The Beauty of Iteration


It’s becoming more and more apparent, that iteration is the fuel to excellence. If somebody was to ask me “Would you rather have a solid, extensive tool set, OR, a super awesome, mega game design?” Well of course, my first response would be “BOTH”, but that’s not the reality of game development. And this is coming from a designer…..A DESIGNER!

Games are becoming more like huge slogs of crunch time due to lots of trial and error, and my vision is simple. A new game idea is like a LOG OF WOOD (sounds weird uh?), anyway, this log of wood needs to become a spear, and only by iteration and refinement will it ever be that. Trying to make a log of wood something so “refined” with bad or crude tools is making our jobs so much harder. I’d rather be able to “play test” an idea, than painstakingly write long reams of documents that in practice, may, and usually will, need tweaking.

A game design without tools to test the ideas is like having nothing but THEORY and no PRACTICAL to a tough school lesson. You learn best by experience, not hearsay and speculation. I think this is why so many games go “the safe route;” game mechanics and ideas well travelled and tested, they work, they’re safe. I can’t point the finger, because I’ve have had to do this on many occasions, it’s not out of choice, it’s out of necessity. It’s not uncommon for publishers to say “It ships no matter how bad it is, it has to ships on this date“. Nobody likes to have a game canned, they’re investments of the time and efforts of so many people.

When a good, solid, simple (yet powerful) toolset, allows “anyone” to iterate, it is a thing of sheer beauty. Not only will you have more than enough sources to produce ideas, but those ideas can be tweaked and refined without bottlenecks. If iteration is not easy, or time consuming, all your really doing is halting creative risks.

The Beauty of Iteration is that you can TEST ideas, rather than write about them. People will take more risks when it’s easy to chop/change, and so the birth and potential of more off-the-wall gameplay mechanics become a reality. People want huge thick design documents (that most publishers never read), but give them a playable demo and watch their eyes light up.

Words in a design document or on a wiki site won’t sell 2 million units, they’re nothing without execution. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have direction, but you still need the means to travel there.

Haydn

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About Haydn Dalton

Creative Lead 30 Years Developing Games

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