Game Development Reference
Serendipitous design discoveries don't only appear by luck. To capture
them, we need to be observant and adaptable.
Serendipity doesn't just happen. We have to be ready for it. The key to
capturing serendipity is being observant and being willing to explore new
discoveries. These opportunities don't announce themselves with great
fanfare and obvious explanations. They appear as strange behaviors or
nonsensical results in well-understood systems. To exploit them, we must
notice those hints of possibility and dig into them.
A closed-minded person can't do this because his mental model isn't
flexible enough to assimilate new ideas. He'll see the hint, but ignore it
or cover it up to reinforce his own worldview. To exploit serendipity, a de-
signer must be able to reorganize his thoughts around his observations,
instead of reorganizing his observations around his worldview.
Game design isn't just a process of authorship. It's also a process of
observation and discovery.
As creative people, we want to project our vision into the world. But
capturing serendipity requires us to loosen our authorial control. Great
game designers don't have a perfect vision of a game and then simply
translate it into reality. They dig around in the spaces of possibility, watch-
ing for hints of value, and seize them when they appear.
Believing in Iteration
It's hard to get past the planning habit. I try to imagine what I would
have thought had I read this chapter years ago. I might have nodded in
agreement, and thought I understood. But I doubt I would have, really.
Intellectual understanding isn't the same as emotional belief.
Most designers I've met who understand iteration only came to believe
in it after experiencing years of disasters wrought by deep planning. They
had done the crunch time, broken the deadlines, and watched the plans
fall apart over and over. I did the same thing. Perhaps the only way to
emotionally believe in the problems with planning is to go through the
pain of experiencing them firsthand.
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