Game Development Reference
new potential animations pose a critical failure risk if they cause other
problems elsewhere so close to content lock.
Replacing the Elixir with gold carries a risk of throwing off the game
economy—another potential design effect .
Your relationships with animators, McRae, programmers, and other
designers also weight each choice with different political effects .
Removing the Elixir seems a lot more attractive since you're a friend
of the designer who made a quest around it. Changing the story seems
a lot less attractive since McRae is not your friend.
Finally, McRae's past behavior has created a climate of uncertainty
around his responses to narrative changes. This added uncertainty is
making your decision harder in a way that is invisible to McRae.
All of this is wrapped in layers of uncertainty. You're not sure how
fans and journalists would respond to changes to the Elixir, how McRae
feels about the Elixir, the exact animation changes needed to make the
Walrog work right, and other design effects of each of these choices.
This situation may seem absurdly complicated. But this level of deci-
sion complexity isn't uncommon while making complicated products for
a multisegmented market, together with a team of people, each with his
own skills, relationships, and desires. Real designers in large studios do
this every day; solving such Kaf kaesque problems is a major part of the
job. And there's no obvious right answer.
My answer here would be that there is too much uncertainty. The
best move is to gather knowledge with a few low-risk questions. Meet with
McRae and noncommittally float the idea of killing the Elixir to get a feel
for the response. It's usually possible to get someone's opinion on some-
thing without actually committing to it. Talk to the animator who likes
you the most about the possible need for Walrog changes and get a read
on how realistic this is. It may be easier than assumed, or it may be out of
the question. Either way, you gain knowledge. Finally, think hard about the
problem and get rumination juices going, and email a few other designers
asking for ideas. These three knowledge-gaining moves can be accom-
plished within a day or so, after which the situation may be approached
again from a position of greater certainty. You've lost a day, but your deci-
sion is likely to be much better, so I think the trade-off was worth it.
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