XPBLOG: The unyielding dream idea and the reality of game design – 4/15/21
The unyielding dream idea and the reality of game design
By Theodore Scontras
Working on a team is an eternal debate I’ve toiled over many times, worrying that by bringing other people onto a game, would have me sacrifice my creative visions. In practice though, the opposite is true. Not only did I greatly over-estimate the worth of my solo ideas, but greatly undervalue the importance of having different people workshop the same concept. I think my greatest fear was that in communicating an idea to someone else was the possibility that it might be misconstrued, and ending up with something in the end that did reflect my original vision.
That being said, that’s not really what happens in game design, while a central focus or vision is possible, it is just not realistic to have a thorough idea of what every nook and cranny of a game will look like before a line of code has been written. And that’s where the importance of a team comes in. Around every corner of designing our game when new problems came up, we explored each unique idea that anyone had. Back in my days of solo-devving I think I would have just tried out “what made the most sense to me,” which in retrospect pales in comparison to the variety of solutions that other devs on a team could come up with. While it’s important not to compare yourself to others, the lens in which others view life through makes for a great way to pass ideas through and see them in a completely new way.
There is a saying in game development that goes something like “anything will take twice or three times as long to finish as you think” it is not elegant but it is very true. My first game I expected to be done in a month, and took three, and then my second game in 2020 I expected to take about 3 months and would take the entire year, and even with that time there were so many underdeveloped concepts, with my team at MassDigi XP, in a little under 100 days we have made a game that I could not have made with 5 years of time alone.
I think the allure of game development, and most creative endeavors is that you, as a creator, will make something in your own vision. And while that can be true, and we could be here all day talking about the financial difficulties of that, it may be important to start teaching incoming devs about the benefit and reward of helping a cause that is greater than the self.