Game Development Reference
A long planning horizon would be planning and executing the next
month of work before running the next test. A short planning horizon
would be just throwing things into the game and testing them minute by
minute to see what happens.
The basic principle in choosing a planning horizon is to consider how
uncertain your plans are. When plans are very likely to work as expected,
your planning horizon should be long. This is how architects design build-
ings down to individual nuts and bolts—they know how a building will fit
together with great certainty. When the plans are uncertain, your planning
horizon should be short. This is like a soccer match, where everything
changes from moment to moment due to factors that are impossible to
predict. Any given game development process sits at some point between
these two extremes.
Let's look at some more specific situational factors that should affect
Unoriginal, derivative games can be planned relatively far into the future
because they depend on established knowledge.
The less original a game, the deeper we can plan. The Sims changed
entirely during development, but The Sims 2 did not because the core of the
design was already well established by the first game. Similarly, someone
making a first-person shooter today can use everything that has already
been learned about this genre from other games to help predict how his
own game will work.
The extreme example of this is making a clone or a port of an existing
game. With the entire design already established and tested against real
players, it might even be possible to plan every detail ahead of time like an
architect blueprinting a building.
This is why making a sequel is so different from making an original.
Some game franchises go into five sequels or more with little change in
basic mechanics. This makes for smooth development processes, since the
design of the fifth sequel can depend on the massive amount of knowledge
established in previous games.
Original games can only be planned to a short horizon because they
depend on things that haven't been discovered yet.
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