Game Development Reference
PROCESS BURDEN is the cost of tracking and scheduling work.
Every design process has some organizational layer to keep everyone
coordinated. One developer might keep notes for himself. A three-person
team might have daily chats to coordinate their work. As team sizes grow,
the cost and complexity of coordination increase. Large teams use dedi-
cated production staff, bug tracking systems, and design wikis. The effort
spent on all of this is process burden.
A naturally low process burden is one of the greatest advantages
of small teams over large ones. Back when I worked alone on Unreal
Tour nam ent levels for fun, four hours of work time meant ten minutes
handling my notes and three hours fifty minutes in the level editor. I knew
everything about the design and didn't depend on anyone else. While
working on large studio projects, four hours of work time often means an
hour of writing specs, another hour of discussion, and two hours in the
editor. In the first case, process burden is 4% of my time. In the second,
POLITICAL EFFECTS affect relationships among developers.
In some sense, a group design process is always an exercise in favor
trading. Everybody has some amount of influence, which he can spend and
trade in the pursuit of improving the game. This affects design decisions.
For example, a studio may have a very senior veteran programmer
who founded the company 15 years earlier, and doesn't care about the fic-
tion but loves working on new graphics technology. In this studio, a design
that does not push graphical limits may have great benefits, but it imposes
a political cost of irritating the veteran programmer because he may push
back against it.
Handling political effects often means thinking several chess moves
ahead. A designer might have a feature he wants to try, but realize that he
will never be able to cut it if it doesn't work because others will become too
invested. If the chance of a cut is too great, the designer won't push this
idea. It's an ugly outcome driven by organizational deficiencies, but from
the designer's point of view it's what's best for the process and the game.
CULTURAL EFFECTS change developers' habits and the development
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