6/26/2004

6-26-04 - 1

6-26-04

The difference between a great programmer and a really valuable coding leader is that the leader does far more than their job description. They don't just do what they're told - they actively look for problems and solutions, they foresee pitfalls and prepare for them before they arrive. They handle bad managers and do their own scheduling; they foresee demos and prepare for the unexpected; they handle art & design problems. A good coder who's a bad leader will just do their task assignments, perhaps very well, but not follow-up. This is part of why I advocate "feature teams". It encourages codes to take a holistic approach - if the result isn't good, make it better. Good code that's not used well is just a crappy result.


It's odd how we have so many smart people in the industry thinking carefully about game design, and yet so many of the games that even these smart people make are full of design decisions that are just frustrating and not fun. I think there's a big problem between the theory of games and the practice of making good games; it seems very hard for people to sit back and objectively make good decisions on their own game creations. A lot of people will blame it on the schedule and such, but taking your schedule into account is part of the process. A lot of artists in all media will blame their failures on schedule constraints or budget constraints - that's a total bullshit excuse, it just means they didn't take their situation into account properly.

I see a lot of the Junior High Theory of Game Design - add more skulls, make bigger explosions, make my hero a hot chick with huge boobs, yeah that'll be cool, make my shotgun shoot nukes, etc. I also see the I Know What's Best For You theory of game design - the holier than thou game designer who knows that "real fun" is, and doesn't let the player do what they want so that the experience will be pure or "true to his vision", and winds up just making something painful and frustrating.

People cling to features in game dev just because they've gotten used to them. You must remember the real audience has never seen any of this before. Just because some way you've been playing is "broken" doesn't mean anything's wrong - that's not how the new audience will play.

People do things the wrong way, you keep telling them to fix it, and then it becomes too late to make the changes, and you're stuck with shit. Smart people try to do things right before it's too late.

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