Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quick Post, Before They Delete It...

I posted a response to a story hailing the Utopian future of "scientific" game design. This kind of stuff makes my guts churn.

Posting my comment here before it gets deleted:

"Video game design is evolving from a barely understood activity done by genius designers driven by their gut feelings, to a craft with shared techniques and methodologies."

Yes... This is the very reason why we are in the midst of a creative crisis in games - why games are rehashed, commoditized and "deadly" (qv. "deadly theater"). Because of this drive to exclude the individual and at times irrational creative genius element in favor of something systematized, "scientific" and rational - but also ultimately lifeless.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hammering the Effectiveness Message, Again

Effectiveness is more important than efficiency in the entertainment industry.

Take Apocalypse Now. Its making was a chaotic mess. But what they made was a good film.

True the aesthetic delivery needs to have efficiency. Apocalypse Now had tight cutting and dialog when it needed it. In a game, you need a certain framerate and so forth. But that's a different thing. That too ultimately falls under the category of effectivness - a quality of the final product. How we get to that effective destination need not be efficient - and should not be, if we sacrifice effectiveness to get there more efficiently. The whole raison d'etre of prototyping is to embrace the mess. To experiment. To try things out. To go by circuitous routes. In order to reach a destination: to build a better product.

I reinforced this at a recent comment on a story on Gamasutra about the Agile Methodology (which I've worked within)... Remember that what you're making is more important than the process by which you make it. If you arrive at a place where, for whatever reason, some people are doing nothing or waiting for others, you may very well need to be there.

Again, game development needs to be treated as an entertainment industry devoted to creating projects - not as a conventional operating business, focused on maximizing efficiency. Efficiency isn't the aim - effectiveness is. You can efficiently make a piece of garbage (it happens all the time).