Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
The closest game design equivalent of a screenplay is not a design
document. It is a working graybox prototype.
A screenplay includes every event that occurs during the film. Every
word of dialogue, every image, every plot twist is present. When we read
it, our minds must fill in the missing audiovisual details, but this is easily
done by our active visual imaginations. So just by reading the screenplay
and imagining pictures in the mind, we can get a useful approximation of
the filmgoers' experience.
One cannot do the same with a game design document because a
design document does not specify the game events—it specifies the game
mechanics. To read a design document and understand the final experi-
ence would mean not just imagining visuals, but mentally simulating all
the game mechanics and players' choices to produce the events that drive
that experience. This kind of mental simulation is beyond the capacity of
any human being.
But in a graybox, the game handles the mechanical simulation. The
player's mind need only fill in missing audiovisuals, just like when read-
ing a screenplay. So the closest match to a screenplay is actually a working
graybox prototype. A working graybox gives about as much information
about the final product as a screenplay. A design document gives much
less.
The Paradox of Quality
The classic workshop adage is “Measure twice, cut once.” And when you're
building a deck or a dam, this makes sense. Since mistakes are very ex-
pensive to reverse in this kind of work, avoiding them is a top priority. But
in game design, an extreme hatred of mistakes actually leads to a poorer-
quality product.
In game design, temporarily accepting poor-quality work ultimately
leads to better-quality work. This is the PARADOX OF QUALITY.
Traditional advice says that if you work slowly, lovingly, attending to
every detail, you end up with a quality product. If you rapidly slap pieces
together, you'll end up with junk. In this view, finishing a quality product
means doing quality work at every stage of the process.
 
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