thread: 2013-09-11 : The Problem, of course

On 2013-09-13, Josh W wrote:

I wasn't talking about you being zen as much as Vincent and zen's not even the right word!

(Also, I'm not trying to correct you or anything, just jumping off what you've said.)

It's more that this concept of design assumes profound overlapping coherence to the point to which designing the axe handle means you'll have to go back some point to tweak the head, in order to make sure that both head and handle are being as good as they can be, and also supporting each other.

Resolving this idea in general is like trying to solve the halting problem in distributed computing; how do you make sure that the process of design actually comes to a stop?

Practically, one way we solve this is by iteration, going backwards and forwards making tweaks, trying to make less and less dramatic changes, another is by finding things to fit into place, another way is by juggling things in your head until it somehow coalesces into something, which feels a bit like magic.

Expanding on that a bit, I find even when you're working "side to side", from one little bit of a game out to others, there'll still come points where you are designing from the outside in, where you now know you need a specific thing, maybe the last puzzle piece of your game, and now you have to start creating something specifically to fit.

Up until that point you can go a long way by saying "what does this imply", and creating something that fits it according to those aspects, but there comes a point where you find that you have a lot of leftover or overlapping constraints, a lot of loose ends, and you're now wanting to do a lot with this last piece.

At that point you can go back and make your job easier by getting some of the other mechanics to take part of that role, or you can look around for mechanics in other places that fit, or you can sort of dream about it, try little fragments and put it together.

I suppose another way to say this is, you can go a long way without "intuiting the whole", but it's actually enormously satisfying to do so. Is it possible to do so waterfall style before you've even settled anything? Probably, although it's equally possible to do so by starting with a few idea fragments and asking "what is this game about?" "what kind of feel does this give me?" "who can I imagine playing this?" "what things do I imagine happening?" etc. or other more schematic and less verbal questions, and sometimes not going for explicit answers to those questions immediately, just enough to get you forming some kind of picture in your head of what it will look like, where you're going.


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