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A Primer for the Design Process, Part 3: Need
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A Primer for the Design Process, Part 3: Need


July 14, 2000 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

[Back To] A Primer for the Design Process: Part 1, What to Do

[Back To] A Primer for the Design Process: Part 2, What to Think About

This article deals with what you'll need (or need to be asking for) from your company and development team. You'll note a reoccurring theme here, and anyone who has made a game that someone else is waiting to play will recognize it. It should also be considered as a reminder to those very people waiting for you to deliver your title.

You need time, time to design, implement, experiment, and above all, have fun. Don't forget time to fix bugs since there are no patches for console games. Time, indeed is the single-most painful entity with which to joust. Many (and I mean many) games have suffered due to lack of time to finish the job properly.

Good design is not only about good ideas, it is also about the implementation of these ideas. If you don't get the time you need to do your job, the company is wasting money on a title that will fail in the marketplace.

This is a hard battle to fight. Corporate has their own considerations such as money, product on schedule to generate revenue to make other products, and other simple things like that. When schedules get bumped, there are reasons for it. Sometimes you'll have to pick your battles, others you'll need to cut-up your precious masterpiece to make milestones. That's the way of the biz.

Know that you need to plan on experimenting at the start, and bug-hunt at the end. Don't scrimp.

Communication

Communication is not only a two-way street, but it's everybody's responsibility to maintain open channels of communication with people involved with the project.

Nothing is more frustrating that to have a memo finally work it's way down from upper management saying "you need to make these changes," when you're supposed to turn over in 2 weeks.

Conversely, you can't walk up to you're bosses and say, "oh by the way, we need 2 more months," when they just spent a quarter million dollars for print ads expecting to have product next month.
Getting what you need when you need it is hard enough when everything for the game is being done under one roof. If you're dealing with contractors for things like motion processing or sound, you have to stay ahead of the game. You also need to know if this out-sourced talent is going to keep to your schedule. Their slip affects your schedule, which in turn will interfere with marketing, and so on. This is why upper management needs you to give them a proper, realistic schedule to begin with.

Management, at the same time, should not try to interfere with your scheduling by pushing your turn over date forward, or pulling resources from your game to help on some other title. Once you're plan is set and all parties involved have signed off on the timeline, you must stick as close as you can to that timeline, even if it means dropping features. And if you do happen to cut features, let people know so they can make the proper adjustments. This is another reason to keep your design document up to date.

Good direction and open lines of communication with other parts of the company also help in keeping you from getting bit by sudden, marketing driven changes. I say marketing as opposed to the market driven because it's usually someone down the pipe hollering about the need to add some thing for some reason rather than adapting to a new market standard or good design feature in the genre title you're developing.


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