Game Development Reference
present, and no more. Taking any of them away would starve the decision
of knowledge. Adding someone else would be pointless.
Bad decisions happen when knowledge isn't applied. For example, a
level designer might decide to graybox a level that is too big for the com-
puter to run. A programmer could have told him that before he started.
But since they never talked, his decision of how to size the level suffered,
and work will have to be redone. The human instinct here is to blame
the level designer—but that's usually wrong. Blame the organizational
structure for not getting him the necessary knowledge.
Even with great communication, though, much of the relevant knowl-
edge is still tacit or too voluminous to be communicated. This is why it's
still usually best if the person with the natural authority makes the final
decision—the level designer on his level, the writer on dialogue, the direc-
tor on overall structure.
aRRogation anD tRust
ARROGATION is claiming a decision that falls under someone else's
The word arrogant comes from the French s'arroger , which means, “to take
privileges which are not yours.” People arrogate decisions when they take
them away from the person with natural authority over them.
Arrogation often takes the form of micromanagement . Micro-
management is when leaders issue commands pertaining to low-level,
specific knowledge which the subordinate understands better than they
do. It usually makes for bad decisions because it discards the subordinate's
special knowledge of the work.
For example, a leader might sit through an hour-long review of an
evolving game system and demand a list of changes which seem, to the
people in the trenches, extremely foolish. This act is lovingly known as a
“swoop and poop,” and it can be very destructive. But leaders don't do this
because they are stupid. They do it because they don't have the hundred
hours of iterating and testing on the level that the people in the trenches
do. They don't know all the ins and outs of every test, every experiment,
every discussion that's been had. The leader may have a great deal of expe-
rience, but general experience is rarely enough to overcome the knowledge
advantage of people who have spent much more time on the work at hand.
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