Game Development Reference
Planning and Iteration
As Hans Grote, a building contractor, observes, a soccer coach will not
tell one of his forwards that he can be certain of scoring if, in the sixth
minute of play, he approaches the opponent's goal from the right at an
angle of 22 degrees and, 17 meters in front of the goal, kicks the ball at
an angle of ascent of 10 degrees, 11 minutes. . . .If the coach is going to
determine the positions from which each of his players should shoot,
he should keep in mind that damp earth can stick to soccer shoes. And
a clump of dirt between shoe and ball can play havoc with the angle of
the planned shot. It would therefore be wise to study the average size of
clumps of dirt and their frequency of occurrence, as well as the places on
a soccer shoe where they are most likely to cling. But then if we consider
that soccer fields in the north tend to be sandy while those in the south
have a more claylike consistency, we have to. . . .No one would ever go to
such ridiculous lengths, you say? Oh, yes, they would!
HERE'S A STORY THAT'S happened many times.
A designer has an idea for a game. He wants to do it right, so he de-
cides to not be lazy. He's going to work in the most disciplined, diligent
way he knows—by writing a Design Document . The Document describes
everything: mechanics, fiction, dialogue scripts, art style, technology,
target markets. The designer rewrites it over and over, analyzing every
piece, rethinking, imagining the game play out.
Months pass. Finally he finishes it. The Document is 200 pages of
mechanics specs, sample playthroughs, character backstory, and interface
descriptions. He might print it out now, just for the satisfaction of lifting it
and feeling its weight. I know because I did this exact thing when I wrote
my Document for Elemental Conflict. .
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