Danc on Development

by Darius Kazemi on October 16, 2006

in Uncategorized

Danc has written a great post on why waterfall production methodology doesn’t work. He knocks out a bunch of myths, although I feel like some of them should be qualified.

For instance, he argues that lengthy waterfall-style pre-production is a vice, and that you should just get cracking on your prototypes. I agree with this sentiment, but I also consider prototyping part of good pre-production! Some people would argue that if you’re building something, you’re in production, but I disagree: if everyone agrees that what you’re building is a throwaway prototype just to test out an idea, then it’s not actual production, because none of that code will end up in the final game.

He also says that there shouldn’t be a lone designer who owns the project. I agree, but I also caution that there should be an actual design lead who may not have the sole vision for the game, but is smart enough and understands enough to be the final decision-maker when there’s a design problem. (Ideally your focus statement is clear enough that the design lead can just point to it, but there will always be gray areas that require a hard decision.)


Ian Schreiber October 16, 2006 at 6:58 pm

I think those qualifications are just clarifying semantics. Important to be clear, but I don’t think it detracts from the strength of Danc’s article.

He uses the term “preproduction” in the context of the preproduction-production-postproduction “waterfall” model of development. Once you go agile, “preproduction” changes its meaning a bit, in terms of the tasks involved.

Likewise, he never claims that there shouldn’t be a Lead Designer, just that the lead should be spending most of their time removing obstacles from the rest of the team. Making a decision when the rest of the team is deadlocked counts as obstacle removal. So does creating a clear vision statement that can be referred to by the team (although crafting that statement should involve input from everyone).

Anonymous October 17, 2006 at 7:19 pm

I agree with Ian’s clarifications, I’d also like to note that agile game production doesn’t nessecarily carry all the baggage of Scrum methodology, different conditions apply.

The dicussion on a business that implements these ideas goes on over at my place.

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