Game Development Reference
But even with the best craft in the world, no designer can magically
know the answer to every question (though there are those who try). That's
why the second half of this topic is about the day-to-day process of design.
Real game designers don't just know the answers — they know how to find
them using testing, planning, and analysis. Process knowledge shows
when to test and how, when to plan and when not to, how to work with
others and avoid creative dead ends.
Design craft does not define the purpose of a game. It only shows us how
to achieve it.
Some people worry that analyzing game design removes its soul —
that understanding the principles of the craft takes away the creativity of
the work. But knowing game design craft doesn't mean slavishly following
rules to get the same result over and over. It means understanding the
trade-offs in every design decision. When games go wrong it's rarely be-
cause the designer made the wrong choices within their own understand-
ing. It's because they just didn't know the trade-offs they were making. So
a designer understanding craft is kind of like an engineer understanding
the laws of physics: Newton's laws don't determine whether we build a
boat motor or a Saturn V rocket, but they are essential to perfecting either.
Imagine the best game you have ever played — except crafted even
better, every emotion more potent, the pacing even more perfect, the fic-
tion more cohesive and nuanced. There is no game that could not have
been made better with the same resources. We will never make a perfect
game, but through study of craft, we can push every game as close to its
full potential as humanly possible.
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