Game Development Reference
else is. Every developer understands things about the level, technology, or
mechanic he works on that nobody else does.
Game developers can do the same thing as ants by distributing deci-
sions around the team. Each developer makes the choices about the work
he is closest to. The programmer of a system should make internal deci-
sions about the design of that system. The designer of a level should decide
the detailed layout of the level. Each person has a sphere of natural author-
ity that envelops the parts of the project that he understands best.
A developer's NATURAL AUTHORITY extends over any decision that he is
better equipped to make than anyone else on the team.
This doesn't mean everyone just does his own thing. Game devel-
opment is always very communication-intensive because decisions often
require knowledge from many different people. For example, there's no
way an artist can decide the look of a character without knowing the nar-
rative purpose of that character. There's no way a writer can write good
dialogue for a combat sequence if he has no idea how it's changed since the
last playtest. To collect that knowledge together, we have to communicate.
Meetings, for example, are a way of collecting knowledge together for
the purposes of making decisions. Consider the case of a meeting com-
prising a creative director, a programmer, a designer, and an artist as they
decide which of two potential graybox designs to move forward with. They
meet because each has unique knowledge relevant to the decision.
The designer has run five playtests on each graybox, so he knows
where the level has balance and clarity problems. He's also been working
on the level awhile, so he has a reservoir of ideas and failed experiments
to draw from.
The programmer knows what size and complexity of level can work in
the game engine, and various other technical limits of the system.
The artist knows best how the level fits between the previous and fol-
lowing levels in terms of artistic progression of the game and what art
assets are available.
The creative director knows the overall structure of the game and
where the level its in, its emotional goals, its market positioning strategy,
and its deeper themes, and the needs of its investors.
None of these people can make the decision alone. They meet to share
their knowledge and apply it to decisions together. And this meeting is
well-organized because all the people with the necessary knowledge are
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