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December 11, 2007



Sorry I didn't reply to the last post. I was too busy planning what to say :-p

Sid might actually be a good example. I can't say how he works now but back when I worked at Microprose (20 years ago) Sid would pretty much make prototypes by himself. Back then he used BASIC with little bits of assembly language and his own forth like language called Sid Tran. The point of using BASIC was extremely rapid prototyping. He would sit in his office and tinker with all kinds of ideas. Think of it as having like 5 indie games going all at once. He might spend 3 weeks on one then 4 weeks on another. If one of the ideas turned out to be truely fun, only then did it becoming something a full team might work on. Up to that point it was just Sid and possibly one artist part time.

As far as I remember there was ZERO planning up to that point.

I wish I was motivated enough to do those small kinds of games. I'm generally always bogged down in trying to get some giant system in place so a medium to large team and make massive amounts of assets with lots of freedom. That in itself takes lots of time and so I'm never free to do these prototypes :-(

I pray that at some point we'll all have good enough engines and toolsets that we can stop this insanity and just work on the game.



Paul Rand said, in Design and the Play Instinct, that the play instinct is “an
instinct for order, the need for rules that, if broken, spoil the game, create uncertainty and irresolution.” without play you can't experiment, but you need rules first.

having been through art schools, i've seen art without constraints. none of it was useful. planning actually sparks creativity, in my experience. it deliniates the sandbox.

even Sid had plans while he was tinkering.

planning influences creativity, just as creativity influences the budget.



I think the point of view of the programmer is best described in the book "The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World".

You should do it step by step.

As a software engineer I agree but that's not the way it works in most company.

For the record, here is the list of actions from the book:

1. Management states high-level requirements.
2. Programmers formalize the requirements in detail.
3. Management approves detailed requirements.
4. Programmers identify testing resources.
5. Management approves testing resources.
6. Programmers estimate duration of design phase.
7. Testers estimate duration of test plan creation.
8. Management approves design and test plan efforts.
9. Programmers perform design phase.
10. Testers begin development of test plan.
11. Programmers estimate duration of estimation phase.
12. Management approves estimation phase.
13. Programmers perform task partitioning.
14. Programmers perform detailed estimate in hours.
15. Management may allocate additional programming resources.
16. Programmers define timeline with incremental milestones.
17. Management approves the timeline.
18. Programmers begin implementation.
19. Testing begins when software deliverables are available.
20. Programmers complete implementation.
21. Testers perform full regression testing.
22. Programmers define integration procedures.
23. Programmers implement installation program.
24. Testers perform full regression testing including installation and integration.
25. Testers approve beta release.
26. Beta testing begins.
27. Testers perform free play testing in parallel with beta.
28. Beta testing complete.
29. Testers perform full regression testing including installation and integration.
30. Testers approve product release.
31. Management or marketing begin distribution.
32. Programmers collapse in corner and sleep for three days.

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