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May 13, 2006


Adam Lindberg

About the flame war thing: I think it's sad that you don't consider teaching that someone how to bail water correctly or try to put them on working with the sails instead, before you throw them overboard. Everybody deserves a chance, just to bad that the gaming industry seems too focused on profit these day (maybe as with all industries, I guess).

Regarding the book, I think it is totally possible. It all boils down to a mature industry and that somebody has got to do it. Will eventually happen. So a wiki (or the 400 rules list) is an extremely good start, what such projects need to be accessible for everyone is a nice packaging and some context, a book to be more specific. Of course you can access a wiki easy yourself too, but books make a bigger impression, at least for me.


Your playtesting comment stuck out for me. According to a friend that works for Nintendo of Japan, they have something they call the Mario Club. It is essentially a bunch of Kleenex testers. They test your product DAILY and send back comments on fun, frustration, suggestions etc. They do this constantly, all through the project not just toward the end and not just once or twice but DAILY. New people are rotated through the club. This is probably one reason why Nintendo seems to have some of the funnest games. I wish more publishers / developers did this. Most companies I've worked at did zero playstesting. A few did it 2 or 3 times in a 2 year project but that was it and generally the 3rd time it was too late to actually make any truely useful changes.

Another thing that stuck out was your side comment about stealth mechanics and stompers. I'm not sure what the point of the comparison is. If your going to abstract them that far then you can keep going until almost all games are about pushing a button and seeing a reaction. Not a very useful abstraction. Even if it's only imagined, stealth games put the player into the role of being stealthy and this means their perception and enjoyment of a stealth segment of a game is vastly different to they way they feel avoiding a stomper on a scroller. That difference is extremely important and your comment suggests it isn't.

Darren Gordon

"...if someone can't help you bail water out of the lifeboat you've got to throw them over the edge.."

That sentence has a very 'if you're not with me you're against me' feel which, like Adam said, can be a dangerous line of thinking.

Say someone isn't an accomplished water bailer and you throw them out of the boat. It would sting to come to find out that given a little time they were able to design a more effective water pump but they're now using it in someone else's ship. It's not always about forcing someone's talents to fit a certain role, but finding the role that best suits their talents.

If you haven't read Anthony Bourdain's A Cooks Tour I highly recommend it. If you have seen the show on Food Network then much of it is going to be the same but it's nice to get his take on his travels without the filter of television in the way.

Liam Hislop

As an amatuer cook, I will definitely check those books out (always trying to make my food better..hehe)

Second, I agree with throwing people oout of the boat as well. I know many people will see it as cut and dry, but I know that I have tried to give all of my employees (past and present) the chance to learn and correct mistakes. There have been a couple that obviously either are bored with the position, don't have what it takes, and don't want to learn what it takes. At that point, it's better to cut them loose. Not just for you and your team, but for them. It may sound shallow to say that it could be better for them, but sometimes, it takes something like that to wake someone up. What Darren said about them building a better pump... maybe it's somewhere else that they develop the stuff to build that better pump. It would've been something they never developed in your boat. Is that worth risking the whole thing sinking to find out?

Lastly, I love the idea of a "project management map". I think that it possible and it would be useful. My main question isn't usefulness, but useability. Would it be something that anyone could use, or only people who were trained to understand it, or what? The way you describe it, it would need to be as easy to read as a map, however I know people who can still get lost with the best maps...

Darren Gordon

You know Liam, your post got me thinking a bit more about this idea and I've come to the conclusion that as it's presented it has me a bit confused about what Anthony and by extension Jamie was trying to get across.

Initially the idea of getting rid of those who can't bail you out of a lifeboat comes off as being based off the person's ability to (in this case) bail water. Maybe the bucket I'm given has a hole in it, or it's very small and only allows me to bail a tiny amount of water. Whatever the reason is the simple fact that I'm not bailing fast enough is cause to push me out and hope a current carries me to shore. Maybe there's use for my tiny hole filled pail and I elsewhere on the ship?

However Anthony uses this idea when speaking in the context of employees who aren't showing up to work, coming in late or generally don't treat their position with the care and attention it deserves. To me firing one of these people doesn't really warrant some special language, much less a whole chapter in a book (although I'm sure there was more to it then just this) it's plain old common sense.

So I suppose after all this, I was mistaken in my original assessment of what he was trying to get across however after thinking about it some more I'm not sure what's wrong with the idea of firing problem employees. Isn't that what you're _supposed_ to do?

Phew that was a lot longer then I had anticipated.

Hugh "Nomad" Hancock

You, sir, are a very smart man. I'd never thought of the parallels between game development (and by extension Machinima development) and cooking, and I've read Bourdain too.

(His chapter on firing is, sadly, right on the money.)

Hmm. I'll have to think about this some more.

BTW, if you can aquire it over Bittorrent or similar, you may find Gordon Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares" a worthwhile watch - Ramsey, one of the UK's two three-star Michelin chefs, travels around the country sorting out failing restaurants, and usually telling the viewers a lot about the practical business of running a restaurant in the process.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game