Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
(and they always are early in development), these small wins create daily
Applying the progress principle means organizing the process so that
everyone gets regular, visible small wins. All the basics of good process
help with this: iteration shows constant progress from its frequent play-
tests, and allowing people their natural authority facilitates progress since
people can enjoy their own wins instead of having them handed out by a
boss. But we can also go beyond these basics by arranging and tracking
work specifically to make progress frequent and visible. Even something
as simple as listing tasks on a wall and crossing them off in red makes a
visual indicator of progress. Every crossed-off task gives everyone a tiny
emotional boost. If the tasks are small enough that two or three can go red
every day, the team will feel a sense of continuous momentum.
This is similar to designing reward feedback for game players. We
might ensure the player levels up every hour in a very visible way, because
we know that such regular progress is compelling. The same psychology
applies to the game developers themselves. The tiniest of wins can keep us
going, if they're frequent and visible.
It helps to arrange work so that people can get direct feedback on their
own progress without outside help. A designer might make progress on a
system, but if that progress is only ever appreciated by a different person
in a review or a playtest, the designer never gets to see it firsthand and so
doesn't feel it. The designer should be able to see his own playtests, just as
a programmer should be able to watch his code pass automated tests, and
an artist should be able to decide on his own when a character finally fits
in the world. This way, they create their own progress.
The progress principle applies even more to small projects than to
large ones. On a large team, the momentum of the group can keep an
individual going from day to day. But in a team of one or two, we need
another source of motivational fuel. This is why detailed to-do lists are so
beneficial for tiny teams. It's not just about keeping tasks organized. Every
completed task creates a little mood boost.
In this way, small-team development is not unlike topic writing. Over
years of work alone with my word processor, I've learned to live and die by
page counts. I don't sit down for another four hours of rewriting because
I want to release a topic years in the future. That's too far away to be emo-
tionally relevant to my primate brain. But when I see the page count go up
at the end of the night, I feel a moment of joy.
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