Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
everyone should be doing for the next month or year is one way of meeting
this challenge. Once developed, the plan can be distributed to everyone,
and each person does his part of the project. Underplanning makes this
impossible. On an underplanned project, people work without a clear idea
of how their tasks fit into the whole. Incompatibilities develop between
the work of different people. Some incompatibilities are technical, as in a
character model that doesn't follow standards or a subsystem that uses too
much memory. Others are creative, as in story details, design elements, or
artistic styles that don't work together. This lack of creative unity turns the
game into an unfocused Frankenstein's monster.
Finally, developers aren't the only people who need to know what a
game will become. Underplanning starves these external stakeholders
of information on which to base their work. For example, to get an ad on
television, the ad must first be produced and scheduled into a time slot, all
of which takes months. So, if we want to coordinate a December release
with an ad campaign, marketers need to start producing those ads the
previous summer or earlier. Similarly, investors want to know what they're
putting money into and will often demand detailed descriptions of the
future product. Hiring managers need to know who to hire long before
those people are necessary. Retail distribution channels need advance es-
timates of how many copies of a game will be sold, to whom, and where,
so they can plan the physical distribution of the discs. The world wants to
know what the game will be and when it will appear, and underplanning
makes that impossible.
tHe Costs of oveRPlanning
There's a common assumption that a little bit too much planning can't
be a bad thing. But this is false. Overplanning destroys projects in many
different ways.
It takes time to write plans. They must be invented, debated, recorded,
edited, and disseminated. As plans grow into hundreds of pages, this can
become a massive burden. Overplanning diverts effort from real develop-
ment to planning tasks.
It also costs something to cut plans when they inevitably fail. Cutting
an agreed-on idea takes discussion, debate, and political capital. And it's
psychologically painful for a creative person to invest himself in an idea
and then divest himself again. Overplanning creates many plans that
will need to be cut later, meaning these costs of cutting must be paid
over and over.
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