tainted windows for bath- and bedrooms. The only thing left to open would be their internal nonpublic stuff but next to hiding secret projects I guess there are reasons for having internal nonpublic stuff.
Now compare that to our favorite Fort Knox of Game Development: Valve. Good luck getting a product announced with detailed info more than a week before it releases. Most of the info we have on Artifact are leaks or the work of Internet Detectives™.
Now both companies as I see them only have the customer and their experience of the end product in mind. Whatever they do, the result is aimed to improve the enjoyment of the game.
I’d have to do an indepth analysis of the public material to see how much experimental stuff goes on at PixelTail but it seems pretty planned to me. They have a vision, they work on making it real, they show their progress and communicate when the completion rate or direction changes for whatever reason (Valve needing them to rework inventory, hardware defects, personal or health issues, spontaneous catsack possession needing an exorcist to regain control of the body, just to unnecessarily list a few examples) and in exactly the way Steam Early Access was meant to happen, it’s a constant feedback loop with the community. The downside is some people getting a little worked up because that progress might not happen to the best of their personal interests.
Compare that to Valve, where basically everything is experimental until it’s shipped. And in some cases, even the shipped stuff later turns out to be replaced by something a little less experimental because they learned from shipping the old thing. Since Half-Life turned out to be a success, Valve has the financial stability to not need to rely on sequelitis or scummy money making tactics, AFAIK their microtransactions are on the ethically more acceptable side. (Disclaimer: I can’t remember ever having bought a crate/Mann Co. key or similar products. I’m not well informed or up to date on this kind of business.) So basically they can do what they want (Literally) and I wonder if there’s a single person at Valve knowing what everyone else is doing all the time, a Daily Dev Log like PixelTail might be impossible. (And they might argue that they prefer to work instead of writing about what they work on.)
I like to think about this contrast in the context of a (now rather old) quote from Gabe Newell about a hypothetically transparent Valve:
" We think that the twists and turns that we’re going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it until we can be very crisp about what’s happening next. "