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Feature: 'Building a Mindset for Rapid Iteration Part 1'

Feature: 'Building a Mindset for Rapid Iteration Part 1'

May 1, 2008 | By Eric Caoili

In this analytical article, EA veteran and Emergent VP Gregory looks at the problems of iterating game concepts and assets with a large development team, suggesting possible roadblocks and solutions.

Unlike developing other software in which you can plot the project’s success by completing a series of goals and features, building a “fun game” can’t be planned with the same approach:

“There are usually lots of go-backs and retries as you bring together elements of the game -- the code, content, scripts, etc. -- and see if it's entertaining. In the worst cases, teams don't realize that it's not a fun game until it's so late, they can't fix it.

In the best cases, teams prototype their game in "sketch" form during pre-production, and find the fun before they spend the bulk of their time in production filling in content and polishing the gameplay.

So, how do you align your team with the best case scenario? It's a generally accepted practice in the industry that quickly iterating and trying different things is the best way to make incremental progress towards the final goal of a fun game. It's less risky, and you find the core of your game (look, mechanic, etc.) much more quickly.”

So why is it difficult for teams to rapidly iterate? Gregory provides a list of obstacles in the way, as well as suggestions for what can be done to improve the process, including optimizing local/individual iteration:

“What items above are most responsible for impeding a single developer's progress these days? It's generally the tools involved in daily workflow: compilers, debuggers, digital content creation tools, source code and content control systems, custom tools and the game runtime itself.

Each component in the tool chain adds time to your iteration rate. When you make a change, how long does it take you to see the effect of that change in the most appropriate environment (game, viewer, whatever)? The closer it is to instantaneous, the better you are doing.”

You can now read the full feature on building a mindset for iterating game concepts and assets quickly, including the obstacles and solutions of rapid iteration (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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