When is a game “finished?”

Lots of talk in the last couple days about what constitutes a “finished” game. (My threads on teaching your game flowed out of that conversation actually.)
Matt Wilson, who wrote Primetime Adventures and Galactic, gives up the best rule of thumb on this I’ve seen so far:
“You need players to consistently be able to sit down and play your game out of the box, without help, without you available as an unpublished supplement.”
There you go. It’s nice that so many of these indie games have the author easily available to answer questions, but the best ones — Dogs and PTA spring to mind, as they have for a few days now, but Conspiracy of Shadows and TSoY are there too (they may not be in-game-referencing-friendly, but the rules make sense without lots of online help — are the ones where that’s not necessary; where you are reading Actual Play threads not to understand what the hell to do, but just to get cool ideas.


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